Re: Proposed W3C Spec Conventions

On Wed, Dec 2, 2009 at 4:57 PM, Doug Schepers <> wrote:
> I originally used <span>, but changed it to <em> based on the accessibility
> feedback [1] to Karl's original proposal by Gregory Rosmaita, a reader of
> W3C specs who uses a screen reader.  The fact that these passages are being
> called out as somehow special (marked with specific markup and class names)
> is indicative that they are being emphasized.  Could you explain why you
> think such emphasis isn't warranted or desired?  Maybe I'm just missing
> something.

I just don't see those sections as being emphasized; I wouldn't use a
special tone of voice to read them out over the phone, for example.
(I would do so for the words "Note:", "Warning:", etc., which is why
<strong> is appropriate there.)

>> If italics are desirable,
>> please switch to using an <i> element instead.  The use of <strong>
>> within those examples is acceptable, however.
> (I think it's funny that the CSS WG would recommend using an old-fashioned
> styling element like <i>... times change, I guess. ^_^)

<i> ain't a styling element anymore.  ^_^  It has (weak) semantics of
'this is something special, in an unspecified manner', which is
precisely what you're trying to express.  It also applies a useful
styling for non-CSS user agents.  (Sorry, was incorrect in my previous
email - you do indeed remove the italics and style it in another
fashion; <i> is still an appropriate element here.)

> If you could comment on that, that might help move this issue forward. I'm
> happy to use either <span> or <em>, based on what works best.  I'm less
> enthused about <i> for reasons I mentioned before, but will use that if
> that's the general consensus.

Sure.  I agree that <span> is sub-optimal for this use-case; you *do*
want to call it out as vaguely special, it's just not (in my opinion)
<em>phasized.  <i> carries the correct semantics of it being distinct
from the surrounding content.

Screenreaders may not be fully up-to-date in handling this sort of
thing, however.

> We also discussed including aural styles for these classes.

Be careful - afaik, many (most?) screenreaders ignore aural styles, as
inferring presentation from visual styles tends to be more reliable.
Just do some research before you sink any time into providing
aural-specific styles.

>> The CSS WG does not have any further comments on your proposal.
> Is the CSS WG likely to adopt these spec conventions [2] (assuming we can
> all come to agreement on the markup and styling)?  The SVG WG has resolved
> to adopt whatever common conventions are decided upon, as have the folks
> working on the DOM3 Events spec with me.

I can't speak for the CSSWG further than the comment I gave, but I
don't personally see any particular reason why not, and suspect that
we'd be fine with it.  We produce our specs through Bert Bos's
formatting script, and it shouldn't be a difficult thing to change
that to match up with the final guidelines here.


Received on Wednesday, 2 December 2009 23:14:33 UTC