[uf-discuss] Accessibility and using the abbr element in hCalendar...

Tantek Ç elik tantek at cs.stanford.edu
Wed May 17 09:29:07 PDT 2006

Welcome to the list Peter!

On 5/17/06 6:31 AM, "Peter Krantz" <peter.krantz at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 5/17/06, brian suda <brian.suda at gmail.com> wrote:
>> This is correct, what is your question? previously on the mailing list
>> there was a discussion about screen readers reading out the TITLE
>> attribute, which is not true.

I believe what Brian meant to say is that there is an assumption (and has
already been a discussion) about screen readers reading out the TITLE
attribute AUTOMATICALLY, which is not true.[1]

> Most screen readers I know of allow the user to expand
> title attributes for abbr and acronym meaning that they replace the
> actual content of the element.

This is my understanding as well.

> I have experience from working with
> visually impaired users and most, if not all of them, use the expand
> titles option.

I would be very interested in seeing additional research/documentation on
this topic.  My personal experience in speaking with visually impaired users
is different than yours, and it would be great to see some data on this, as
so far all we have is anecdotal experience.

> I do not feel that the title attribute is used correctly if you stick
> machine readable datetime values into it.

It is certainly a new usage, and thus there has been some (not much)

There are several key points which make this ok and actually a good thing

 1. This usage is constrained to the <abbr> element, this is not for the
title attribute in general. (Some has asked/proposed using it also on <span>
and other elements for expansions/alternate content, and that has been
 2. The title attribute is still being used semantically correctly on the
<abbr> element - as an expansion of the human readable/listenable contents.
 3. Typical consumption of <abbr> marked up text by humans (whether sighted
or not) uses the contents of the <abbr> element.
 4. Using a full expansion of the datetime actually enables even *more*
human friendly reading since scripts etc. are now able to localize the
abbreviated datetime into whatever the user culturally prefers (since
abbreviated datetimes are represented quite differently across different

> If this is the designed way
> to convey the information I think the hCalendar microformat will need
> to be updated.

Peter, while I certainly understand how this novel usage of the title
attribute on the <abbr> element may cause some discomfort since it pushes
the limits a bit, I would be very interested to know of any
specific/concrete examples (real world, on the Web, with a URL) of any

One of the big differences culturally between microformats and other efforts
is that we very much focus our discussions on concrete examples, and pretty
much avoid wasting time on theoretical hand-wringing which otherwise
dominates most other standards discussions.  This too is a fairly different
methodology (though actually much more "classically" scientific), so it is
something to be aware of.

I noticed that your about page is valid XHTML - well done.


I encourage you to add hCard markup to the relevant contents of your about
page and please share your experience.  You may find the following document


Once again, welcome to the list, and thanks for your input.


[1] http://www.sf.id.au/WE05/indexa.html#slide5

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