[uf-discuss] Expanding the abbr pattern
jeremy at adactio.com
Fri Apr 27 09:39:30 PDT 2007
Have you seen this post over on the WaSP blog?
It's a well-reasoned and calm look at the problems caused by the abbr
pattern in today's screenreaders (though some of the comments are a
little less calm). Rather than just bitching about this issue, James
and Craig have proposed some potential solutions.
The simplest solution is to simply expand the pattern to allow the
same usage of class and title on elements other than abbr (span is
specifically mentioned but this would potentially apply to any element).
The argument against:
The reason why the abbr pattern currently uses the abbr element is
because of the semantic power of this element. The HTML spec
explicitly states the text between the opening and closing tags of
the abbr element are an abbreviation of the title attribute of that
element. That is not true of any other element. Using the title
attribute of an element other than abbr to hold abbreviated content
could be justifiably considered an abuse of the title attribute:
"This attribute offers advisory information about the element for
which it is set."
The argument for:
Microformats are a practical, rather than a theoretical, technology.
They need to work in today's browsers. The abbr pattern isn't working
in today's screenreaders. I believe this to be a failure on the part
of the screenreader manufacturers but my beliefs are irrelevant
(remember: practical trumps theoretical). While restricting this
pattern to the abbr element is semantically correct, it is
impractical for today's technology.
I'd be interested in hearing other arguments for or against this idea.
Meanwhile, there's another step we can take now to help mitigate the
confusion that the abbr pattern can cause in screen readers but I'll
start another thread for that.
a d a c t i o
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