[uf-discuss] Best practice for the abbr pattern

James Craig jcraig at apple.com
Fri Apr 27 14:29:40 PDT 2007

Dr. Ernie Prabhakar wrote:

>> title="2007-03-12T17:00:00"
> Can you confirm that:
> a) This will in fact solve the screen reader problem

It will not. Though I agree with Jeremy and Tantek that this solution  
is slightly better than the current recommendation. It is still far  
from accessible. Tantek and I discussed this format at SXSW as a  
possible solution, but its only moderately helps for dates, and  
doesn't help much for datetimes:

"2007-04-27" is mostly accessible as it's usually read as either "two  
thousand seven. four. twenty-seven." or "two thousand seven dash four  
dash twenty-seven." Sometimes the leading zero is spoken, too.

It's important to note however, that everything past the T is usually  
gibberish. Even given the *ideal* situation where the ':'s are not  
spoken as "colon", the time zone delimiter is spoken as "minus", and  
the colon separated pairs are spoken as "o'clock," the result is  
still less than ideal.

Best case scenario "tee twelve o'clock zero zero minus six o'clock."
Worst case scenario: "tee one two colon zero zero colon zero zero  
dash zero six colon zero zero"

This also doesn't account for screen readers set to read in other  
languages. Besides pronunciation phonemes, reader languages have all  
sorts of rules for writing conventions (i.e. sometime speaking "five  
o'clock" for "5:00" in English). I can't begin to guess what problems  
that that would entail. We'd need to talk to the internationalization  
team at the manufacturers.

I can try to meet with the i18n people on the Voiceover team, but as  
today, Voiceover doesn't read any title attributes and so doesn't  
have an issue with abbr-design-pattern. The problem is with the more  
popular readers, Jaws and Window Eyes.

> b) This still conforms with all the relevant W3C recommendations

It conforms to the ISO spec for dates, and the W3C specs for markup,  
but the article points to a WCAG reference that indicates abbr 
[title], acronym[title], td[abbr], and th[abbr] are meant for  
speaking. Ex. "20 lbs" should be spoken "twenty pounds." This is not  
implied for other elements like span[title], em[title], etc.

The article proposes keeping abbr-design-pattern for uses such as:

<abbr class="country-name" title="Japan">JP</abbr>

But abolishing its misuse in the following: dates, long/lat, and RFC  
type values.

<abbr class="dtstart" title="2007-03-27T12:00:00-06:00">Noon Central</ 
<abbr class="geo" title="30.300474;-97.747247">Austin</abbr>
<abbr class="type" title="home" xml:lang="es">Casa</abbr>


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