[uf-discuss] Re: Putting microformats on the BBC iPlayer

Toby A Inkster mail at tobyinkster.co.uk
Wed Mar 5 03:57:40 PST 2008

Alasdair King wrote:

> This is clearly a contentious statement. However, the fact that this
> able, technical and motivated forum has been unable to come up with a
> agreed accessible format in eighteen months strongly suggests it isn't
> going to be able to do so with current assistive technology: better,
> "build it and they will come."

In my opinion this is a misrepresentation of the status quo. 

The reason that no consensus has been agreed for an accessible alternative 
to the ABBR pattern is not that no accessible alternatives exist; it is 
not that no alternatives have been suggested; and nor is it a lack of 
assistive technology support for the suggestions. It is simply that none 
of the proposed alternative patterns have been rubber-stamped by the 
powers that be.

For example, the following:

	<span title="Monday 3 March 2008 (data:2008-03-03)"
	class="dtstart">started two days ago</span>

Is perfectly accessible in all tested screen readers (the read the human-
readable "started two days ago") and seems to present no problems for any 
other assistive technology. It is trivial to implement -- simply find all 
elements (not just SPAN) with title attributes that match the regular 


and take the matching sub-expression (.*) to be the value of the property.

It doesn't interfere with the existing ABBR design pattern (which is, 
occasionally, used in an accessible manner, such as <abbr class="country-
name" title="Japan">JP</abbr> in hCard) so can be used in conjunction with 
it as appropriate; and is highly unlikely to match any false positives on 
existing web pages.

There have been other good suggestions too (though none I think as good as 
the one shown above) -- it is not suggestions that we lack, but the 
inertia to make one or more of them "official" and widely implemented. It 
does not bode well for the accessibility of Microformats that one of the 
main providers of said inertia has just been banned from the process for 
18 months.

For my part, I've implemented this "data:" prefix in Cognition <http://
buzzword.org.uk/cognition/> and plan on using it when I add hAtom support 
to demiblog <http://demiblog.org/>. (hCalendar was previously rolled back 
out of demiblog due to accessibility concerns. hCard, XFN and rel-tag are 
currently used though.)

Toby A Inkster BSc (Hons) ARCS
[Geek of HTML/SQL/Perl/PHP/Python/Apache/Linux]
[OS: Linux, up 35 days, 17:46.]

                               Bottled Water

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