[uf-discuss] Request for help from screen reader users from the BBC

Toby A Inkster mail at tobyinkster.co.uk
Thu May 22 12:25:20 PDT 2008

Ben Ward wrote:

> I don't think the ‘what's the default‘ argument is an absolute decider
> either way with this.

Indeed. Even if no screen readers even *offered* the option of  
reading the title attribute of abbreviations, the abbr design pattern  
would still be a bad idea. Or rather,having it as the only supported  
method of supplying machine-readable data (short of making the  
machine-readable data available as normal page content) is a bad idea.

In the case where the human readable data really is an abbreviation  
for the machine readable data, such as

   <abbr class="country-name" title="United Kingdom">UK</abbr>

then the abbr pattern is appropriate, and it's good that it works.  
But when the machine readable data is not a legitimate expansion of  
the human readable text, then use of the abbr design pattern falls  
into an obvious discord with:


An author who was not using microformats could not legitimately claim  
to be using proper semantic HTML if they included samples like this  
in their pages:

   <abbr title="cell">mobile phone</abbr>
   <abbr title="2008-01-01">end of December</abbr>

Adding classes ('type' and 'dtend') does not make things any better.  
The abbr design pattern is good and should work, but we really must  
have an alternative for those times when it doesn't make good  
semantic sense.

Toby A Inkster
<mailto:mail at tobyinkster.co.uk>

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