[uf-discuss] A suggestion to address date accessibility issues

Jeremie Patonnier jeremie.patonnier at gmail.com
Tue Jan 6 09:52:49 PST 2009

Hi everyone,

This is the first time I come here. I'm a French Webdesigner and I
have a suggestion to address some issue on using dates with

This come after reading this :

The abbr pattern doesn't suit well with accessibility concern due to
the use of a machine only understandable date format in the title

If we think in the logic of "Human First, Machine Second", we should
first consider the way human write and read date and time. Then, in a
second step we should give the machines the ability to understand the
human logic.

If we think this way, we can imagine the next story:

1. Authors write their dates as they like (eg. 12/24/2008 or December
the 24th, 2008).
2. Then, they could specify the language they used through the lang
attribute (this is an original HTLM behavior).
3. And in the end, they must specify the format they used to give the
machines the ability to understand the human way of thinking.

The first 2 points are natively mastered by every common CMS and at
least manage by any HTML users.

So, the third point is the key.

There are basically 7 major parts in a human date:

* The day
* The month
* The year
* The hours
* The minutes
* The seconds
* The part of the day (AM or PM)

All of them could be either a number (possibly with a 0 at the
beginning of the first 9 figures) or a string (except for the part of
the day that only could be a string).
All the string in those cases depends on the local used by the authors.

Those 7 parts could be separated by anything (even if in reality,
there are more or less 20 characters used by authors)

So, Can we embed the date format in class name?

We can imagine something like that:

1. Use a generic prefix to prevent class name collision and make it
easily understandable by processor (eg. "df_" which mean "date

2. Build a scheme base upon the 7 parts seen before (by identifying
the parts using a simple letter such as the common D, M, Y, H, M, S
and A for the part of the day)

3. If necessary use a suffix to specify the calendar or time zone you
used (eg. _GMT1 for the Greenwich Mean Time plus one hour or _JULIAN
for the Julian calendar)

To prevent the lack of local support by the microformat processor,
it's possible to use the title attribute to embed a number only (human
readable) date format.

So, what it looks like?

Example of a full statement:
<span class="dtstart df_DMYHM_GMT1" lang="fr" title="18/01/2008
18:12">18 Janvier 2008 à 18h12</span>

Example of a short statement:
<span class="dtend df_DMY">31/01/2008</span>

What do you think about such a solution? Is it a good compromise to
address accessibility issues AND technical issues?

Jeremie Patonnier

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