[uf-discuss] Re: The datetime screen reader problem is almost
Toby A Inkster
mail at tobyinkster.co.uk
Sat Mar 29 09:51:05 PST 2008
Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis wrote:
> Actually, from lurking on mailing lists for screenreader users, changing
> settings seems commonplace.
I was going to reply to Adam's message last night, but was too tired so
went to bed instead. Ben has beaten me to it, and my thoughts on the
matter are very much in line with his.
Yes, it is true, that for the most part, people do not change their
software's initial settings. However, there are a certain class of
settings that many people -- perhaps even *most* people (yes, even non-
technical people) do change. Probably the best example is desktop
wallpaper. How many people do you really know who use their operating
system default desktop wallpaper?
The question is: is the behaviour of screen readers with regards to the
ABBR element one of this special class of frequently changed settings, or
is it not? Unless someone can cite actually research into this matter, I'm
unhappy to go along with the "it doesn't cause a problem with real-world
screen reader users" hypothesis.
Ben also raises another point that I wasn't going to mention in my
abandoned theoretical late night message. It's another point with which I
agree, and have probably mentioned before on this mailing list: that of
semantics. Even if all the accessibility problems could be solved
overnight, semantically ABBR is often still the wrong element to use -
certainly for the datetime design pattern, but also for many other ABBR
design pattern use cases. It's just icky -- especially for hCalendar's
dtend used with a date (rather than a full datetime).
What are the alternatives:
The Web Standards Project's suggestion to use OBJECT and PARAM for
datetimes <http://www.webstandards.org/2007/04/27/haccessibility/> is
nice, but can cause browser funniness, and it's too much to type anyway.
There are issues with simply supporting "title" on any old element. The
title attribute is used too much in the wild for us to easily use it. For
example, how would this work?:
<div title="My hCard" class="vcard">
<span class="fn">Toby Inkster</span>
Personally my preferred solution is Andy Mabbett's suggestion from
February this year <http://microformats.org/discuss/mail/microformats-
discuss/2008-February/011583.html>. This has been implemented in
Cognition, my semantic web parser, of which version 0.1alpha6 is due out
later today. I can vouch that it's no harder to implement than ABBR, and
it's very easy for a tool to support both.
Toby A Inkster BSc (Hons) ARCS
[Geek of HTML/SQL/Perl/PHP/Python/Apache/Linux]
[OS: Linux 220.127.116.11-mm-desktop-9mdvsmp, up 3 days, 4:45.]
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