Kazuhito Kidachi's Personal Web Site Since 2000

hAccessibility and Operator

Recently, I used hCalendar of microformats for blogging and have a minor trouble with abbr design pattern. If you're not familiar with microformats and don't know what abbr design pattern is, please visit microformats.org first. Well, my trouble is: cool Operator Firefox extension can't find my hCalendar because I used span element for dtstart/dtend properties, instead of abbr element.

The main reason why I chose span was due to accessibility issue. As Accessibility Task Force of WaSP has stated in the article “hAccessibility” four months ago, screen reader can't handle ISO8601 data format well enough and provide meaningful reading for users.

Another reason is, I don't think element contents is true abbreviation for the data written in ISO8601 format. I know, HTML specification does not restrict such usage of abbr element - we can use it as abbr design pattern defines, but I'm doubtful about that from viewpoint of semantics - IMHO it's a kind of extended interpretation of abbr element, so I prefer to use span element anyway.

Though Takeshi has already submitted this issue about hAccessibility and Operator into Bugzilla as Bug 394626, Operator's developer Michael replied:

While people have suggested this change, the microformats community has not agreed that this is the right solution to the accessibility problem for dtstart/dtend.

I was disappointed with his comment - he means that Operator won't catch title attribute of span element in hCalendar as far as the community doesn't get one concrete conclusion. (BTW Tails and Tails Export can find my hCalendar as I expected.)

Please don't get me wrong, I like the idea of microformats very much. Furthermore, I respect Tantek, even though the idea probably came from his article “Human vs. ISO8601 dates problem solved” - he's very clever and nice person, I know. I just simply can't agree with the idea of abbr design pattern, and I hope that both of hAccessibility and Operator will be improved in the nearest future. That's all.

[2007-09-09 Added] Tantek has posted why Tails detects title attribute of span element on uf-discuss mailing list, titled “Microformats and title attribute parsing”, as follows:

Last time I checked, Tails incorrectly looks at the title attribute on all elements instead of just on <abbr> - I think at this point it is due to lack of maintenance than anything else. An innocent mistake that was just never corrected.

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