The other day I wrote about how screen readers handle abbreviations. I mentioned the lack of support for the
abbr element in Internet Explorer (IE 6 and below) and how it may have led people to believe that screen readers working with Internet Explorer don’t support it either. I went on to explain that modern screen readers do support both
acronym elements, but perhaps not in the way that developers expect.
I’ve been doing a bit of poking around and it seems that
abbr elements have been available in Internet Explorer’s Document Object Model (DOM) for some time, which I didn’t realise. I’ve been able to access the
title attributes of
There have been a few ways to force IE 5 and 6 to support
So, armed with this new knowledge from Sjoerd and Jeremy, I ran another test using this
You can style it and it even displays the
title attribute as a tool tip for you! Lovely! Internet Explorer 5.01 doesn’t play ball – why am I not surprised?!
Remember, we’re not doing this for the benefit of screen readers. The modern screen readers JAWS and Window-Eyes can expand the contents of
acronym elements using their
title attributes. All we are doing is making sure Internet Explorer itself is fully aware of
abbr, enabling us to style it with CSS and manipulate it properly within the DOM. So, whether or not you want to do this is entirely based on what you do in the browser – don’t do it for the sake of assistive technology.
- Thierry Koblentz adds to the discussion and provides a demonstration in How-to make the ABBR element work in IE lt 7 (added April 8, 2008).