Making Accessible Websites for the United Nations

Textual Content

Acronyms and Abbreviations

WAI Definition (Checkpoint 4.2)

Specify the expansion of each abbreviation or acronym in a document where it first occurs.

Explanation

The <abbr> (abbreviation) and <acronym> tags should be used with the "title" attribute to provide explanation of the meaning of the abbreviation or acronym text in the document.

Rationale

This aids understanding by novice users and facilitates reading by screen readers which can read out the full title of the text.

Technique

When using acronyms (such as "UN", "GA", "SC") or abbreviations ("Add."), markup the acronyms and abbreviations respectively with the acronym or the abbreviation tags, and use a title attribute to elaborate on the acronym or abbreviation letters. Remember that the explanation of the acronym or abbreviation will be read as you set it in the "title" attribute; it should therefore be written as it would normally appear in running text.

Example

HTML
<p>The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been established by <acronym title="the World Meteorological Organization">WMO</acronym>.</p>
<p><abbr title="Mister">Mr.</abbr> Ban Ki-moon, <acronym title="United Nations">UN</acronym> Secretary-General</p>
CSS

Acronym and abbreviation tags can be styled using a style sheet:

acronym {
  cursor: help;
  border-bottom: 1px dotted black;
}
abbr {
  cursor: help;
  border-bottom: 1px dotted black;
}

Validation

Test

Using the Firefox Web Developer's Toolbar (plugin):
Go to Information > Display abbreviation.
This will display the title attribute of each abbreviation and acronym.

Success Criteria

Each abbreviation or acronym is marked as such, and the "title" attribute describes its meaning, as it would normally appear in running text.