David Berman Communications
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eAccessibility and WCAG … Web, Office, InDesign, PDF: easy steps for including your entire audience

la version française de ce séminaire et le manuel

WCAG, AODA, ADA, Section 508 course (Leaving No One Behind Online)

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Transcript | David Berman on The New Standard on Web Accessibility WCAG 2.0 events

Transcript of the video David Berman on The New Standard on Web Accessibility WCAG 2.0 events.

(The speaker, David Berman is a Web Accessibility expert. He is sitting in an armchair by the fireplace. Throughout the entire video, he addresses the camera directly.)

I’m David Berman and I’m often asked why Web accessibility matters so much, and why people should care: why people should bother making sure their web presences are accessible.

The simple answer is legislation tells us we have to. I have the background of knowing how to make websites accessible and i’ve put together this one-day course which takes you through why it matters, what the major issues are,and how to make your web presence accessible. It’s really important for us that when people come out of this course that they have usable knowledge.

And so we focus on WCAG 2.0 Level AA. Why? Because that’s the standard that the United States has in Section 508. That’s the standard that the Canadian government has chosen, and the new Web standards and provinces and states like Ontario’s AODA call for that level AA compliance. If you learn this, you’ll learn the standard that everyone in the world is heading towards.

The most important point I want to share is that accessibility matters to everyone.

When we know how to make a site accessible for the extremes, and we do it well, we do it in a way that the site becomes more usable for everyone.

A more usable site is going to make it more likely that your audience is going to connect with your message. If you can get your audience to support themselves by going to the site, you can drive down your support costs, as well as having more satisfied customers.

Why wouldn’t you want that? [chuckles] I find this course is fascinating and educational for both people in management, as well as IT professionals.

I find when people come out of this course they’re excited, they’re motivated, they’re entertained.

Most importantly, they’re educated … and the information sticks. Over the past ten years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of organizations on four continents: professionals who see the value to their business, to their communities,to their bottom line, in making their web sites more accessible.

If you’re a manager, if you’re an IT professional, if you’re a programmer, if you’re a designer, join us: for web accessibility matters.

(Text on screen:

Web Accessibility Matters.

www.davidberman.com )

(David Berman Communications wordmark)


Now covering WCAG 2.0 and 2.1!

We’ve put together a comprehensive, powerful and memorable event, where attendees walk away with immediately-applicable tips and techniques to make their sites and documents accessible.


Register For November 29, 2018 – Online

“One of the most inspiring speakers I have ever met. I enjoyed learning from him the entire morning and wish it would have been a full day”

– Cherrie Werestiuk-Evans, Government of Manitoba

“I thoroughly enjoyed David’s presentation and am thinking of so many uses for what I have learned… this was one of the most interesting and useful hours I’ve spent in 2016.”

– Carol Tobiassen, United Health Group

“Excellent facilitator… great presentation”

– Patricia Slatlen, Shaw Media

“David used real-life examples, got people up and interacting. It was an amazing experience”

– Andrew Davies, Shaw Media

“Very knowledgeable and charismatic. Made the talk about a somewhat dry subject very interesting, and he never faltered on a question.”

– Bjorn Ramroop, Loblaw Digital

“He’s so enthusiastic it’s contagious.”

– Collette Boisvert, Conference Board of Canada

Course Description

It used to be that the only way to comply with accessibility standards for persons with disabilities or difficulties was to publish content in HTML. One of the most exciting parts of the new Standard On Web Accessibility and WCAG is that it has become feasible for you to choose PDF as the only container for certain content on your Web site … but only if you know how. We’ve worked with industry leaders such as Adobe to put together this comprehensive and powerful course, where attendees walk away with immediately-applicable tips and techniques to make all their pages and sites more accessible.

De-mystify how to make online or offline Web and PDF accessible whether your source is Word, Excel, PowerPoint, InDesign… or existing PDF. Now covering WCAG 2.0 and 2.1!

Most adults suffer from some level of disability or difficulty that can be mitigated through accessible technologies. And when we design for the extremes, everyone benefits.

Not only will you comply with the standards (AODA, WCAG, Standard On Web Accessibility, Section 508, PDF/UA…): you’ll be broadening the audience for your content while enriching the experience of existing users, reduce your publishing costs, and also improve your search results.

Meet the new accessibility laws faster, and with no programming knowledge required. Broaden audiences, improve Google reach, while making sites accessible to all. Spend a day with David Berman or his colleagues, rated #1 on this topic in North America, and learn how to comply with new laws and WCAG guidelines on access for disabilities.

Whether you are new to accessibility and WCAG, or already familiar with WCAG, you’ll learn immediately-applicable tips and techniques in this powerful accessibility course.

This course incorporates adult learning principles and activities appropriate to a variety of learning styles, and qualifies for CEUs (certified by organizations such as PPAC).

Our course and manual contain everything you need to know in order to pass the CPACC certification examination.

“Inspiring, engaging … techniques I can use.”

– Liv Stenersen, Government Administration Services, Oslo (Norway)

“Easy to understand … passion for his topic…a great presenter…explained our issues in understandable ways.”

– Calline Au, Queensway Carleton Hospital, Ottawa

“The whole thing was incredible … amazing! We are better off knowing now what we didn’t know we didn’t know!”

– Tracy Noonan, Smiling Cat Design, Perth

“Helped me actually understand what we as an organization must do to mitigate.”

– Taylor Linseman, CHEO, Ottawa

“Great mix of humor and knowledge”

– Joy Moskovic, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Ottawa

We will equip you with arguments why accessibility is important for everybody, then provide in-depth familiarity with federal and international guidelines that will help your Web and PDF content be a more effective resource for your entire audience. You’ll also get familiar with assistive technologies that help people with specific disabilities and difficulties.

Canada’s federal government led the world when it first introduced its accessibility-centric CLF policy, now replaced with its Standard On Web Accessibility and Standard on Web Usability. Our full-day course includes a thorough review of every pertinent standard that apply to accessible Web and PDF, including other policies which call for WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA compliance (such as U.S. Section 508, ADA, and Ontario’s AODA). These new standards allow PDF to be your primary format, but only if your PDF is truly accessible. We’ll cover everything from tables to charts to fillable forms to free testing tools you can start using immediately.

Finally, you’ll venture into where accessibility meets usability. Not only will you leave with ideas you can use right away, you may also gain a whole new attitude towards how technology can improve lives. By the end of the day you will not only be aware of why accessibility and standards affect everyone: you’ll be equipped with a thorough understanding of the best strategies to approach what needs to be done and how, in order to drive down costs, increase reach, and improve SEO.

“Excellent… knowledge I can use.”

– Sandra Clark, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Oslo (Norway)

“Focused and easy to follow.”

-Jason Hollett, gordongroup

“Great. He kept me listening and understanding.”

– Matthew Brunetti, Lixar IT

Each full-day participant leaves with a comprehensive 160+ page learning guide, detailing every relevant accessibility success criterion.


– Morten Budeng, King Design


– Sylvie Nyman, Indian and Northern, Affairs Canada

“Great, easy to understand, not overwhelming.”

– Steve Wong, Olson

“The talk was very useful because technical details were not glossed over, and specific examples were used to demonstrate possible solutions.”

– Bjorn Ramroop, Loblaw Digital


Impressions on David Berman e-Accessibility course at OCAD, 29 June 2015


Shaw Media talks about David Berman Communications onsite accessibility course

What’s Wrong

Computer-mediated accessibility to information represents the greatest liberation in human history. Most people in our societies live with some amount of physical or mental difficulty, and that can stand in the way of clear communication if proper design steps are not taken.

Although most professional development teams now create their products with the latest responsive and platform issues in mind, they still experience difficulty meeting or exceeding meeting accessibility standards. And when they do, they often spend more time and effort than they need to reaching and maintaining their products to those standards. By not understanding why each standard or technique exists, they risk doing unnecessary work, making the site less attractive or useful to the mainstream audience … and with perhaps mediocre results for people living with disabilities.


“Very good speaker – good sense of humour.”

– Johan Fong, House of Commons


– Sjur Kristiansen, Telenor Telecommunications Group

“Eye-opening. Love your method of teaching.”

– Jean Descrochers, National Research Council

“I enjoyed it all.”

– Robert Hallat, Public Service Commission

“Right on target.”

– Marius Monsen, Reaktor ID

“He knows what to do! This will guide us for the AA Standards”

– Bassil Wehbe, Agriculture Canada

What Makes This Course Unique

Our course developer, David Berman, is a consultant on strategy for large Web sites, and has worked on Web accessibility projects for many organizations including Statistics Canada, the National Research Council, BMO, and IBM. He has been the project manager of numerous accessible Web projects, has developed strategy and design for CFIA, CRA, CMHC, Health Canada, Canadian Heritage, Industry Canada, Veterans Affairs, and the International Space Station … as well as many private sector and non-profit organizations.

By addressing and understanding accessibility issues, Web developers can more effectively deliver their message to their whole audience, while complying with the legal and moral responsibilities, regardless of physical or mental impediment.


What You Will Learn

You will learn how to make your current sites more accessible by complying with current standards and guidelines. Specifically, you will learn:

First Half (morning of a full-day course)

  • why accessibility matters to everyone, not just those with disabilities
  • the major disabilities and challenges: what they are and how most of us have some level of difficulty that can be assisted by accessible design
  • assistive technologies we can typically use to mitigate these issues
  • examples of accessible multimedia
  • how accessibility will help your bottom-line
  • overview of regulations

Second Half (afternoon of a full-day course)

  • W3C WCAG guidelines
  • current standards (AODA, Section 508, Canada’s Standard on Web Accessibility)
  • specific technologies and design techniques used to satisfy accessibility concerns
  • testing frameworks for accessibility issues
  • how to make PDF files more accessible
  • specific techniques to save money through accessible coding
  • where accessibility meets usability
  • draft standards on developing accessible PDF and metadata
  • specific technologies and design techniques used to satisfy core PDF accessibility issues
  • how to make PDF files more accessible
  • understanding of how enterprise-wide document development processes can save money and time while automating PDF generation
  • testing frameworks for PDF accessible

“Very good: made me think…”

– Bente Mollevik, Norwegian Savings Bank Association

“Great: very comprehensive. Touching on all aspects of accessibility.”

– Marc Iafelice, CFIA

“David really knows his topics. Very well done: got the point across in a way that can be apply to everyone.”

– Sean Strasbourg, CFIA

“Best webinar/training session I have participated in. David was fantastic, easy-going, passionate, friendly, and an expert.”

– Mary Foley, US Department of Agriculture


At the end of this event, you will:

  • know many techniques you can apply right away to make content more accessible
  • have a comprehensive understanding of W3C WCAG, PDF/UA, AODA, ADA, and other current government accessibility guidelines and how to meet them
  • be able to make informed decisions as to what degree to comply with accessibility standards
  • be aware of techniques that can vastly reduce the cost of publishing online
  • understand better the experience of those with disabilities using the Web, multimedia, and apps
  • know you’re doing the “right thing” by ensuring accessibility for all


– Steinar Sandum, Adax, Svelvik (Norway)

“Interesting content, really well delivered. Visual and engaging. Gives us a common language and approach.”

– Chris Cook, CFIA

“Although I am from a program with no technical background, this seminar will change the way we prepare/write/present documents, policies, directives, forms, etc for posting on the Web.”

– Sharon Drolet, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Typical Agenda for Full Day Course


  1. Why should we care?
  2. What are the challenges people face?
  3. What assistive technologies close the gaps?
  4. What are the standards?  Demystifying the acronyms…
    1. ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act
    2. Section 508
    3. AODA: Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (the World’s strongest and where USA is going)
    4. Standard on Web Accessibility
    5. PDF/UA: the accessibility standard for PDF
    6. WCAG: the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
  5. What do you need to know about the WCAG success criteria?
  6. How do professionals in your industry comply with every success criteria, without tradeoffs?
  7. What are the testing tools to confirm you’re meeting or exceeding the standards?
  8. What else should you consider? Level AAA, email, social media, etc.
  9. Q&A until we run out of questions!

What You Get

When David Berman Communications hosts this course*, regular ticket holders receive:

  • a complimentary, comprehensive 160+ page learning guide, detailing every major accessibility guideline (also available separately for $97 with optional 1-on-1 distance coaching)
  • meals, snacks and beverages
  • a signed course certificate, suitable for framing
  • a thirty-minute one-on-one personal coaching tele-session with David within a month
  • the option to attend this course again in the future, as a refresherat no additional cost
  • the option to attend the first half on one date and the second half at a future date
  • money-back guarantee: if, after coaching and refresher, you don’t think you’ve got your money’s worth, we’ll refund your entire registration fee

(*If you are attending one of our courses hosted by another organization, confirm which of these items apply.)
Register or call 1-613-728-6777… or bring this event to your site: for a keynote, half-day, or full-day event, customized for your group.

Choose your date and register now

Prerequisites: None (no programming experience required)

photo of David addressing a theatre audience of over 100 people

Berman leading a workshop on accessibility in Oslo, Norway

“Clear and entertaining: will allow more strategic planning rather than just reactionary stumbling.”

– Steve Doody, Justice Canada

“This will make us better communicators.”

– Luc Bergeron, SSHRC


– Jean Leclair, Environment Canada

“Loved the examples. David is very engaging and knowledgeable facilitator. His passion is obvious. Will help me better evangelize.”

– Patrick Dunphy, CBC

“Excellent: very engaging speaker.”

– Jean-Marc Mondoux, Elections Canada

About our Expert Speakers

David Berman, the developer and trainer for all our course material and course leaders, is the principal of David Berman Communications.

David Berman has over 30 years of experience in design and communications and has worked extensively in e-accessibility and inclusive interface design. As an author (Do Good Design), expert speaker, designer, communications strategist, his professional work has brought him to over 50 countries.

In 2017, David was named to the AODA Standards Committee by the Government of Ontario, to help improve Ontario’s world-beating accessibility legislation.

David is an Invited Expert to the W3C, the publishers of the WCAG standard for e-accessibility. In 2015, he was made an International Advisor by the G3ICT, fitting with his work helping advise governments on four continents on establishing inclusive design policy. In 2015, he was named International Universal Design Champion for the Government of Ireland. In 2012, David was appointed chair of the Carleton Access Network at Carleton University. In 2009, David was appointed a high-level advisor to the United Nations on how accessible Web design thinking can help fulfill the Millennium Development Goals.

His clients include BMO, IBM, Honda, the International Space Station, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the World Bank, Sierra Club and the Aga Khan Foundation. David’s work includes award-winning projects in the application of plain language, typeface design, and the development of a system to republish the laws of Canada in plain writing and design.

In 2013, The World Wide Web Foundation had David personally audit the accessibility of benchmark Web sites from over 40 countries for their global report on the state of the Web.

He is a member of the ISO standards committee on accessible PDF documents.

His book (Do Good Design, Pearson/Peachpit, 2009) about how design can be used to create a more just world speaks about universal design and accessibility, and is now available in 6 languages, as well as braille.

He regularly teaches accessibility principles as part of his professional development workshops, and developed custom workshops for the National Research Council and Ontario’s largest school board.

David’s opinions have been featured in the Financial Post, the Globe And Mail, the Ottawa Citizen, the Montreal Gazette, Marketing, Applied Arts, HOW, and Communication Arts magazines, as well as ABC and CBS.

David ranks #1 on speakerwiki.org on this topic for a reason. His arc as an internationally-celebrated expert speaker has brought him to over 30 countries. He is a National Professional Member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) and the Global Speakers Federation (GSF).

David is currently Ethics Chair of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, was named a Fellow (the highest professional honour for graphic designers in Canada) in 1999, and has served as a director and sustainability chair of ico-D, the world body for graphic and communications design.

Guest Presenters

We include guest subject matter experts within a full-day course. For example, he has been joined by:

  • Jeff Braybrook (CEO, Blueprint), former Deputy Chief Technology Officer for the Government of Canada

Who Should Attend

This course is targeted to all writers, editors, designers, programmers, developers involved in developing Web sites, documents, or new media projects.

  • communications professionals
  • writers
  • editors
  • content owners
  • word processors
  • graphic designers
  • instructional designers
  • software developers, mobile app and game developers
  • quality controllers
  • people who need to get their Web site compliant with current and future government accessibility standards (e.g. W3C WCAG, ADA, Section 508, AODA)
  • people who coordinate people who build Web sites

This course delivers all the knowledge required for Level A and Level AA awareness training as documented in the Government of Canada’s Accessibility Responsibility Breakdown (WCAG 2.0). This course incorporates adult learning principles and activities appropriate to a variety of learning styles, and qualifies for CEUs.


English or French available on-site.


One-day course, half-day course, or keynote presentation (we also provide this course customized on-site for your organization).

To be notified via e-mail of when we schedule new instances of this topic, subscribe to our E-Newsletter.

Comparison to Similar Courses from Other Providers

Course David Berman Communications Canadian School of Public Service (CSPS)
Course Name The new Standard On Web Accessibility Web Accessibility Standard for the Government of Canada (T710)
Duration 1 day: 0900-1615 with 1-on-1 follow-up 3 days: 0830-1630
Price: $354 to $649 $900
Location Multiple locations Ottawa
Track record of course: Since 2002 Since 2011
Presenter David Berman: ranked #1 on this topic in Canada (speakerwiki.org), national member CAPS ?
Open to: all public servants only


“Wonderful handout! The way extra information, like links and explanations, is included works beautifully.”

– Elizabeth Strand, Making Waves, Oslo (Norway)

“Very understandable and fun.”

– Liz Breines, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Oslo (Norway)

“Highly valuable.”

– Maureen Quirouet, Parliament of Canada


– Sylvie Nyman, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

“Excellent storytelling. Thanks!”

– Sarah Rosenbaum, Norwegian Knowledge Centre for Health Services

“Makes you feel you are part of the course.”

– Arup Ghosh, BMO Financial Group (Bank of Montreal)

“Excellent, eye-opening, and not preachy!”

– Carrie Walker-Boyd, Canadian Food Inspection Agency


Return to top

Reviewed March 30, 2016




For the convenience of course attendees, we provide this list of hypertext links and books cited in this course’s learning guide roughly in the order they appear in the course and learning guide:

Legislation, lawsuits, and standards

Other countries

Accessibility guidelines

Assistive technologies and techniques

Visual difficulties
Dexterity/mobility/motor difficulties


Hearing difficulties

iOS Accessibility

Android, Windows Phone Accessibility

WCAG 2.0 (including Success Criteria Level A and AA, in order)

Guideline 1.1: Text Alternatives
Guideline 1.2: Time-based Media
Guideline 1.3: Adaptable
Guideline 1.4: Distinguishable
Guideline 2.1: Keyboard Accessible
Guideline 2.2: Enough Time
Guideline 2.3: Seizures
Guideline 2.4: Navigable
Guideline 3.1: Readable
Guideline 3.2: Predictable
Guideline 3.3: Input Assistance
Guideline 4.1: Compatible, etc.

Testing tools for web and mobile

WCAG 2.1 (including the new Success Criteria Level A and AA, in order)

Document standards, techniques and testing

Instructional design software: Adobe Captivate

Instructional design software: Articulate Storyline

Instructional design software: other

Accessible virtual classroom platforms

Introduction to Online Learning and Accessibility

Accessible content management

White papers

Other accessibility links


Poster on Carleton's READ initiative presents "The New Standard on Accessibility: WCAG 2.0" course on Friday November 1 2013.Poster on Carleton's READ initiative presents "The New Standard on Accessibility: WCAG 2.0" course on Friday November 1 2013.







opens in a new browser windowSpeaker introduction for this eventSpeaker introduction for this event in Portable Document Format [50KB]

View a sample publicity poster for the event


For a fully keyboard-accessible alternative for this video, either view it in Chrome or any Android or iOS device, view in Firefox with the YouTube ALL HTML5 add-on installed, or disable Flash in current Internet Explorer.

David Berman speaks at edUI 2010: Beyond Green: Designing Our Sustainable Future


edUI 2010
Virginia Foundation for The Humanities, Charlottesville VA | November 2010


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11 Responses to “eAccessibility and WCAG … Web, Office, InDesign, PDF: easy steps for including your entire audience”

  1. Geordie Graham says:

    Hi David,

    I wanted to say that I loved taking your course last week. I do have one major question though. How would you recommend performing accessibility checks with native mobile applications for iOS and Android after they have been released? Are there any apps that can do this yet?

    • David Berman says:

      Hi Geordie,

      Thank you for the kudos on the course. I really enjoyed your level of participation and kind words about it. And OCAD is so awesome.

      Regarding your question about performing accessibilty audits on native mobile applications (iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry,…): absolutely yes: we have techniques for testing every WCAG 2.0 criterion on apps. (In fact we have an entire course and manual on this). It is trickier than desktop, because the tools are not as plentiful. Many of the techniques are easiest using emulators on the desktop, or attaching a bluetooth keyboard, or mirroring to larger monitors. However there is always a way!

  2. Jennifer Beer says:

    I have to say, I find it somewhat amusing that you include a poorly captioned video in a post on making sure web presences are accessible… or should I say “making sure their web presence is art sesame” since that’s what your captions say! Closed captioning is included in WCAG 2.0 level AA, is essential for the Deaf and hard of hearing, as well as second language learners, people watching media in noisy places or places with a lack of privacy, adds clarity where speakers have unfamiliar accents or there is unfamiliar terminology, and has the added benefit of enhancing SEO. If you’re committed to web accessibility, caption your video!

    • David Berman says:

      Jennifer, mea culpa! We had Google’s raw machine translation wrongly enabled on that version. We’ve swapped in our proper captions so it is now as it should be. “art sesame” indeed! What a great example of machine captioning gone wrong: I’ve screen captured it for my WCAG 2.0 course where we show people how to use machine captioning as a starting point to efficient excellent manual captioning. Thank you again for taking the time to point it out.

      Also thank you for sharing your excellent list of why competent captioning matters: total agreement! One more thing to add to your list: captioned video also created a starting point for manual or machine translation to other languages. One of my favorite examples of when captioning benefits everyone is when we’re at the gym and there are five treadmills and five televisions tuned to different channels: so of course they turn the volume off and turn the captions on! When we design for the extremes, everyone benefits.

      PS. I went to make a thank you donation to chs.ca and there is a security problem on your Donate Now button: your security certificate is reporting as expired which definitely discourages donors.

  3. sjw says:

    Hi David, I have a new question for you. In IE8 when using a select box that contains more than one option there is a browser problem when zooming in to increase the size of the font for a user that has decreased vision. The select box remains at a relatively stable size, so the more the user zooms in the more the option displayed is cut off, and just shows the tops of the word. Do you know of a solution to this issue?

    • David Berman says:

      Hi. This could be one of several issues. Could you please email me a screen capture, and tell what OS version you are running, to make sure I am understanding correctly? Thank you.

  4. sjw says:


    My question relates to the use of acronym tags, however, I realize that this tag is being deprecated in HTML5. Regardless, the use of the tag whether it be acronym or abbr remains the same. As you know the federal government has its own language in acronyms and often page content can contain not just many instances of a particular acronym but also may have many different acronyms present as well. Understanding the correct implementation of this tag will save hours of rework in the future. Please correct any wrong statements and elaborate on the misunderstood statements below.

    * The correct syntax of an acronym tag is Treasury Board Secretariat.

    *All acronyms can be tagged but the title element is always used in the tag when present.

    *All acronyms should be tagged to force the screen readers to read them as separate letters instead of a word but the title element should only be used in the first instance. For example: ISO.

    *Once the first instance of the acronym has been coded with the correct syntax as in the first bullet, it is not necessary to wrap the other instances of the acronym in a tag.

    *If the tag is presented without the title element most browsers present an indicator that there is attached info. However, for the sighted user this is incorrect but this does allow the unsighted user to get the acronym delivered correctly. Which way should have precedence in your opinion?

    *Acronym tags are not mandatory in WCAG 2.0.

    *Incorrect use of the acronym tag is a fail under Success Criteria 1.3.1 – Technique F43.

    • David Berman says:

      Hi! I’m glad you enjoyed our training session, and I thank you for these questions, as I’ve received many inquiries about acronyms lately, and am eager to share some clarity.
      You are correct that ACRONYM is deprecating in favour of ABBR, as an acronym is simply an instance of an abbreviation. Assistive technologies generally treat both the same way (a notable exception being around IE6 which alone supported ACRONYM yet not ABBR).
      Therefore, in my responses to each of your statements I’ll dwell on ABBR though my comments also apply to ACRONYM…

      sjw: * The correct syntax of an acronym tag is Treasury Board Secretariat.
      David: For HTML, the correct typical syntax would be <acronym title="Treasury Board Secretariat">TBS</acronym> for the acronym element, though I recommend you replace acronym with abbr. For PDF, you would use an /E structure instead.

      sjw: *All acronyms can be tagged but the title element is always used in the tag when present.
      David: Almost true. Using the ABBR element to make an abbreviation clearer is one way of doing so, in which case the TITLE attribute should be present. However, there are some situations where an ABBR (or ACRONYM) isn’t technically possible (for instance, within an alt attribute when providing a text description of an image) in which case it is best to simply spell out the term. Also, when an acronym is first used, it is a common technique to spell out the term in parentheses immediately following the acronym) for all to “see”: in such cases also using an ABBR or ACRONYM would by dysfunctionally redundant (as, for instance, someone using a screen reader would then wrongly hear the expanded form twice).

      sjw: *All acronyms should be tagged to force the screen readers to read them as separate letters instead of a word but the title element should only be used in the first instance. For example: ISO.
      David: Untagged, the screen reader is going to read an all caps word as separate letters. And I think that all instances should be coded identically (see my next response…)

      sjw: *Once the first instance of the acronym has been coded with the correct syntax as in the first bullet, it is not necessary to wrap the other instances of the acronym in a tag.
      David: Although there is a debate around whether to TITLE every instance or just the first instance, I’m in the every-instance camp, for many reasons:
      – there are cases where the same abbreviation will appear with two different meanings on the same page, for example “Dr. Bombay, 123 Riverside Dr., Ottawa”.
      – not every assistive technology is going to elegantly apply the one instruction to all instances of an identical abbreviation, and we are always seeking device independence
      – down the road a developer or algorithm may cut and paste a portion of your page into another page, and thus lose the rule
      – it is more difficult to do quality assurance if not all instances are handled the same way

      sjw: *If the tag is presented without the title element most browsers present an indicator that there is attached info. However, for the sighted user this is incorrect but this does allow the unsighted user to get the acronym delivered correctly. Which way should have precedence in your opinion?
      David: I recommend that you always include the title attribute. Also, don’t forget the value of potentially also including a LANG attribute whenever the expanded version is not in the language of the page.

      sjw: *Acronym tags are not mandatory in WCAG 2.0.
      David: Nothing is mandatory in WCAG 2.0 . Rather, for the example of Treasury Board of Canada, their site is governed by the Canadian government’s new Standard On Web Accessibility, which makes compliance mandatory for all WCAG 2.0 success criteria of Level A and Level AA (with some exceptions). Because the WCAG 2.0 success criterion for expanding on abbreviations (3.1.4) is designated Level AAA, including ABBR (or ACRONYM) is not mandatory under the Standard On Web Accessibility.

      sjw: *Incorrect use of the acronym tag is a fail under Success Criteria 1.3.1 – Technique F43.
      David: Yes, that would be a Level A failure. I think what we’re getting at here is someone wrongly using ABBR or ACRONYM to force the visual dotted underline effect in many browsers. Of course, more generally, there are other success criteria which would also be failed with wonton miscoding of ABBR (or any element for that matter).

      All around, ABBR elements are a blessing, and one can even control them further through CSS. And, although designated Level AAA, the folks in marketing for sites seeking A or AA compliance will also appreciate the potential control that the use of ABBR can give to how any abbreviated brand “sounds” online.

      Final tip: don’t forget that you can also use ABBR in the opposite way in table header rows, providing a more terse alternative heading that will have the benefit of reducing the read-out-loud time of phrases that will be read repeatedly by a screen reader.

      • sjw says:

        Thanks for your response David. It will help us to determining how we will implement this tag in the future. In regards to your statement “Untagged, the screen reader is going to read an all caps word as separate letters.”, I have listened to our pages with both Jaws and NVDA and did not find this to be true. Is there a setting in these readers that would be set to ensure that all caps words will be read as separate letters?

        • David Berman says:

          You’re right: my statement is too broad. Both NVDA and JAWS have logic where if the abbreviation has sufficient vowels to be pronounceable AND the phrase is not in their exception dictionary, then they may try to sound it out (i.e. an acronym), rather than spell out each letter (i.e. an initialism). These algorithms are more likely to spell out when the word is all caps, but you still won’t necessarily get the result you desire: further discouraged by the fact that NVDA currently effectively ignores and , while JAWS ships with the user preference to expand them turned off.
          However, if you really want to make sure that a given abbreviation will be spelled out when the assistive technology and user preferences are ready to accommodate, here’s the deeper best practice…
          In your CSS, specify these styles:

          abbr.acronym {speak:normal;}
          abbr.initialism {speak:spell-out;}

          … now that you have established a class that distinguishes initialisms, then for each abbreviation you would prefer spelled out, you would code like this example:

          <abbr class=initialism>ISO</abbr>

          (note that you don’t need a TITLE in this situation, as this assumes you don’t want to present “International Standards Organization” in any case).

          You could go even deeper, with a class for truncations, for instance.

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