This resonated with me:
It’s ironic to me that the numeronym “a11y” lacks accessibility: it’s not immediately decipherable by humans who aren’t “in the club”; and, in some fonts, it’s visually indistinguishable from the word “ally” (with lowercase L’s), which can foil searches for clarity.
— Eric Meyer (@meyerweb) November 5, 2018
Because I bet it took me a year after seeing that acronym (“numeronym”, I guess) for the first time to know that was just a stand-in for the word “accessibility”. I’m only now just understanding that “i18n” means “Internationalization” and “l10n” means “Localization”. I wonder how many conversations or articles I’ve missed because I just assumed the weird moniker was referring to something that had nothing to do with me. On the flip side, I wonder what good has come from having these cool words form a banner to rally under.
Lots of good conversation in that thread. I don’t know enough to have an opinion about whether anyone else should or shouldn’t use it, but remembering my own confusion, I think I’ll avoid it around here.
Oh, thank you. I wonder where these came from as it seems it’s not Twitter-influenced: https://twitter.com/dylanw/status/1059666583553896448
What’s the key to decipher these?
The number in each is the number of letters that number replaces.
I always kinda knew a11y was code for accessibility but I still always read it as “ally” in my head. Not an optimal word in my opinion.
“…not immediately decipherable by humans who aren’t ‘in the club'” – unfortunately, I think this is somewhat intentional. I’ve heard it mentioned by some with the most smug condescension.
It all depends on context. In a post where accessibility is not the major topic, I’d spell it out. In a post like this article — talking about abbreviations — it makes sense to spell it out and mention the abbreviation. In a technical article, geared towards readers that should know about it, use the abbreviation liberally.
When I first saw a11y being used, I was confused as well. But, it encouraged me to look into it and learn more about it, something I wouldn’t have otherwise done. So, please don’t avoid using it simply because many people may not know what it is. That’s how we learn.
Totally agree. It needs to be clear enough for those who are expected (or encouraged) to implement some sort of compliance. The acronym is an awkward sell, without that. Doesn’t matter if a group “self-identifies” as “XXXX”. If its not clear to those who would like to comply, then it’s a fail and needs some adjustment.
at Thomas Higginbotham – it should not be the responsibility of someone within the realm of dealing with accessibility – tech folks / web developers or otherwise to have to go scrounging for a heavily used slang term. If it is as ubiquitous as you want to claim then front and center of being introduced to understanding and using and thinking about accessibility (like at the WCAG or somewhere in the Rehab Act) the term should be clarified immediately.
It’s not my responsibility to go look up every slang term the hip kids are buzzing with every 6 months just to have a conversation about an industry topic. If you think otherwise then submit a Recommendation to the W3C for consideration – make it a Standard and we will all adhere to it.
The thread touches on this some, but it’s worth stating directly: It’s not a good look to tell underrepresented group that the term they use to self-identify is invalid.
Furthermore, terminology like “stupid”, “moronic”, and “idiotic” are ableist: https://www.autistichoya.com/p/ableist-words-and-terms-to-avoid.html
Words have power.
nowhere in the original tweet, in this article, or in any of the comments do I see anyone saying “stupid”, “moronic”, or “idiotic”. Actually, there isn’t a hint of any ‘ableism’ going on in this thread, so I’m curious why detract from the actual discussion by bringing it up? The original tweet in question brings up a very valid point—identifying a possible issue, and then proceeding to explain why. Nowhere did anyone say anything was invalid, and nobody made it an attack against an entire underrepresented group. It’s actually a pretty straightforward and constructive critique, which is a key factor in helping create a more universally accessible web.
at Eric Bailey – I interpreted your comment as a correlated example of folks needing the use of accessibility relying on the “a11y” usage instead of spelling out the full word.
And just to add to Josh Sanders comment – here is a blog post from a blind person (with history) advocating for not using “a11y” as mainstream:
If E. Bailey might clarify your comment and post to a more relevant link that references folks relying on accessibility that have embraced the usage of a”11y”. Because the link you pointed to does not have any bearing on the topic at hand.
I just learned i18n earlier today and hadn’t seen any of these before!
Wonder what people do with the characters they save writing “a11y” instead of “accesibility”, “i18n” instead of “internationalization” and such.
The 11 in a11y comes about because there are 11 characters between a and y in accessiblity. i18n has 18 letters between the I and n. And you can probably figure out l10n.