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â€œIâ€™m all in favor of semantic markup, but if it will cause difficulty in a user agent, whether itâ€™s a browser, a screen reader or anything else, the markup should be compromised to make the information easier to digest.â€
This is a little too absolute for my taste. As with everything else in web design, itâ€™s a trade-off: is the time spent on the workaround worthwhile? All else being equal, Iâ€™d pick the solution that satisfies the WCAG and minimizes the time spent on the problem. In this case itâ€™s an alternative interface.
â€œItâ€™s unfortunate that certain user agents incorrectly interpret semantics, but to claim that â€˜any incompatibility with screen readers is an issue that the screen reader developers need to deal withâ€™ is creating a scapegoat and avoids providing a solution.â€
Iâ€™m not making them a scapegoat; itâ€™s their product. They need to be held accountable; thatâ€™s why we have standards in the first place. And there is an interim solution: provide an alternative interface until the semantics are correctly interpreted by screen readers. Itâ€™s in the long-term interest of accessibility if designers and developers demand proper standards support from all user agents. Thereâ€™s no reason why we canâ€™t fight on two fronts at once.