[whatwg] Fallback styles for legacy user agents [was: Re: Deprecating <small> , <b> ?]

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis bhawkeslewis at googlemail.com
Wed Nov 26 14:08:45 PST 2008

Calogero Alex Baldacchino wrote:
> The "foundation" style sheet may be at least a partial solution, but if 
> the browser is not aware of an element, I guess its style could not 
> apply at all. 

For popular browsers, at least, this guess is wrong. Unknown elements 
are commonly added to the Document Object Model and subject to styling.

> Anyway, a standard default style sheet could be desireable 
> both to have a standard basic layout on all browsers (as far as 
> possible, because of possible differences in CSS compliance) and as a 
> potential aid for assistive UAs, since the default sheet could cover a 
> few basic aureal properties.

Note that most assistive technology is an add-on or system utility or 
special hardware, not a browser in its own-right. For example, the most 
common user agent used by blind people is likely Internet Explorer, 
likely in combination with the JAWS screen reader. Note further that 
most such technology, in so far as it renders speech, ignores 
aural/speech CSS entirely. In particular, popular screen readers try to 
give an alternative interface to what is visible on screen.

There is a little support for aural/speech CSS: Opera for Windows with 
the Voice plugin, the Emacs/W3 and Emacspeech addons for the Emacs 
environment, the FireVox extension for the Firefox browser. None of 
these seem to be in widespread use. I'm not aware of any implementation 
support for the braille or proposed reader media types. But, yes, a 
foundation stylesheet could certainly cater to these.

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis

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