[whatwg] [br] element should not be a line break

Thomas Koetter thomas.koetter at id-script.de
Mon Aug 9 02:55:04 PDT 2010

Aryeh wrote:
>No, but it's a stand-in for a class of semantics that can only fairly
>be summarized as "the places where you would always use a line break
>in print".  There is no single behavior that screen readers could use
>to correctly present <br>, but the same is true for any number of
>other cases.

You're right that screen readers cannot convey line breaks in a manner suitable to the medium. Line breaks do not exist in speech. They are specific to text presentation and even there they are a concession to the physical limits of paper, stone tablets etc. and to usability concerns. In a browser, line breaks are completely unnecessary. Even the longest paragraph could be just one line. Let the user scroll!

That's why I originally suggested getting rid of the line break element. It is purely presentational and doesn't make sense in speech. However, we could use a break element on the text level. Breaks are natural to any medium. In speech they are represented as pauses or changes in voice/volume or beep. In print and on screen they are represented as white space or line breaks or separator lines or dots or whatever.

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