There are some web sites that, when they start to use certain certain technologies, it becomes a ‘seal of approval’. When a massive site like the BBC starts using technology X, it’s a fairly good indication that the technology involved has gone through various assessments before being declared safe. The Microformats team have probably (and this is just an assumption, don’t shoot me!) used said web site as an example of adoption of the hCalendar Microformat (for marking up event dates/times), but now it seems that the BBC are having second thoughts.
The announcement on Monday that the BBC is withdrawing hCalendar markup from its schedules must come as a blow to the Microformats supporters. For the accessibility community as a whole, it must be a good thing. On numerous occasions, accessibility experts have pressed for changes to the ABBR design pattern – the underlying source of the problem – such that screen reader users are not subjected to incomprehensible information when coming across the abbreviated (or rather machine-readable) version of the date/time.
Let’s hope that the BBC’s withdrawal of hCalendar as a whole, for the time being, spurs the Microformats group into coming up with a workable solution to the problem once and for all, rather than sticking to their guns and hoping the protests will simply go away.