W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-comments-wcag20@w3.org > August 2014

Comments re: Links opening new windows

From: Karl Groves <karl@karlgroves.com>
Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2014 09:43:59 -0400
Message-ID: <CABScKPDiOxHwLKBiMP8+kzwDu9U72=50jqkFaM4hts2=tq5BjQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: public-comments-wcag20@w3.org
Before my specific comments/ questions I'll provide the following
background information:

WCAG 2.0 SC 3.2.2 says: "On Input: Changing the setting of any user
interface component does not automatically cause a change of context unless
the user has been advised of the behavior before using the component."

According to WCAG2.0 documentation, change of context specifically includes
opening new windows[1]. "Example: Opening a new window, moving focus to a
different component, going to a new page (including anything that would
look to a user as if they had moved to a new page) or significantly
re-arranging the content of a page are examples of changes of context."

A user interface component is defined as "a part of the content that is
perceived by users as a single control for a distinct function"[2]

The WCAG documentation for Understanding SC 3.2.2[3] provides a note saying
"Note: This Success Criterion covers changes in context due to changing the
setting of a control. Clicking on links or tabs in a tab control is
activating the control, not changing the setting of that control."

And yet WCAC Advisory Technique G201 is titled "Giving users advanced
warning when opening a new window", and demonstrates two approaches for
providing this warning on a link.[4] and this technique is listed with/
associated to informative information regarding 3.2.2

Similar techniques include H83, SCR24, and G200. In all cases, the
technique discusses the disorientation caused by changing context
unpredictably. However, there are no failure techniques listed for *not*
declaring that a new window is opened by a link.

A nearly identical discussion on this topic took place earlier this summer
on the WAI-IG list[5]. Of particular note is Gregg Vanderheiden's thorough
response in that thread.

The general takeaway from the comments in that thread - particularly Gregg
and David's messages - is that opening new windows, with or without
warnings, is *not* a violation of 3.2.2.

Among the reasons for this not being a failure of 3.2.2 are the following:
"Opening a new window is something that can easily be - and is for many AT
is - detected, and the user notified.", and
"But clicking on a link very commonly changes the context"

The messages posted in that thread by Gregg and David are very good at
explaining the reasoning for *not* including opening links in new windows
as a failure. Gregg also makes an excellent point that "AT failures are not
Failures [when it comes to] the working group documents. "


Given the above, here are my comments:

First, a general response to the reasons provided by Gregg and David:
The detection provided by ATs (specifically screen readers) occurs *after*
the new window has been opened.  This is not a warning before the fact, as
required by 3.2.2: "unless the user has been advised of the behavior before
using the component."  Additionally, the practical reality is that only
screen readers do this detection. No mechanism exists in any other type of
AT or in any user agent and therefore this comment applies only to screen
reader users, apparently ignoring the fact that other types of people are
impacted by inaccessible systems and other types of people would need this
feature.

The statement that "clicking on a link very commonly changes the context"
ignores the many arguments provided within the G201 technique document
regarding the disorientation. While it is true that it is the nature of
navigation to change the current context, the context change that occurs
when opening a new window is more likely to disorient the user and this
fact is acknowledged in WCAG's own informative documentation. Effectively,
the context change is more drastic and, without the notification, more
likely to disorient. The user understands and expects a link to change the
current context within the current window/ tab. They do not/ should not
have to assume that a new window will open, too. This is not the defined
behavior of a link.


Here are my specific comments regarding WCAG WG information:

In WCAG SC 3.2.2, the phrase "changing the setting" is very specific and
very clearly different from "activating" a control, which is the action
taken upon links. The association of G201, despite being an Advisory
Technique, contradicts the notion that links are not covered by 3.2.2 and
only serves to confuse the reader.

If the WG intends to maintain that 3.2.2 does not apply to links, the
association of G201 within informative information of "Understanding 3.2.2"
should be removed and, if anything, associating it with 3.2.5. However
based on the information provided it doesn't appear that opening links in
new windows with the target attribute has anything to do with 3.2.2 or
3.2.5

Additionally, the "Understanding" doc contains the following note:
Note: This Success Criterion covers changes in context due to changing the
setting of a control. Clicking on links or tabs in a tab control is
activating the control, not changing the setting of that control.

I'd recommend appending more definitively worded sentence to the end of
that note, changing the note to read:
Note: This Success Criterion covers changes in context due to changing the
setting of a control. Clicking on links or tabs in a tab control is
activating the control, not changing the setting of that control. *Opening
a link in a new window or tab is not a failure of this success criteria.*


TL;DR: If opening links in new windows doesn't apply to 3.2.2 then
eliminate G201 and explicitly say so in 3.2.2's "Understanding" doc.

Thanks


1 - http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/REC-WCAG20-20081211/#context-changedef
2 -
http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/REC-WCAG20-20081211/#user-interface-componentdef
3 -
http://www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/consistent-behavior-unpredictable-change.html
4 - http://www.w3.org/TR/2014/NOTE-WCAG20-TECHS-20140408/G201
5 -
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-gl/2014JulSep/thread.html#msg14

-- 
<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-gl/2014JulSep/thread.html#msg14>

<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-gl/2014JulSep/thread.html#msg14>
<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-gl/2014JulSep/thread.html#msg14>
<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-gl/2014JulSep/thread.html#msg14>
Karl Groves
<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-gl/2014JulSep/thread.html#msg14>
www.karlgroves.com
@karlgroves
http://www.linkedin.com/in/karlgroves
Phone: +1 410.541.6829

Modern Web Toolsets and Accessibility
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uq6Db47-Ks

www.tenon.io
Received on Tuesday, 5 August 2014 13:44:31 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Saturday, 14 July 2018 08:23:16 UTC