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Re: HTML 5 Authoring Guidelines Proposal the use of the section element and its potential impact on screen reader users

From: Joshue O Connor <joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie>
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2007 12:41:40 +0000
Message-ID: <474C1084.6050305@cfit.ie>
To: "Michael(tm) Smith" <mike@w3.org>
CC: Terry Morris <lsnbluff@gmail.com>, Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>, Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>, "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>


First of all apologies to Michael as he did suggest we work on a local
copy for contributing to the guidelines for authors document but I would
just like to raise (resurrect) something here.

According to the document the section element represents "a generic
document or application section". [1]

Ok, fine. but when I read the example:

<body>
  <h1>Top Level Heading</h1>
  <section>
    <h1>Second Level Heading</h1>
    <section>
      <h1>Third Level Heading</h1>
    </section>
  </section>
</body

My first though, is why would anyone want to do this?

Also (I hope) authors still write the following and produce a conformant
HTML5 document?

<body>
  <h1>Top Level Heading</h1>
  <p>Some content</p>
    <h2>Second Level Heading</h2>
    <p>Some content</p>
    <h3>Third Level Heading</h3>
  <p>Some content</p>
</body>

I guess a useful example on the authoring tools doc should be a "wow,
look what you can do with HTML 5" kind of example.

In some instances, I can see that semantically neutral elements can be
useful but in this case (if I have my accessibility hat on, which I
pretty much always do BTW) I don't know if it is.

To back peddle a little. The example on the HTML 5 Authoring Guidelines
page should be something that actually shows authors the benefits of
using the <section> element. I don't think that is happening here. In
fact it may even confuse authors and make them think there is something
wrong with writing:


<body>
  <h1>Top Level Heading</h1>
  <p>Some content</p>
    <h2>Second Level Heading</h2>
    <p>Some content</p>
    <h3>Third Level Heading</h3>
  <p>Some content</p>
</body>

when there is a disconnect between what the heading elements are stating
<h1> and what the contents of the elements are explicitly stating. For
example, <h1>Second Level Heading</h1>,  <h1>Third Level Heading</h1>.

Also has there been any consideration about how users of AT could be
effected by this? For example, to follow on from the example above a
valid conformant HTML5 document could have 10 <h1> elements embedded
within the semantically neutral <section> element.
It *may* not but it could. Apart from flying in the face of how current
HTML documents are written, this means that the screen reader user when
they use their page virtualisation controls, and extract the page
headings, they will be presented with a list of 10 <h1> headings? This
does not confer a sense of hierarchy, or document structure to the user
at all and my concern is that this method of marking up a document using
the <section> element could engender bad authoring practices.

Josh

[1] http://dev.w3.org/html5/html-author/#the-section
Received on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 12:42:04 GMT

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