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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 22:59:47 +0000
Message-ID: <474CA163.6080607@cfit.ie>
To: "Dr. Olaf Hoffmann" <Dr.O.Hoffmann@gmx.de>
CC: public-html@w3.org

Hi Olaf,

Dr. Olaf Hoffmann wrote:
> 1. more semantical structure [...]
> User agents can simply derive the hierarchical structure of the headings
> (and their styling) from the hierarchical structure of section elements
> automatically.

Is this from their placing within the document? Does it happen by the UA
counting the nodes in the DOM or similar?

>If a screen reader or a viewer can make a difference
> between h1 and h2, it should be possible too to count section levels
> while reading/displaying it.

Ok, but please clarify exactly how.

> 2. it avoids ambiguities, as in your example
> (the ambiguity can be avoided of course by using div in HTM4 with a class
> attribute with the value like 'section').

Yes. Hence my thoughts that <section> and <div> are essentially the
same. Though as James pointed out <section> is not strictly speaking
semantically neutral at all.

> 3. it is simpler to reuse content in different environments as done
> very often for example with server sided scripting or with chapters
> from different authors in one document or in anthologies.

Yes. I can see how that could be very useful for content that is put
together on the fly - print on demand publishing etc.

> This is an advantage for users, because now the user agent can
> derive the hierarchical structure, even if the author or the script
> did not care about it, author or script have only to use sections
> to get a sufficient structure in quite different environment without
> changing the content of text fragments.

Again, I would really like to know how before I can "trust" that this is
the case. As I stated earlier I am trying to understand how this will
work for users of AT. If there was a "Sections List" in the JAWS or
other screen readers virtualisation features then this will be fine. For
example the number of <section> elements could be listed (Indexed from
1) and then the document structure could be inferred and navigated by
the user in a dialogue box but then this kind of feature will need to be
implemented/supported by UA vendors. The <section> element would then
take the place of numbered H tags and remove the load on authors to have
to think about how their content could be structured. Also a real
benefit of this method is for dynamically generated content documents
can then be structured correctly on the fly by the UA reading how the
DOM has been constructed or similar.

However this is a little "Tomorrows world" at the moment, I guess.

Received on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 23:00:10 UTC

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