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Re: Interaction Context

From: Peter Korn <peter.korn@oracle.com>
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2012 13:37:13 -0700
Message-ID: <4FDF9179.80909@oracle.com>
To: Gregg Vanderheiden <gv@trace.wisc.edu>
CC: public-wcag2ict-tf@w3.org
Hi Gregg, Andi, all,

Early in our work (and in Oracle's response to the ANPRM), I've said 
that that I don't think we can find a single concept/term that can 
substitute for "web page" (and "web pages") everywhere.  In one of our 
first meetings I suggested that we revisit the term question after we've 
walked through all of the provisions, as we will then see what might 
make sense.

BUT... at the pace we are going, if we don't try to find ways of 
accelerating  our work we may not finish our first draft on time 
(already in doubt even with significant acceleration).  And... perhaps 
even if we can't find a single term that works everywhere, perhaps it 
works in enough places as to be useful, and we simply have exceptions 
(like irregular verbs) where we have a longer or otherwise different 
"applying" text for the SC.

While it is important to develop language that isn't tied to the GUI, I 
think it is very instructive to look closely at the WIMP GUI (WIMP = 
WIndows Mouse Pointer).  Because if we can't get something that works 
there, I doubt we can get something that works more generally.

We've had various proposals for language - "interaction context", 
"context of interaction", and the more GUI-specific "active window" / 
"active viewport".  I propose that we see if we can agree on an a list 
of those things in the GUI what would be (and what would NOT be) an 
"interaction context".  THEN to see whether that list of things can 
reasonably stand in for "web page" (and "set of web pages") in (enough 
of) the various provisions that use that term.  If that works, we might 
then see if we can generalize this beyond the WIMP GUI.

The sense that I get of what the "core" of this idea is of these various 
term/definition proposals, is that it is that portion of the UI that a 
user can interact with at this time - with perhaps an artificial 
exclusion of other programs that can also be interacted with directly 
(e.g. a modal dialog box is an interaction context, though the user can 
directly and immediately interact with a different application not 
connected with that modal dialog - or with aspects of the OS - without 
thereby pulling in the entire OS into the notion of "interaction context").

OK, so here's a brainstorm proposed enumeration of what IS an 
interaction context within the WIMP GUI:

  * A window, or dialog box (with or without a title) - most commonly
    the top-most or "current" window - along with anything else outside
    of that window that belongs to the same application and a user can
    directly interact (e.g. the menu bar on the top of the screen of a

And things that are NOT an interaction context within the WIMP GUI:

  * A menu bar, a menu
  * A toolbar
  * A pane of a window (e.g. in a split view or a side-by-side compare
    of two documents)
  * A list box
  * A single pane in a tab panel
  * The entire collection of tabs in a tab panel

And here are things that I'm really not sure about:

  * The Windows Explorer Taskbar.  Is this like the menu bar of the
    Macintosh UI - outside of the (Folder / drive) Windows but part of
    the Windows Explorer process and therefore a constant adjunct to the
    Explorer windows?  Or are those OS-level toolbars their own
    "interaction contexts" - since they aren't really tied to the
    Windows and in fact are nearly always active nearly all the time?
  * The Macintosh Dock.  Same comment as Windows Taskbar above...

[Also, we may need to reconcile that a web browser is software, yet by 
this definition both a portion of the web browser window - the web page 
- and the entire window, are both an "interaction context".  Is that a 

OK, so how would this division of what is/is not an "interaction 
context" work as a "web page" and "set of web pages" substitution for 
various SC?

  * *"1.4.2 Audio Control:* If any audio on a /*Web page */plays
    automatically for more than 3 seconds, either a mechanism
    <http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG/#mechanismdef> is available to pause or
    stop the audio, or a mechanism is available to control audio volume
    independently from the overall system volume level. (Level A)"

    Since we care about audio accessibility issues all the time, we need
    to make sure that everything within the WIMP GUI is contained within
    an "interaction context".  So we therefore must include "the
    desktop" as an additional case (not all UIs place the desktop
    formally in its own "window").  This concern likewise appears for
    2.1.2 No Keyboard Trap (we don't want a focus keyboard trap to be OK
    on the desktop), 2.2.2 Pause, Stop Hide, etc. etc.

  * *"2.4.1 Bypass Blocks:* A mechanism
    <http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG/#mechanismdef> is available to bypass
    blocks of content that are repeated on multiple Web pages
    <http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG/#webpagedef>. (Level A)"

    Here is the first place where we encounter the plural.  We also
    encounter a situation where what is stated in the Intent for the SC
    isn't well met by a simple substitution.  So here is a provision
    where I think we greatly benefit by moving away from a strict
    language substitution, and treat it differently (as I have tried to
    do with Proposal #3 at
    and which Gregg has further polished and shortened).

  * "*2.4.2 Page Titled:* Web pages
    <http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG/#webpagedef> have titles that describe
    topic or purpose. (Level A)"

    Do we feel that in fact a title is truly needed for everything that
    is an "interaction context"?  Does the main Windows Explorer Taskbar
    - the one that contains the "Start menu", need a title?  What about
    modal dialogs that don't have a title bar - would they all be
    non-compliant?  Or is Proposal #2 at
    enough of an "out" - that the "first words they contain" be the
    title.  And if we go with that proposal, then does the word "Start"
    in the Windows Explorer Taskbar satisfy this?  Does the Macintosh
    Dock fail to meet 2.4.2 because there is no text in the Dock?  If
    so, do we feel that failing the Dock is in keeping with the Intent
    of 2.4.2?  The Dock, after all, isn't filled with content and the
    context of the Dock makes it's meaning clear...  Also, there is
    position information in the GUI that is very different from the web
    - where each web page appears in the same place in the GUI - within
    the content region of your browser window...

    My feeling is that "interaction context" is a poor substitute for
    web page" in 2.4.2 - as it also is with 2.4.1.  This SC is an
    "irregular verb" that we just need to deal with separately, relying
    more on the Intent language.

  * *"2.4.3 Focus Order:* If a Web page
    <http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG/#webpagedef> can be navigated
    sequentially <http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG/#nav-seqdef> and the
    navigation sequences affect meaning or operation, focusable
    components receive focus in an order that preserves meaning and
    operability. (Level A)"

    Again I think we can't go the substitution route here, as much of
    the desktop GUI is reachable outside of a simple focus order (e.g.
    the menu bar is outside of the focus order; you only read it by
    going directly to it - from anywhere else - and not by TABbing
    around the UI until you reach it in a specific place in the order). 
    Alternately... do we take the out that the WIMP GUI isn't something
    "designed to be navigated sequentially"?  [I must say, the
    Mathematician in me recoils at that notion, given a deep proof in
    number theory and topology that any finite field can be ordered
    sequentially - as well as a number of infinite ones].  Of course,
    some AT (e.g. outSPOKEN for Macintosh, VoiceOver for iOS) impose
    their own sequential navigation whether one was designed or not,
    which shows the intellectual limitations of that "out" [and also
    provide a demonstration of the mathematical proof within the GUI]

  * *"2.4.5 Multiple Ways:* More than one way is available to locate a
    Web page <http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG/#webpagedef> within a set of Web
    pages <http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG/#set-of-web-pagesdef> except where
    the Web Page is the result of, or a step in, a process
    <http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG/#processdef>. (Level AA)"

    This is the second place where we get the plural, with I think a
    similar problem (as with 2.4.1).  What is the boundaries of a "set
    of interaction contexts" - when are they in the same set and when
    not?  Since the Intent spells out

I'm going to stop here; I don't want this e-mail to become an SC-by-SC 
review - we already have that process.

But at least for me, going this far in the process shows that:  (a) it 
is possible to have a term that has a consistent and useful meaning 
within the WIMP GUI, and I suspect within software UIs generally; (b) 
such a term can work as an effective stand-in for "web page" in enough 
provisions as to be useful; (c) we have a bunch of "irregular verbs" 
that we will simply have to deal with on their own and not try to force 
a "web page" language substitution on them; and finally (d) anything 
with the plural "web pages" is a strong candidate for being an irregular 


On 6/18/2012 12:27 PM, Gregg Vanderheiden wrote:
> How about the following as something to consider - work from
> Two words or a LOT of words.   But someone said (Bruce I think) that 
> substituted many words for a few to get transparency.  This is many 
> more but...
> give it a look
> give it a think
> comments welcome
> blah blah ......replacing the term */Web Page/* by the term 
>  "*/interaction context/*" _or by the definition_ */"the current set 
> of input and output elements, intended by an author to be available at 
> one time to the user, for the user to see, hear, feel or act on, where 
> the set is limited to those elements that are present if the user does 
> not act other than simple navigation among the elements"/*.
> */Set of Web page/*s currently defined in WCAG as
>     *Set of Web Pages*
>     collection of Web pages
>     <http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/#webpagedef> that share a common
>     purpose and that are created by the same author, group or organization
>     /Note: /Different language versions would be considered different
>     sets of Web pages.//
> and it becomes quite logically
> *Set of Interaction Contexts*
> collection of interaction contexts that share a common purpose and 
> that are created by the same author, group or organization
> /Note: /Different language versions would be considered different sets 
> of interaction contexts.
> The one problem I did see was that you can navigate among a set of 
> open windows from many different applications.
> So that is why the "author intent" clause is there above -- since 
> authors have no control over what all windows you have open.  and we 
> need to  keep the user from navigating among contexts and have the 
> grand sum of all open windows constitute the context.
> /Gregg/
> --------------------------------------------------------
> Gregg Vanderheiden Ph.D.
> Director Trace R&D Center
> Professor Industrial & Systems Engineering
> and Biomedical Engineering
> University of Wisconsin-Madison
> Co-Director, Raising the Floor - International
> and the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure Project
> http://Raisingthefloor.org   --- http://GPII.net

Oracle <http://www.oracle.com>
Peter Korn | Accessibility Principal
Phone: +1 650 5069522 <tel:+1%20650%205069522>
500 Oracle Parkway | Redwood City, CA 94065
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Received on Monday, 18 June 2012 20:37:56 UTC

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