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Re: Widget Accessibility

From: Simon Harper <simon.harper@manchester.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 14 Aug 2009 11:21:17 +0100
Message-Id: <4A4962AE-AF09-4A7C-98D4-E9A209DD0EE9@manchester.ac.uk>
Cc: public-webapps@w3.org
To: marcosc@opera.com
Hi there, thanks for this.

On 14 Aug 2009, at 10:12, Marcos Caceres wrote:

> Hi Simon,
>
> On Thu, Aug 13, 2009 at 7:45 PM, Simon
> Harper<simon.harper@manchester.ac.uk> wrote:
>> Hi there Marcos, sorry for the delay in responding - I've been  
>> thinking
>> about this...
>>
>> It seems to me that the current aspects of accessibility and  
>> notification is
>> built in general for content, yet we are trying to use it in the  
>> context of
>> applications.
>
> Right.
>
>> If the Web 'page' is going to present content we need content  
>> accessibility
>> (which we kind-of have).
>> If the Web 'page' is an application we need application  
>> accessibility (which
>> we don't have).
>
> The distinction between "page" and "application" was broken down the
> second the DOM became accessible through script (around 1995). There
> are no "pages", only applications of HTML that behave metaphorically
> as static "pages" (HTML5 was originally called "Web Applications 1.0"
> for this reason [1]). Anyway, that's a rat-hole that we should not go
> down.
>

This is case to everyone technical at the development end. But for  
every designer (oops web developer) we speak to - with mainly  
backgrounds in print media / graphic design and with dream weaver on  
their desktop - this is not how it seems.


>> To me this seems to suggest that we need the kind of accessibility  
>> solutions
>> found in languages such as Java - in which there is an  
>> accessibility bridge
>> connecting the Java interpreter to the OS.
>
> Right, but you already get an "accessibility bridge" with every
> platform (java, .net, objective-c): browsers integrate as components
> into platforms, which themselves provide the accessibility hooks...

This is kind of right:
http://java.sun.com/javase/technologies/accessibility/docs/ 
jaccess-1.1/doc/bridge.html

but if the JavaScript interpreter doesn't implement this there will  
be a disconnect.

Indeed, even the heterogeneity of the content foxes us because we  
make assumptions about what something 'is' based on it's visual  
appearance as opposed to what it is in the code - the way the machine  
sees it. This is why css styled headings without heading elements are  
bad - they look like headings but the structural semantics imposed by  
the heading is lost to the machine if it is not explicit.


>
>> Rich accessibility based in an
>> implicit knowledge of the well-structured data and the way a  
>> complicated
>> structure, such as a swing widget, should be navigated and  
>> interacted with.
>> This can only come with a knowledge of the explicit structural and
>> navigational semantics of the widget, component, or application  
>> framework.
>> Indeed, I would also suggest that this accessibility can be mainly
>> facilitated without the knowledge of the developer, purely based  
>> on this
>> groups specifications of widgets and applications.
>
> Agreed.
>
>> As far as I can see, the browser is the (JavaScript+HTML)  
>> interpreter,
>> therefore a richer accessibility bridge is required, which will  
>> not be
>> addressed by ARIA alone.
>
> Why? is this speculation? or do you have data to support claims that
> HTML+ARIA does not provide sufficient structure and semantics to
> create an accessible object that can be bridged with a platform?
>

Pure speculation based on the fact that ARIA requires web designers  
do something extra - mostly this does not happen. Secondly, IMO it is  
not rich enough when used in combination with very complex  
applications. Think of a tree widget - you can build one of these  
using a combination of js, css, and html but the semantics of  
structure, control, and navigation is different for each one,  
regardless of ARIA additions. ARIA annotates what is there but does  
not impose anymore semantics than this - widgets have the opportunity  
to do this in a really powerful way. The problem in the visual  
visibility domain is that, when things don't work as you are used to,  
everything stops.


> I can see the potential benefit of having a standardized bridge for
> accessibility, but I don't believe this is something that pertains to
> widgets.

Widgets are the gateway because they describe a complicated  
combinatorial component and endow it with defined set of navigational  
and interactive semantics - widgets are really exciting in this regard.


> What you alluding to is a much wider discussion about
> accessibility of platforms in general.

I Agree

> Also, you haven't really
> presented a case that shows that the varying accessibility bridges
> across platforms is causing interoperability issues across Web
> applications (or for applications in general).
>

It wasn't my intention, I just wanted a general discussion on it, to  
see what you guys thought so I can take it back to UAWG.

> If you could show the above, then I would take that up with the WAI WG
> (though, I would sure like to hear the details).
>

Thanks for this but no need as I work on WAI UAWG and so I'd run  
stuff through them - we're a bit too focused on html5 comments at the  
moment though.
>
>

Cheers
Si.
Received on Friday, 14 August 2009 10:21:51 GMT

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