W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > site-comments@w3.org > October 2005

accessibility of W3C site search

From: <Alfred.S.Gilman@IEEE.org>
Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2005 10:55:26 -0400
Message-Id: <p06110408bf74258ae1d0@[]>
To: site-comments@w3.org
[Something seems to have eaten my earlier redirect of this message
from Gregory Rosmaita.  - Al]

aloha, matthieu!

i have an issue of utmost importance to bring to your attention -
namely, the lack of proper labeling of FORM fields on:


where the following document source is found:

<!-- begin extant document source -->
<form action="http://www.w3.org/Search/Mail/Public/search" method="get">
<p><a href="http://www.w3.org/Search/Mail/">Search lists archives</a> :
	<input name="keywords" type="text" size="30" maxlength="100" 
value="" />
	<input value="Search" type="submit" />
	<input value="Reset" type="reset" />

	<li><a href="http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public">Public</a></li>
<!-- end extant document source -->

why is there no LABEL defined for the edit box?  due to a lack of
either the LABEL element or the use of the "title" attribute for
the "text" input field, screen-readers identify this field simply
as "unlabeled", rather than reporting the textual label which is
currently encoded in a mono-modal format, meaning that one needs to
be able to (a) perceive the text and (b) associate the text with the
correct form field, both of which predicate the ability to perceive
visual stimuli, as well as the cognative ability to associate a
geographically proximate string of text with the correct form field.

this is not only bad design, it violates WCAG, and as one of the
public faces of W3C, the lack of accessibility-oriented markup on the
search form is inexcusable.  i have been attempting to bring this
issue to the W3C's attention for at least 5 years, both as an invited
expert to the Protocols & Formats group, and when i served as a
member of the WAI Co-Ordination group.  i have put countless hours
into reformats, conversations with your predecessors, and brought the
topic to the attention of all of the proper authorities, and, yet,
the forms on the lists site remain un-LABEL-ed.  this is not only
inexcusable, but a blatant slap in the face of the WAI, not to
mention a violation of tim berners-lee's commitment to accessibility,
interoperability, and usability.  for a glimpse at but a few of my
past attempts at addressing these exact issues with w3c staff, refer,
for example, to the contents of:

please fix the forms on the lists.w3.org site IMMEDIATELY -
preferably as follows (note the use of the "title" attribute to (a)
provide a label for those UAs/ATs that cannot process LABEL but do
process "title", and (b) make the lable programmatically available to
a user through the particular action of his or her UA, which will
most likely be expressed in the form of a tooltip on MouseOver:

<!-- begin reformat -->
<form action="http://www.w3.org/Search/Mail/Public/search" method="get">
<p><a href="http://www.w3.org/Search/Mail/"><label for="ls1"
>Search <abbr title="World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)">W3C</abbr> 
>lists archives for</label></a> :
	<input name="keywords" id="ls1" type="text" size="30" 
maxlength="100" value=""
          title="Search the W3C List Archive for" />
	<input value="Search" type="submit" />
	<input value="Reset" type="reset" />
<!-- end reformat -->

additionally, shouldn't the unordered list of mailing list types
serve as a filtering mechanism for the search form?  after all,
the unordered list already appears within the FORM container.
why are 4 filters not available as search criteria for the
visitor: 1) public lists; 2) Member-restricted lists; 3)
Team-restricted lists; and 4) all W3C lists, so that instead of
an unordered list inside the FORM container, one would be able to
filter one's top-level search, as follows:

<!-- begin second reformat sample -->
<legend>Mailing List Type</legend>
<input type="checkbox" id="ls2" name="public"
	><label for="ls2"><a href="http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public"
<input type="checkbox" id="ls3" name="member"
	><label for="ls3"><a href="http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Member"
<input type="checkbox" id="ls4" name="team"
	><label for="ls4"><a href="http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Team"
<input type="checkbox" id="ls5" name="all"><label for="ls5">All <abbr
	title="World Wide Web Consortium">W3C</abbr> lists</label></input>

<!-- end second reformat sample -->

and, where is the accesskey for the search form on the lists.w3.org
home slash front page?  is there not a w3c.org-wide accesskey
defined for all top level search text entry fields?  f or s, perhaps?
users should always be able to get to the local slash global
search form for ANY and EVERY portion of w3c.org with the same
accesskey, and again, i would suggest 'f', reserving 's' for
"skip navigation" or "skip to page content" links (i.e. links
which allow a user who experiences the web linearly or in discrete
but disassociated chuncks, to bypass navigational maps, sidebars,
etc. in order to get to the "meat" of the page (usually, an anchor
at the level 1 or level 2, depending on the structure of the page;
if 's' is used to allow the user to "skip navigation", then 'j'
can be defined for a link that allows the user to "jump to
page contents")

please reference the 3 attached xhtml files:

First Option: w3c_list_search_form.html
Second Option: w3c_list_search_form2.html
Third Option [closest to current format]: w3c_list_search_form3.html

or by accessing them via a temporary directory at my personal web
space, where the validator stylesheet is re-used:

(again, i would strongly suggest use of the
w3c_list_search_form3.html template/reformat)

i would also strongly urge you to look at:

which was a response to a non-labeled iteration of the advanced search
form for lists.w3.org - a feature which, at this writing, doesn't
seem to exist on the lists.w3.org site - which is hardly surprising,
for as it was originally marked-up, it was not only an accessibility
nightmare, but a usability nightmare, as well...  i would greatly
welcome an advanced search form for lists.w3.org along the lines
marked-up in the URI cited directly above, as the basic form is the
same as the original advanced form, only with accessibility slash
usability markup added and a slight bit of reformatting in order to
use the tools available in html/xhtml to make the form as accessible
for someone who cannot see it or whose browser cannot process
tables, as well as the general user...

thank you for your expeditious attention to this extremely serious
matter - please note that it is precisely because MANY previous
requests for increased accessibility of the w3c's lists site - all of
which included extensive reformatting, explanations, alternatives,
etc. - that i am not only sending this request to you as webmaster,
but to tim berners-lee, to whose attention i have hoped to bring this
important issue for years, as well as judy brewer, head of the web
accessibility initiative (WAI), and al gilman, the chair of the
protocols and formats working group, who has worked with me
extensively in the past when i have attempted to force the W3c to eat
its own dogfood...  in the case of the lists.w3.org site, strictest
compliance not only to the markup standards promulgated by the w3c,
but equally to the accessibility standards promulgated by the w3c is

sincerely, gregory j. rosmaita
invited expert, WAI
webmaster & minister of propaganda, Visually Impaired Computer Users' 
Group of NYC

He who lives on hope, dies farting.
-- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1763
Gregory J. Rosmaita, oedipus@hicom.net
Camera Obscura: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/
United Advocates for Talking Signs (UBATS): http://ubats.org

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Received on Thursday, 13 October 2005 14:56:40 UTC

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