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Re: auto set focus and accessibility

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Tue, 06 Aug 2002 14:53:13 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: Lisa Seeman <seeman@netvision.net.il>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

At 01:51 PM 2002-08-06, Lisa Seeman wrote:
>I came across something new as I was Jaws browsing along, and that is the auto focused of the page had been set to a text box mid way down the page (you can see it at <http://www.Amazon.com/exec/obidos/subst/home/home.html/002-5628707-8901611>http://www.Amazon.com/exec/obidos/subst/home/home.html/002-5628707-8901611)
>this made the screen reader start from the text box and miss the info above it. 
>It stumped me how they had managed to do this, but then I found in their code
>That did it.
>Did I miss this in WCAG ?  it seems an accessibility issue.

You would have missed it in the WCAG because mostly all the WCAG says about 
behavior is that it should be accessible.

The UAAG is the place where the question of what constitutes accessible
behavior is taken up in more depth.

The approach that is taken in the UAAG is not that the page should not pre-set
the focus to an internal location but that the browser should advise the
screen reader when the focus is so moved.  The screen reader is supposed to know whether this is something that its users need to be advised of.  If this
scenario is followed, Jaws will alert the user that the focus is in the middle
of the page.

In the future we may be able to get something into the scripting interface where moving the focus can be intercepted by the assistive technology and inhibited or
forced to go through a confirm step.  One may even be able to do this today if 
the AT injects a capturing listener at the root.  I don't recall getting a clear
answer on that.  Then we get into stacking order problems like the screen driver issues.  

But for now what we have asked for is an
event that tells the AT the focus has moved and the AT can inspect where it is
and alert the user to the fact that if they want to start at the top they have to move there first.

>It also may be an issue for the DOM object model - allowing a script to move and control the focus and bounce you around the page without your knowledge.

Yes this is something for us to work on, but we won't get the first thing we think
of implemented right away.


>All the best,
>Lisa Seeman
>UnBounded Access
>Widen the World Web
Received on Tuesday, 6 August 2002 15:58:57 UTC

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