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HTML Techniques: 'tabindex'

From: Jens Meiert <jens.meiert@erde3.com>
Date: Sun, 9 Nov 2003 14:38:13 +0100 (MET)
To: "W3C WAI" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <23738.1068385093@www4.gmx.net>

Before shooting first I want to ask what purpose the 'tabindex' handling
recommendation has, referring to the 'HTML Techniques for WCAG 2.0' [1]. In 9.5
[2] it is recommended, not to use the 'tabindex' attribute to leap e.g. a set
of navigation links, but in another case (see 14.1 [3]) it is illustrated to
use 'tabindex' to change the (tab) order of form elements, what I perceive
as questionable (and per se contradictory), not only in relation to 9.5.

Can anyone of you please explain this to me? -- Normally I'd think it should
be recommended just the other way around, thus allowing to jump over e.g.
navigation links (because there should also be alternative <link /> elements to
represent a site's structure, btw), but not recommending to violently change
the order of form elements (where I only see the risk to irritate users).

So I wonder (from Usability perspective, too), what sense the 'form case'
(and its example from 14.1) makes:

   <form action="#" method="post">
         <input tabindex="2" type="text" name="field1" />
         <input tabindex="1" type="text" name="field2" />
         <input tabindex="3" type="submit" name="submit" />

If I imagine 'field1' represents a user's email address (which is displayed
first), ain't it 'curious' being at first asked for my name (as e.g. expected
in 'field2'), when starting to access the form via pressing 'tab'? On the
other hand I often encountered cases where I really wished there was a tab
order allowing me to jump over a site's navigation. But, I didn't want to shoot
first... ;)

All the best,

[1] http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WCAG20/WD-WCAG20-HTML-TECHS/
[3] http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WCAG20/WD-WCAG20-HTML-TECHS/#form_tabindex

Jens Meiert
Interface Architect

Received on Sunday, 9 November 2003 08:38:15 UTC

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