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Links lists, tabbing through links, and user agents (was [#832] Clear link text - priority and acceptability of supplemental text)

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 2004 08:45:41 -0500
Message-ID: <C46A1118E0262B47BD5C202DA2490D1A03317D74@MAIL02.austin.utexas.edu>
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Joe Clark has asserted [1] that the links list is a "proprietary"
feature of the JAWS screen reader, and therefore should not factor into
the Working Group's consideration of requirements for link text.
Joe's assertion is incorrect as it applies to current user agents.
. Opera 7.x includes a links list:
Opera 7 includes a new, easier way to navigate pages. The Hotlist now
includes a Links panel by default. In the panel, all the links in the
current page
are listed, with icons for common types like images and movies. Links
can then be easily selected for quick navigation or download. In
addition, a page's
panel can be 'locked' to keep its particular link list available when
users move over to other pages, making it possible to click the page's
links when
on a completely other part of the Web.
Opera's "spatial navigation" feature also allows users to move from link
to link by using the shift and arrow keys.
John Gunderson's group at the University of Illinois has produced
toolbars for both IE and Netscape that provide links lists, header
lists, frames lists, and form controls lists as well as lists of all
images on the page. These toolbars are intended to make these features
available to users without disabilities; everyone to whom I've shown
them loves the idea of being able to pull up a list of links.
Mozilla includes a feature called "type-ahead find," which is described
as follows in the "Mozilla Starter Guide":
<blockquote cite="http://www.perturb.org/mozilla-starter/">
... your fingers can rest comfortably on the keyboard to navigate pages.
If you are on a webpage simply begin typing the letters of any link on
that page. You should see a green selection of the word as you type it.
Mozilla will match the letters as you type them. Once you have selected
the right link press enter to visit that link. If multiple links match
what you have typed pressing ctrl + g will toggle between the various
matches. Couple that with the tab key on your keyboard to navigate links
on the page ...
As for tabbing from link to link, IE, Mozilla, and Opera all support
this-- it is part of the standard interface, not a special feature
available only through assistive technologies.  For sighted users who
must (or who choose to) use the keyboard, the context in which an
embedded link appears is available visually as the user tabs down the
page. For people using screen magnifiers, however, that surrounding
context is probably *not* available, especially at higher levels of
magnification; for people using screen readers, the surrounding context
is not available in auditory form while tabbing. 
In my view, this is a significant difference in the quality of the user
experience and has a differential impact on users with limited or no
vision who rely on assistive technology. That makes it an accessibility
problem, not just a usability problem, and therefore very much within
our purview.

"Good design is accessible design." 
John Slatin, Ph.D.
Director, Accessibility Institute
University of Texas at Austin
FAC 248C
1 University Station G9600
Austin, TX 78712
ph 512-495-4288, f 512-495-4524
email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu
web http://www.utexas.edu/research/accessibility/


Received on Wednesday, 23 June 2004 09:45:49 UTC

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