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[TECHS] Tests #138, #139, #140, #141, #142 - tabindex on input elements

From: <Becky_Gibson@notesdev.ibm.com>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2005 12:08:55 -0500
To: "WAI WCAG List" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <OFF6C1FD25.00E3EB4F-ON85256FA2.0059A48E-85256FA2.005E7B6B@notesdev.ibm.com>
Members of the Techniques task force have been assigned a number of tests 
to review and comment on to the list.   Here is my review of some of my 
assigned tests. 

Test numbers #138, #139, #140, #141, #142 listed below  require that any 
input element must have a tabindex.  I propose that we remove these tests 
since a specific tab order is NOT required in order to pass the WCAG 2.0 
Guidelines.  The tests are associated with Guideline 2.4, Provide 
mechanisms to help users find content, orient themselves within it, and 
navigate through it.  But, default navigation is provided by  UAAG 
Guideline 9. Provide navigation mechanisms [1].  Specifically Priority 1 
checkpoint 9.3,  Move Content Focus [2],  deals with sequential navigation 
to form controls and other enabled elements. 

Content authors should not be required to add a tabindex to input elements 
as long as the default tab order is sufficient. There are actually 
problems with adding a tabindex - once it is added to one element it often 
needs to be added to all focusable elements (including links) in order to 
keep the tab order logical.  In my experience, an element with a specific 
tabindex is always put in the tab order before elements that do not have a 
tabindex attribute set but are part of the default tab order.  Thus, if I 
have a page with two links followed by a form with two input fields, if I 
put a tabindex attribute on the input fields, they will be put into the 
tab order before the links. This may not be what is desired for logical 
navigation through the page. 

Since sequential navigation is covered by UAAG, the tabindex attribute is 
NOT required to meet Guideline 2.4 and I think these tests should be 
removed.  There is an HTML technique that discusses tab order [3] but it 
also has an editorial note that indicates that the technique needs to be 
updated to describe that, "it is often preferable to keep the default tab 

I am not in favor of making this an optional test because of the 
possibility of creating confusion surrounding default tab order. But, if 
the group is in favor of making these tests optional, I would propose that 
they be associated with Guideline 2.4 Level 3 success criterion #2 When a 
page or other delivery unit is navigated sequentially, elements receive 
focus in an order that follows relationships and sequences in the content 
[4] (although the HTML tab order technique is associated with level 3 #1). 
 Currently the tests are listed as corresponding to a level 2 requirement. 

INPUT element, TYPE of "text", must have a tab index. [
INPUT element, TYPE of "radio", must have a tab index. [
INPUT element, TYPE of "password", must have a tab index. [
INPUT element, TYPE of "checkbox", must have a tab index. [
INPUT element, TYPE of "file", must have a tab index. [

[3] http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20-HTML-TECHS/#form_tabindex

Becky Gibson
Web Accessibility Architect
IBM Emerging Internet Technologies
5 Technology Park Drive
Westford, MA 01886
Voice: 978 399-6101; t/l 333-6101
Email: gibsonb@us.ibm.com
Received on Tuesday, 8 February 2005 17:09:31 UTC

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