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Re: Twisties re notes/domino

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@access.digex.net>
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 1998 10:02:01 -0400 (EDT)
Message-Id: <199808101402.KAA13701@access2.digex.net>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Cc: w3c-wai-cg@w3.org
[follow-up to discussion of the Lotus Notes/Domino implementation
of expanding lists with inscrutable "+/-" link text on twisties.]

The existing rule about "use meaningful link text" explains why
using plus and minus as the link text for twisties does not work
for screen reader users.  But it does not really tell you what to
do about it because a long substitution would get tedious even in
speech.  We probably need to step back and see what the twisties
are doing for us to understand the problem.
  
Twisties are used as controls inside what we might call
"accordion lists" by analogy to "accordion file" containers for
information on paper.  These are list structures similar to a
table of contents that the user interface lets you fold and
expand on a section by section basis.  Users of MacOS since
version 7 and Microsoft Windows since Windows 95 will be familiar
with this in the file system interface.

The problem is that the visual user can see where the un-changed
parts of the list come back in the adjusted list presentation.
It is not similarly easy to perceive the structure in terms of
changed and unchanged segments in audio, so far as I know.

Accordion lists are visual context-savers for exploring
hierarchical information structures.  I might even say that
accordion lists are a best current practice for this function.
If there is a comparable best current practice for saving context
inside a hierarchical domain, in the context of an audio user
interface, I don't know what it is.

What to do about it?  This could easily get technical enough and
voluble enough to be worth moving off the general interest list.

There are several groups that are potentially affected: User
Agent, Page Author, Authoring Tools, Protocols and Formats.
Maybe we should try an ad-hoc action team.

If people will volunteer to work on how to make accordion lists
accessible, then we can move the discussion off the Interest
Group list.  The WAI Coordination Group <w3c-wai-cg@w3.org> can
worry about what sort of a coordination process will keep the
interested groups tuned in.

Al Gilman

PS:

HTML 4 already has the functionality suggested as LABELFOR for
form controls, but not for general links.

The usability concerns are the same whether the interface
behavior is done with Javascript or CGI.
Received on Monday, 10 August 1998 10:00:51 GMT

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