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Re: What is Recommended Practice for "Option Lists"?

From: Chris Kreussling <CHRIS.KREUSSLING@ny.frb.org>
Date: Fri, 05 Mar 1999 15:43:39 -0500
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-id: <s6dffc68.009@ny.frb.org>
I've tried both the [Alt]+[Down Arrow] and the [F4] suggestions on my own form, Windows+Netscape, both with and without JavaScript. They both seem to do the same as clicking the button next to the selection field: "drop down" the list of options, making more of them visible. Repeating the keystroke simply "drops-up" the list back to its original, hidden state. Neither provide navigation through the options in the list.

There still seems to be several problems, at least one of which is a design/author issue:

1) What's the non-visual equivalent of "dropping down" the list to make more of the options apparent? How can a non-visual user navigate/scroll through the list without making a selection? How can they even know the "dropped-down" state of the list? A user-agent/platform issue.

2) When the list is dropped down, there still seems to be no way without a mouse on the scroll bar to navigate or scroll through the list without selecting each option in turn. For the user who can see the list but is not using a mouse, how can they navigate/scroll through the list without selecting? A user-agent/platform issue.

3) If the selection list has no option currently selected, simply moving focus to the selection list automatically selects the first/default option in the list, triggering the onChange behavior. This can/must be remedied by design: the first/default option could be pre-selected, and/or it can (should?) contain prompt text to tell the user what's expected, and/or the onChange action can ignore a "change" to the first/default option. Any one of these would prevent this problem.

For that matter, why-oh-why does the IRS site provide a [Submit] button which is rendered useless by the onChange behavior?! It's easy enough to wrap the button in a <NOSCRIPT> block so it only shows up when JavaScript is disabled.

4) F4 and alt-down are Windows-only and platform-specific. There may or may not be equivalent keyboard shortcuts. Any Web page/applicatoin author can only refer the user to their browser's documentation. Again, user-agent/platform issue.

<author>Chris Kreussling</author>
<disclaimer>The views expressed are 
those of the author and do not necessarily 
reflect the position of the Federal Reserve 
Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve 
System.</disclaimer>

>>> <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org> 03/05 2:18 PM >>>
At 11:01 AM 3/5/99 , Alan Cantor wrote:
>Patrick,
>
>In Windows, the intuitive, easy-to-remember, universally-known hot key to
>drop a combo box list is F4. It seems unlikely that this key will work in
>the context you describe,  ...

Yes indeed. F4 also works. Whata ya know? Amazing!

Patrick 
Received on Friday, 5 March 1999 15:47:43 GMT

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