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Re: A few thoughts on using dynamic web pages to improve accessibility

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 1999 15:12:53 -0500 (EST)
To: Scott Luebking <phoenixl@netcom.com>
cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.20.9911101506270.28652-100000@tux.w3.org>
Scott,

I agree absolutely that it is possible in principle to have accesible dynamic
pages. It is possible to do some things in practice, too. Currently there
area numbe of problems to be solved:

1. The HTML 4.0 event model assumes a mouse and keyboard interface, which is
a long way from optimal. Work on fixing that is currently taking place, most
particularly in the DOM but also in other groups.

2. User Agents need to be able to cope with dynaimc content. Some do, some
don't. One of the problems is letting the user know that there has been a
change, while making sure taht they don't have to stop and listen to the page
again every two seconds.

3. We need to do some work on how this happens in practies.

4. There is still a need to support legacy systems which do not have
client-side facility for much in the way of dynamic content.

All these things are being dealt with, and we are working towards some useful
knowledge. At the same time, the possibility of dynamic content allows the
possiblity of creating dynamic widgeets on the client side, for example to
let the user know that there is form content after the submit button.

Cheers

Charles McCN

On Wed, 10 Nov 1999, Scott Luebking wrote:

  Hi,
  
  Blind people and sighted people may work with web pages in very different ways
  from each other.  Some of these differences are:
  
    1.  Both sighted and blind people need to get a sense of context from
        each page.  A sighted person can quickly scan to see what the page
        is about.  A blind person has to more grope through the page
        to get a sense of what is there in order to get a better understanding
        of the context.  This approach is slow and cumbersome.  Also,
        a blind person may jump to a conclusion to early.  What would
        be helpful is being able to hit a key and a summary of the page
        appears in a pop-up box.
  
    2.  Sighted people need more layout to understand the information.
        Usually, this is done with tables.  However, tables can be
        create confusion for blind people.  A more linear form is often
        preferable for blind users.
  
    3.  Searching in a web page is much slower for blind people than sighted.
        If the page is new, knowing what to search for is harder.
        The page should be designed to help minimize the need to search.
  
    4.  Jumping back and forth on a page is much easier for sighted people
        than blind people.  The page should be structured to minimize
        the need for that.
  
    5.  If the access keys are being used, blind users can benefit from
        being able to hit a key and have a pop-up box describing
        what special keys are available.
  
    6.  While sighted people can quickly skip over links at the top of
        a page, it is harder for blind people to do that.  An alternative
        design would be to put groups of links at the bottom and have
        keys which will scroll the page to the desired group of links.
  
    7.  Sighted people can often find links more easily than blind.
        If a page has some very popular links, it might be easier for blind
        users to have keys activate the popyular links to reduce the
        time searching.
  
    8.  It is often easier for sighted people to find forms on a
        page than blind people.  Blind users can benefit from having keys
        which will automatically scroll the page to a particular form.
  
    9.  Sighted people can often find the end of the form by some
        visual cuing.  Blind people often assume that encountering
        a submit button is the end of the form.  This can be in error
        if there is more than one submit button or if there are more
        form elements after the submit button.  Blind users can benefit
        from clear indication about the end of the form being reached.
  
    10.  A sighted person can quickly skip over a group of radio
         buttons or identify which radio button is selected.
         A blind person often prefers a drop-down selection list.
         It is easier to skip over and the user can quickly identify
         what the current choice is.
  
  
  Currently, many web designers don't know how to design accessible static
  web pages.  The general assumption is that they can be trained.  If they
  can be trained for designing static pages for accessibility, why can't
  they be trained in designing dynamic web pages for accessibility.
  
  I believe that with the correct flexible software architecture for creating
  dynamic web pages, a version of each page can be created to more closely meet
  the needs of each of a number of disabilities.
  
  My concern for accessibility is not only can a blind person do something, but
  also how fast/efficient they are at doing it.
  
  Scott
  

--Charles McCathieNevile            mailto:charles@w3.org
phone: +1 617 258 0992   http://www.w3.org/People/Charles
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative    http://www.w3.org/WAI
MIT/LCS  -  545 Technology sq., Cambridge MA, 02139,  USA
Received on Wednesday, 10 November 1999 15:14:01 GMT

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