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[Fwd: Appropriate Use of Cascading Style Sheets]

From: David Poehlman <poehlman@clark.net>
Date: Fri, 03 Mar 2000 16:22:20 -0500
Message-ID: <38C02D0C.45B9041B@clark.net>
To: wai-ig list <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

Hands-On Technolog(eye)s
voice 301-949-7599
end sig.

attached mail follows:

Hi all.  Recently I have encountered a web page that used Javascript to swap
style sheets to produce a "sliding menu" effect.  Apparently when the web
visitor clicks an arrow on the screen, the style sheet for the document is
changed for one that makes one of the "sliding menus" become visible.
Clicking the arrow again makes the menu go away.  They tell me sighted users
like the effect very well.  It permits having a very streamlined page on
which one can click an arrow for a particular group of options and have this
group appear.  I think the sliding menus are sort of analogous with
comboboxes on a web form.  Anyway, when the menus aren't visible, they're
still on the screen, and my screen reader sees them just fine.  This means
that, while sighted users see a very streamlined page, I see *everything*,
as if all of the menus were open at the same time.  Then, too, in Internet
Explorer, if I set things up to override colors specified on web pages, then
the menus superimpose themselves on the page and make a visual mess on the

I'd like to know if others on this list have run into this technique of
"layering", as they like to call it, and do you see it as an accessibility
concern? On one hand, I have to admit that I'm not being hindered from
getting at any of the options on the page since everything's there all the
time as far as JFW is concerned.  On the other hand, I wonder if the fact
overriding page colors can make a mess on the screen would be an
accessibility concern for a sighted user who might want a particular color
combination for improved contrast or whatever.  I broached this subject with
the author of the page, and I was told, "But we use colors to provide
emphasis and for other informational purposes.  They shouldn't be overriding
our colors." That's as may be, but would this trick with the style sheets
count as misuse of style sheets to change content rather than just to change
page style?

I'm just curious what you all think, especially those who may be more
familiar with the latest in HTML as I am not.  The options in web design
keep increasing, and it's hard to come up with clear-cut definitions of
good, accessible web design and otherwise.

Jerry Weichbrodt
Received on Friday, 3 March 2000 16:22:27 UTC

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