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RE: verifying accessibility

From: Dave J Woolley <DJW@bts.co.uk>
Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2000 19:20:10 +0100
Message-ID: <81E4A2BC03CED111845100104B62AFB5824822@stagecoach.bts.co.uk>
To: "'w3c-wai-ig@w3.org'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
> From:	Kynn Bartlett [SMTP:kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com]
> 
> In "real life", people don't see underscores as something that will
> take them somewhere else.  On my DVD player, I don't have underlines
> telling me which of the words on the screen will take me to the
> cut scenes.  But I'm still able to figure out how to get there.
> 
	[DJW:]  I don't have a DVD player to compare notes
	with, but if the user interface is generated by the
	player, it is always the same, and if it is part of the
	software, the film studios will adopt some fairly rigid 
	conventions.

	If you take basic home entertainment stuff, what is
	a buttonn is usually pretty obvious from the mechanics
	of it, or a frame round it, and there are established
	symbols for stop, play, etc.   Even then, most people
	can't program VCRs.

	With many, graphics based, commercial web pages, I have
	to play hunt the button, even though I think I'm quite bright.
	Even with tool bars on Windows, I end up relying on hovering
	to get tool tips, because there is no standard lexicon of symbols
	much beyond "save".

	Even without heavy graphics on web pages, I rely on
	having learned lots of different idioms used by web designers
	to hide links.  Having some standard convention for links
	for the browser means you can tell someone who is not computer
	literate to look out for that convention.

	Once you allow the content provider to control presentation,
	it becomes difficult to personalise the convention to the
	browser or user, as the content provider can mimic any convention
	that you use.

	I think people here are underestimating how difficult it is
	for the average person to understand the conventions involved
	even with software that religiously follows the Windows user
	interface guidelines.  Unless you are using computers on a regular
	basis and feel confident with them, even "user friendly" interfaces
	can be very difficult (even driving a mouse takes training in hand
	eye coordination, for reasonably intelligent and able bodied
people).

	I think, if you actually try to count the number of different idioms
	that you rely on knowing, you might be surprised.

	I just happen to have the page in the Farnell catalogue open (see
end)
	open (computer stationery catalogue).  Whilst this page is quite
	cleanly laid out, one needs to recognize:

	- tabbed dialogue style menu (black, not underlined)
	- vertical bar style menu (white, not underlined)
	- basket icon
	- logo as link to home page
	- underlined order code (black with mouseover), no tool tip,
	  for product details - why not, for example, the description
	- input type=image, with the word "Add" on a small blue
	  background (alt text, used as tool tip, not alt text) is the
	  order this item button
	- uderlined black hyphenated number pairs at the bottom are links to
	  other pages in the results set (I had to think about this one -
was
	  it really the price break ranges)
	- blue right pointing triangle at bottom is go up in hierarchy
	  (tool tips and alts quite well).

	This is not aimed at a computer illiterate audience, but it does
	illustrate the number of conventions one needs to know to handle
just
	one random page.   If anything I'd expect most consumer oriented 
	catalogue pages to be more difficult.   The only sense in which
	these are not aimed at computer illeterate audiences is in as
	much as those audiences are not expected to be able to afford
	the product.

	Note that, nowadays, disabling presentational features in the
	browser is likely to break many popular sites, so doing so in
	order to get a consistent presentation of specific constructs 
	really doesn't work.

	To get to the page mentioned (its in a frameset, and the
	description includes the frame border), start at:
	http://www.farnell.co.uk/Search/search-frame1.jhtml?CATID1=23
	and select "Office consumables", "Stationery", "Other 
	Stationery".  A deep link to the content frame is:
	
http://www.farnell.co.uk/Search/level_4.jhtml?CATID1=23&CATID2=1021&CATID3=1
024&CATID4=1024&START=1&COUNT=25
>  
Received on Wednesday, 19 July 2000 14:27:38 GMT

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