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Re: Title attribute

From: Timothy Stephen Springer <timsp@ssbtechnologies.com>
Date: Thu, 17 May 2001 11:06:37 -0700
Message-ID: <3B04132D.9060906@ssbtechnologies.com>
To: Jon Hanna <jon@spinsol.com>
CC: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
A tool tip is currently exported by most GUI objects (in MFC, Swing, 
etc.) as the accessible description or textual representation for an 
object.  Thus having the title attribute override the default textual 
representation (in this case the link text) actually is the desired 
behavior.  Further utilizing the title attribute effectively can allow 
page authors to update the textual representation of an object via 
JavaScript and inform the user of an event that dynamically (client 
side) changes the content of the page.

Consider a few super useful thing you could do with title, without 
changing the way a page looks, that are tremendously helpful for 
assistive technology users:
<a href="javascript:openHelpWindow('help.html')" title="This link opens 
up a help window">Help</A>
<span onkeypress="postForm()" onmouseclick="postForm" title="Save my 
changes to the server">Save</span>
or my personal favorite for JavaScript expanding / collapsing menus:
<a href="javascript:expand(this)" title="Menu item (Collapsed)">Menu 
in the expand function we set the title attribute so that after the 
event fires we have
<a href="javascript:expand(this)" title="Menu item (Expanded)">Menu Item</A>

The visual appereance updates are now matched (via JavaScript) to the 
textual representation, as exported by the title attribute.

For comment:  We currently make extensive use of the title attribute to 
describe any events that an element triggers on the page.  This is the 
best programatic solution we (SSB) have found for explaining visual 
events (and the resulting page state changes) to non-visual users.  This 
is currently implemented in all our tools and produces the desired 
effect in the assistive technologies we have tested in (primarily 
JAWS).  Does anyone know of a better way to do this?


> Hash: SHA1
>> The W3C's site 
>> (http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/struct/global.html#adef-title )
>> says that title text may be presented by screen readers in a 
>> manner similar
>> to a tool tip, but I doubt that the intent is to exclude the link
>> text.  
>> It seems that, at least for JAWS users, the title text should be 
>> the same as
>> the text of the hyperlink, but this seems redundant.  Anyone have
>> any additional information?
> Ignoring the title attribute isn't great, but it's better than JAWS'
> approach IMHO, since the title attribute is meant to have
> "additional" information losing it is a disadvantage, but shouldn't
> be a show-stopper, whereas if you get the title in place of the link
> text you are potentially replacing crucial information with merely
> helpful "bonus" information.
> Since the title attribute may not be understandable outside of the
> context of the element it applies to this seems to be a design-flaw.
> Do any JAWS users know if this is something that can be changed
> through settings?
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Received on Thursday, 17 May 2001 14:02:52 UTC

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