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RE: 10.4 Re: Checkpoints 10.4 and 10.5

From: Phill Jenkins <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>
Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 20:10:06 -0400
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <OF3C103615.918E34F6-ON86256A5D.007F871F@raleigh.ibm.com >
Now back to the initial discussion.  When the "Checkpoint 10.4 states
  'Until user agents handle empty controls correctly,
  include default, place-holding characters in edit
  boxes and text areas.'
I believe that guidelines working group should do several things.  If I add
the word "can" in between agents and handle, as in 'Until user agents can
handle empty controls', I get a slightly different meaning and question in
my mind.  By the way, most assistive technologies can handle the control.
By "handle" I mean announce that it is a control, provide magnification
focus, and do speak the label if there is one [see other checkpoint].  The
question that has been discussed, is what should AT's do when the control
is empty. So the working group needs to:
1. Define "correctly" for the user agents/ assistive technology developers
- which in my opinion is a "usability"  issue.  But how are AT's supposed
to better handle empty controls?  They can't.  They can't do any more than
is being done; they already announce that it is a edit box, or announce
that it has 7 select menu items, or a text area.  The usability point is to
not leave them empty in some situations.  The checkpoint should be
re-worded to say something like: "Include default, context explaining text
in the input fields so that user agents can better present controls -
priority 3".  The magnifier vendors and the screen reader vendors should be
the ones to form a sub group to agree on example techniques of default text
that would lead to better usability of the presentations of the controls.
The techniques [1] currently don't address the issue.  They could start
with the simple forms that don't need place holder text, and then show more
complex examples [usually because of layout] where the context is only
available visually and where place-holder text is useful.  [see this
thread] This has to be carefully crafted and agreed to so we don't have
some vendors off supporting the title attribute and recommending it to web
authors, or others always requiring place-holder text, and still others
with some other approach.

[1] 11.5 techniques http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10-HTML-TECHS/#forms-specific

Phill Jenkins
Received on Thursday, 31 May 2001 20:10:13 UTC

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