W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > October to December 2001

RE: Fw: putting reader text in hidden <div> tags / adding pauses

From: DAN BILLINGSLEY <dhsrsfg@dhs.state.il.us>
Date: Thu, 06 Dec 2001 09:33:34 -0600
Message-Id: <sc0f3b93.026@mail.dhs.state.il.us>
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
I think Mike has a great point.  If screen readers do not read hidden
text they will be missing most of the content on a web sites with dhtml
menus.  If you are unable to navigate a site with a screen reader or the
keyboard, you might as well not include all the subpages on a site.

Any content on a web page that was not meant to be viewed or read,
should be excluded before the page gets served to the browser!  Any
variables should be passed via form or appended to the end of the URL. 
Content can be changed dynamically on the server, to parse accessible
code.  Using display and hidden for the purpose of completely hiding
content form the user is a misuse of the style.

Dan Billingsley

>>> "Mike Scott" <mscott@msfw.com> 12/03/01 17:12 PM >>>
> There is a design debate about ... hiding the "Skip navigation" link.
... But the
> reason we recommend the "current work around" [alt text on invisible
images] is
> because it works! And it has to when CSS it turned off! Visibility:
hidden wouldn't
> work with CSS off.

It doesn't "not work" without CSS, the skip navigation link simply
becomes visible, it is still functional (i.e. "graceful

Additionally, the invisible image workaround ignores all the sighted
users who use only the keyboard. (It's nearly as tedious to tab through
a long list of links as it is to listen through it.) Wouldn't a better
solution be to use hidden (but spoken) text that could also be
dynamically displayed using the onfocus event? (Although I suppose you
could do that with images as well.)

> By honoring the visibility properties affected by JavaScript, the
> page can be made directly accessible and - more importantly - usable.
> For example, web applications "hide" content when it is not pertinent
> to the user's profile.  Blind users should not be forced to read all
> the hidden content, usually out of order and context,  when the
sighted users
> doesn't have to.

This seems to be a case that would not work with CSS off (assuming that
there really is so much hidden content that the page would be unusable
with it shown/read.)

It's not hard to find real-world examples that support both arguments --
that text hidden using visibility should be read or should not be read
by screen readers. We really need some concensus on what the
specs/guideline say if we can expect web developers (or user agent
developers) to know how to handle this issue.
Received on Thursday, 6 December 2001 10:35:18 UTC

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