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Re: OnChange in dropdown combo box used for navigation

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2001 02:33:24 -0500 (EST)
To: David Poehlman <poehlman1@home.com>
cc: "STELZER,MELINDA (Non-HP-PaloAlto,ex1)" <melinda_stelzer@non.hp.com>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0112190223120.3937-100000@tux.w3.org>
In fact the combo box can be used by browsers that support javascript but
there are a lot of user that get confused until they learn how to use IE
(which, in my opinion as in Al's, has an unhelpful implementation if not a
bug, and should be fixed). In addition there are a lot of users who do not
support javascript.

So it depends on how important usability is to you. In order not to confuse
people or give them the (mistaken) impression that there is something wrong
with your site (for some reason people seem reluctant to blame tools or their
own lack of knowledge about those tool) I would recommend avoiding the
javascript. If you think most of your users know a bit about how their tools
work, or are happy to force some to learn, you might like to stick with the
javascript where enabled.

Anyway, if you do want to stick with the javascript and prefer not to have a
go button, the code I suggest you use is the following...

<form method="get" action="http://example.org/doit">

<select name="themenu" onchange="theFancyFunction()">
<option selected="selected" value="none">no choice</option>
<option value="1">one</option>

<!-- the following three lines are the important bit, along with having the
functionality available on your server -->
  <input type="submit" value="Make it so" />

(partially based on the fact that if users are going to reconfigure options
like turning off javascript they obviously care about what and how they are
getting more than what the designer thought the "standard" version would be
like, so you might as well make sure they can keep on being your customer.


Charles McCN

On Tue, 18 Dec 2001, David Poehlman wrote:

  consider that jaws would work with this and one other might work with
  this.  Now ask, if I can find a way that provides accesss to a wider
  audience than just these two that does no harm, would I want to follow
  it?  I ask then, does having a combo box with a go button do any harm?
  To answer your question, some older versions of jaws which are out there
  in abundance do not handle this well at all.  I don't know how lynx
  handles it but do know that there are choice boxes that lynx does
  handle.  I am not trying to pick on you but I have seen a prolifferation
  of those fancy combo boxes in ever increasing numbers and I think I even
  understand why <one click after a drag> they are used but it seems to me
  that it isn't really that much harder <click click click> perhaps to
  implement the static one.  I'm glad you asked the question.  I find that
  the one with the go button is much easier to use for most people I know
  who can use either and that there are still many who cannot use the
  other one.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: "STELZER,MELINDA (Non-HP-PaloAlto,ex1)"
  To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
  Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2001 4:42 PM
  Subject: OnChange in dropdown combo box used for navigation

  I was reading the discussion below concerning two different ways of
  pages that use a dropdown, or "combo box" control as a navigation tool.
  one method, the user must press the form button to cause the browser to
  to the new destination, and in the other method, the "OnChange"
  event causes the choice to take effect as soon as the selection is made.

  I am trying to assess whether using the OnChange event to activate
  navigation controls is accessible or not.  According to Charles, Jaws
  often have problems with it.

  There is a work around: pressing "ALT-DownArrow" will produce the effect
  pressing the mouse button and holding it, and allow the user to
  browse the dropdown with the arrow keys, without activating the OnChange
  event.  Freedom Scientific says their users generally know this
  Is it true?

  Do other assistive tools have problems with the OnChange method of
  activating dropdown navigation?

  -----Original Message-----
  From: Charles McCathieNevile [mailto:charles@w3.org]
  Sent: Sunday, December 09, 2001 7:19 AM
  To: David Woolley
  Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org; cturne@essex.ac.uk
  Subject: Re: Fw: [webwatch] Fw: [htmldesigners] What's the difference

  Yes, what happens for a mouse user is that they click on the box
  in explorer to alt-down arrow) and then scroll up und down the list
  they have selected the item tehy want, at which point they release.

  Usually there is no visual difference - the following button is often
  provided, but a javascript frees the user from having to click it.

  I think that the problem is not with HTML, but with browsers that force
  onChange event to be fired when you try to select with the arrow keys,
  instead of waiting for you to move out of the combobox before
  whether you have changed the selected item.

  I don't know how many browsers have this problem, although I have noted
  a common experience for users of Jaws with IE.


  Charles McCN

  On Sun, 9 Dec 2001, David Woolley wrote:

    > > kind of comboboxes which only activate when you press some button
    > after
    > > them, as opposed to the ones which activate as soon as you press
    > cursor
    > > down.  I mean what would a mouse-user do with these different
  kinds of

    This sounds like a case of Document Object Model (popularly called
    JavaScript) onchange events being used.  The change wouldn't be
    recognized until the mouse button was released.  It's not an HTML
    problem, but a designer problem (designing only for clicking with a

    Plain HTML will not do this.

  Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61
  134 136
  W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI    fax: +1
  258 5999
  Location: 21 Mitchell street FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia
  (or W3C INRIA, Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex,

Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI    fax: +1 617 258 5999
Location: 21 Mitchell street FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia
(or W3C INRIA, Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France)
Received on Wednesday, 19 December 2001 02:33:27 UTC

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