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Re: Is this a good hack?

From: <jukka.korpela@tieke.fi>
Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 08:44:40 +0200
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <OFAD1B9072.8BDB90EA-ONC2256B6C.0022E674@tieke.fi>

Seth Rothberg wrote:

> I've spent the morning playing with a part of a web page
> that contains a  bunch of what I call news tidbits. Visually,
> it's easy to distinguish between the items.

Which markup did you use? <div>...</div> around each tidbit, or
<br> between them, or something else? If you use <div> or <br>,
then there will be line breaks in visual presentation, of course
(except that I recently heard that an old version of Lynx failed
to do that for <div>!). It is debatable how line breaks indicated
in markup should be handled in non-visual presentation and whether
<div> should be handled differently from <br>. I'd say that
a) user agents should assume that such line breaks may be essential,
and should make short pauses accordingly; for example, they might
even correspond to the verse structure of a poem!
b) authors should avoid assuming that user agents do the above;
authors should try to find better, more structural approaches.

> But when I listened to them in Home Page Reader, they all just
> seemed to run together.

So you probably used <br> or <div>? From my experience with Home Page
Reader, that program, which has many excellent features in other respects,
often runs things together - maybe even if you use <ul> and <li> without
punctuation at the end of each item? Let's hope it gets improved.

But wouldn't <p> markup be more suitable for your purposes? The tidbits are
small paragraphs, aren't they? Using <p> would make HPR read the text well,
and it would not be just a workaround but a genuine solution. Moreover, HPR
lets (if I remember correctly) the user to skip the rest of a paragraph
with some simple keyboard command, and such "skippability" is very useful
and something that good user agents can be expected to support generally.
It is less obvious that a user agent should support skipping to the next
<br> or to the end of the current <div>.

Naturally, you could then use some CSS to style the paragraphs in visual
presentation as desired.

> So what I did was to turn the set of tidbits into an ordered list and
> then turned off the visual display of numerals.

An interesting idea! It is more common (though not very common) to use
unordered list (<ul>) and turn off the visual display of bullets. Using
<ol> is probably better when HPR is used: it reads <ol> much more clearly
as a list than <ul>.

> What's interesting to me is that Home Page Reader still enumerates the
> list items.

Which is actually part of the solution! Well, workaround. If you had used
<ul>, it might have read the items without noticeable pauses between them,
except as caused by punctuation in the text. (Disclaimer: HPR may have
changed since I last used it.) Thus, reading the numbers compensates for
this deficiency.

But the problem is avoided if <p> is used.

Jukka K. Korpela, erityisasiantuntija / senior adviser
TIEKE Tietoyhteiskunnan kehittämiskeskus ry
Finnish Information Society Development Centre
Salomonkatu 17 A, 10th floor, FIN-00100 HELSINKI, FINLAND
Phone: +358 9 4763 0397 Fax: +358 9 4763 0399
http://www.tieke.fi  jukka.korpela@tieke.fi
Received on Tuesday, 26 February 2002 01:46:55 GMT

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