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RE: [w3c-wai-ig] :hover OK instead of blue underline (was: <no su bject at all>)

From: Jukka Korpela <jukka.korpela@tieke.fi>
Date: Fri, 1 Nov 2002 09:47:41 +0200
Message-ID: <621574AE86FAD3118D1D0000E22138A95BDF27@TIEKE1>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

David Woolley wrote:

> He's just told you that he thinks it is inaccessible to
> people with poor, or no, control of their hands.

Maybe, but I don't think that's the point. The webmaster reportedly said
(when the terminology is corrected as you pointed out) that he is using the
:hover pseudo-class in CSS to get the menus to change colors during
selection process and that he the drawback is that the underscoring
disappears on regular text until the mouse appears over it. The first part
is fairly normal and actually corresponds to typical default behavior on
most of the modern graphic browsers; CSS may be used to affect what the
specific colors are, and this may have some impact on accessibility (if the
colors are chosen poorly - black on darkish blue isn't a particular good
scheme). The second part sounds very obscure. How would a CSS rule for
a:hover affect _regular text_?

> Looking for blue underlined text
> (given their instructor knows that their browser defaults that way)
> doesn't use up that much space, but the only realistic alternative to
> listing all the conventions for menu bars, etc., is to tell 
> them to wave the mouse around watching the status line - not I think
> something that will encourage them to use the web, - -.

I agree with the principle that links should look links, whatever that means
in each particular browser, but taken to the extreme this would imply that
an author couldn't say much about any presentational issue, since _anything_
might conflict with some user agents' defaults. You couldn't even suggest
background and text color, since either of them might clash with some link
color. So I guess the realistic approach is to say that if you do something
with colors, you should use a color scheme which is not too far from the
common defaults for link colors: blue for unvisited, purple for visited, red
for active links.

I don't think there's much about this issue in WAI recommendations, and I'm
afraid it would be difficult to set up guidelines, partly due to the
complexity of the matter, partly due to differing views. However I would say
that some (possibly conditional) recommendation against the popular trend to
set unvisited and visited links the same color should be given. What
category would that be in WAI guidelines? Hard to tell. Maybe guideline 3 in
the WCAG 2.0 draft ( http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/ ), and maybe specifically
Checkpoint 3.5 "Provide consistent and predictable responses to user
actions" there; the draft mentions here as an "additional idea" that
"conventions likely to be familiar to the user should be followed".

But as regards to the site mentioned in the original question, I think the
essential accessibility improvement would be to simplify the navigational
menu. It's unnecessarily duplicated: it appears in one appearance at the
start and in another appearance at the end of the page. This is confusing
even visually, and in speech presentation, it's difficult to keep track of
the situation: am I hearing _exactly_ the same links as at the beginning?
Putting the links at the end only would remove any necessity of providing a
"skip navigation" link. And using just one menu would surely give enough
room to use normal text size (or even a little larger!) for the navigational

Jukka Korpela, senior adviser 
TIEKE Finnish Information Society Development Centre
Diffuse Business Guide to Web Accessibility and Design for All:
Received on Friday, 1 November 2002 02:48:15 UTC

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