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Why Skip Navigation Links are a Hack

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2003 16:16:02 -0700
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-Id: <FFEAB814-9DF4-11D7-AEE2-000393D9E692@idyllmtn.com>

Hi everyone.

Skip Navigation links are there to compensate for a deficiency in HTML.

Namely, there's no good way to designate "sections" of a page which  
can't
be navigated through easily.  The browser can't figure out which is  
which,
and so needs help from the author.

This is why, if you're serving HTML 4.01 (or XHTML 1.0), you need to  
provide
that functionality which is otherwise not easily derived from the markup
by the browser.

In XHTML 2.0, this problem may be solved, at least if the ideas in the
current version of the XHTML 2.0 draft are followed through.  The  
<section>
element [1] allows you to designate sections of the document as  
comprising a
logical section.  This section can be labeled by the <h> [2] element, a
replacement for the <h1> through <h6> tags which is context-based, not
explicitly specified as the existing tags.

What's more, the proposed XHTML 2.0 draft introduces the new navigation  
list
element, <nl> [3].  Navigation lists are similar to <ol> and <ul>  
lists, in
that they consist of <li> list items, but they explicitly used for  
navigation
structures.  Navigation lists are labeled with the <label> [4] element.

By making both content section structure and navigation functionality
explicit in the markup, XHTML 2.0 does a great service for  
accessibility:
An XHTML 2.0-aware browser is able to generate its own structured  
outline
of the document, allow skipping to the next section, and allow automatic
skipping of navigation lists.

This is a great step forward in patching one of the glaring holes in the
HTML language which has made it an obstacle to Web accessibility  
(requiring
the use of nasty hacks like "skip navigation").  If you agree, you could
write to the W3C's XHTML Working Group [5] and thank them, or maybe read
over the whole draft [6] and provide feedback.

--Kynn

[1]  
http://www.w3.org/TR/2003/WD-xhtml2-20030506/mod-block- 
text.html#sec_8.9.
[2]  
http://www.w3.org/TR/2003/WD-xhtml2-20030506/mod-block- 
text.html#sec_8.5.
[3] http://www.w3.org/TR/2003/WD-xhtml2-20030506/mod-list.html#sec_11.2.
[4] http://www.w3.org/TR/2003/WD-xhtml2-20030506/mod-list.html#sec_11.5.
[5] http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/
[6] http://www.w3.org/TR/2003/WD-xhtml2-20030506/

--
Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>                     http://kynn.com
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain                http://idyllmtn.com
Author, CSS in 24 Hours                       http://cssin24hours.com
Inland Anti-Empire Blog                      http://blog.kynn.com/iae
Shock & Awe Blog                           http://blog.kynn.com/shock
Received on Friday, 13 June 2003 19:12:05 GMT

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