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Re: Why Skip Navigation Links are a Hack

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@sidar.org>
Date: Sat, 14 Jun 2003 12:08:58 +0200
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
To: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Message-Id: <36DCDEAE-9E50-11D7-83DE-000A958826AA@sidar.org>

Hmmm. "Skip navigation" links are providing for deficiencies in HTML 
browsers. In particular IE, one of the few browsers not to implement 
link. But also for the many browsers (Opera, Amaya, and Jaws used with 
IE are notable exceptions) which don't allow navigation of the 
structure - getting to a heading in many otherwise horrible sites is an 
effective strategy.

So I do think they are a hack, but I don't think they are a 
particularly bad hack architecturally (for example compared to the alt 
attribute) and they more or less do the job in the 80% simple case. I 
do think it is important to look towards a future and not assume that 
what we have now is as good as it gets.

Interestingly for Kynn's original point, that XHTML 2 is trying to 
explicitly note navigation structures, there is a requirement in the 
draft XML Accessibility Guidelines [1] that languages identify the key 
navigation structures. The approach taken in XHTML 2 is one way of 
doing so (another would be to use xlinks which identify key elements, 
or to provide an XSLT that gave just the key waypoints, and there are 
other possible techiques)

cheers

Chaals

[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/xag

On Saturday, Jun 14, 2003, at 01:16 Europe/Zurich, Kynn Bartlett wrote:

>
> 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.
--
Charles McCathieNevile                          Fundación Sidar
charles@sidar.org                                http://www.sidar.org
Received on Saturday, 14 June 2003 06:09:43 GMT

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