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Help sought with UA accessibility questions

From: Bill Mason <w3c@accessibleinter.net>
Date: Sat, 09 Aug 2003 15:50:02 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

I'm hoping I can tap the minds here to get some opinions and/or comments on 
an issue that came up recently in Mozilla Firebird development.

The semi-short background:

Recently the developers eliminated the program name "Mozilla Firebird" from 
the application titlebar, where it traditionally appears in many Windows 
programs.  Amongst other objections, someone suggested that this created 
accessibility issues.  And I pointed out that at the very least, it created 
an obstacle for a hypothetical Firebird user that uses assistive technology 
like JAWS (for example), since the software no longer had an application 
name to read in the titlebar and that could confuse a user as to what 
window they were in.

This was essentially put aside and the decision made to leave things stand 
until an actual blind woman who uses Firebird said they were going to stop 
using the software because it had become too confusing for them without the 
application name in the titlebar.  That apparently made the developer 
making this decision open to seeking alternatives and reexamining the whole 
accessibility question.

I'm just looking for informed opinion or insight on a few of the questions 
that have come up in the bug thread discussion, in order to hopefully keep 
contributing meaningfully to it and seeing it to the best resolution that 
can be found.  The questions that have come up are:

1) Can not having the application name in the titlebar be construed as 
against the UAAG, particularly:

7.3 Respect operating environment conventions, with consideration to these 

Having the name in the titlebar is suggested in Microsoft UI guidelines for 
Windows, but not mandated, and certainly not always followed even by Microsoft.

http://www.w3.org/TR/UAAG10/conformance.html#content-or-ua points out that 
in multiple operating environments "some developers may prefer 
cross-platform consistency over consistency with other user agents running 
in a given operating environment, and this might affect which conventions 
would be preferred" and that essentially is the situation here.  (The 
implementation of "Mozilla Firebird" in the titlebar had some Macintosh 
issues, and eliminating it cross-platform was considered preferable to 
doing platform detection and code-forking.)

2) Can not having the application name in the titlebar be construed as 
against the United States' Section 508, particularly:

1194.21(d): "Sufficient information about a user interface element 
including the identity,
operation and state of the element shall be available to assistive technology.
When an image represents a program element, the information conveyed by the
image must also be available in text."

3) The developer has wondered aloud if there is a means to feed the program 
name to assistive software besides having the program name in the titlebar.

For those seeking more detail on anything I've put forth here, the bug 
report that fully details the issue and the surrounding discussion is 

Any input or pointers to information that deals with any of these issues is 

Bill Mason
Accessible Internet
Received on Saturday, 9 August 2003 18:50:19 UTC

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