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RE: Call for feedback on accessible DHTML menus

From: Geoff Deering <gdeering@acslink.net.au>
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2003 06:53:42 +1000
To: <tcroucher@netalleynetworks.com>, "'James Craig'" <work@cookiecrook.com>
Cc: "'WAI Interest Group'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <NBBBJPNFCLNLAADCLFJBAEAKEPAA.gdeering@acslink.net.au>

That is true, but if you turn scripts off, in this case it renders the menus
unfunctional and therefore inaccessible in every sense.

A site CANNOT be accessible with dhtml menus if scripts are turned off.
This is not a screen reader issue or anything as such, it is a basic
usability problem.  With scripts turned off DHTML menus like these are dead
(as in a dead parrot).


6.3 Ensure that pages are usable when scripts, applets, or other
programmatic objects are turned off or not supported. If this is not
possible, provide equivalent information on an alternative accessible page.
[Priority 1]

You cannot use DHTML for menuing and meet this checkpoint because DHTML
menus require scripts being turned on.  WCAG1 is an excellent document
addressing both accessibility and basic usability requirements.  The people
who wrote it understood these issues.  It not only is a great document for
accessibility, but also an incredible document for understanding basic
usability problems, and covers many checkpoints that many usability experts
completely overlook.  A lot of usability professionals do not take into
account all the myriad ways people choose to configure their user agent.
Thanks to the WCAG GL we do have checkpoints that are not only good for
accessibility, but also for usability.

Many people are under the illusion that even if their page depends on
javascript to function that it still meets accessibility under WCAG1 P1.  A
lot of this had to do with Bobby (cast.org version at least) not checking
even for the existence of <NOSCRIPT> tags alongside <SCRIPT> tags.  They
would bet the WCAG1 P1 seal of approval from Bobby and away they go.

But as I said in my first post, many people that do not require
accessibility features browse with scripts turned off, or use a current
browser or use 3rd party software to control the function of many parts of
the DOM.

Unfortunately Javascript has been misused by a lot of developers (mouse
traps, etc), and those who want to use it to enhance accessibility and
usability are confronted with people who use these techniques to protect
themselves from Javascript misuse.

DHTML menus also present usability problems for people who have not come
across them before.  They often find them confusing behavoir in a hypertext

I'm not for or against them.  Really they are often a great and more elegant
alternative to what other hypertext alternatives there are.  They can really
help users get into a site deeply with just one hypertext action.  And if
James's menuing is more accessible than most others out there, then that is
great work.  But don't kid yourself that it meets WCAG1 requirements.  There
are very good reasons for WCAG1 checkpoint 6.3

Geoff Deering

-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Croucher

Accessibility and functionality are not the same.

A site can be accessible with dhtml menus if one can still use the site.
You should think of drop down menus as more link options. If the main
links (at the top of the menu) are still usable it doesn't matter. Most
of this is completely a mute point for screen readers which often see
the entire menu anyway since the dhtml menus usually just visually hide
the extra options they don't want on screen at any point.

Tom Croucher

Co-founder Netalley Networks
BSc(Hons) Computing Student / Information Services Staff University of
Accessibility Co-ordinator Plone CMS

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of Geoff Deering
Sent: 22 September 2003 21:16
To: James Craig
Cc: WAI Interest Group
Subject: RE: Call for feedback on accessible DHTML menus

To quote directly from


"Dynamic HTML" is a term used by some vendors to describe the
combination of
HTML, style sheets and scripts that allows documents to be animated.

The title of your subject is "Call for feedback on accessible DHTML

If you turn scripts off in the user agent it disables this type of
system because it depend on scripts being turned on to be operatable.
you tried using it with scripts turned off?  This is what I mean by the
being dependant on DHTML.  If it is built on such a menuing system it is
dependant on DHTML and for anyone with scripts turn off it is unusable.


-----Original Message-----
From: James Craig [mailto:work@cookiecrook.com]
Sent: Tuesday, 23 September 2003 1:23 AM
To: gdeering@acslink.net.au
Subject: Re: Call for feedback on accessible DHTML menus

Geoff Deering wrote:
> The problem with this is WCAG1 Checkpoint 6.3 P1.  There is enough
> there to indicate that a good percentage of your audience do browse
> scripts turned off, and there is also those out there with scripts
> on, but with ad blockers installed to control or disable various
> the DOM, or using a modern browser that allows custom control over the
> and other media.  If your site is "Dependant" on DHTML to operate,
then I
> don't see how it can comply with this checkpoint.

Of course, the site isn't dependent on DHTML. How do you figure it is?


Received on Tuesday, 23 September 2003 16:53:49 UTC

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