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RE: Using Frames - what problems do screen readers have?

From: Jim Thatcher <jim@jimthatcher.com>
Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2003 18:33:54 -0600
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <002201c3ad6b$a906d8d0$6401a8c0@JTCOM2400>

Frames are (or can be) presented to users of screen readers as a list
(INS+TAB for Window-Eyes, INS+F9 for JAWS and CTRL+E for HPR); the text in
the list should specify the purpose of the frame - like "navigation" and
"main content." I hope and believe that both Window-Eyes and Jaws will use
the title attribute of the Frame element in that list if it is present. HPR
currently uses the TITLE element of the frame page.

The biggest problem with frames (as far as access goes, not counting
bookmarks etc.) is the fact that IE has it wrong. In the example at
http://www.freedomscientific.com/HTML_challenge/files/frames_demo2.html when
you select a link in the navigation pane, focus STAYS on the navigation
pane; it should move to the page that is opened in the main content frame.
You can check it out. HPR was the first to over-ride IE's mistake and place
focus where it belongs; I understand that JAWS 5.0 fixes it too. But
Window-Eyes still leaves focus on the place where the link was activated.

If IE did it right, then frames would be a pretty nice way of dealing with
content for all kinds of AT; but it is broken.

Accessibility, What Not to do: http://jimthatcher.com/whatnot.htm. 
Web Accessibility Tutorial: http://jimthatcher.com/webcourse1.htm.

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] On Behalf
Of Julian Voelcker
Sent: Monday, November 17, 2003 11:52 AM
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: Using Frames - what problems do screen readers have?

I understand that whilst it is not recommended, it is possible to 
create accessible frames.

We have a web based application that uses frames to split the screen up 
so you have a header strip across the top of the screen, a menu strip 
down the left hand side and then the main area of the screen is split 
horizontally with listings in the top half of the screen and details in 
the bottom half of the screen.

Users select an area to work on from the menu on the left and then 
browse through the listing to select a particular item that is launched 
in the details frame.  Most of the work in the application is based on 
jumping between the listing and details pages.

We are just about to redevelop the application in a bid to make it more 
accessible, however want to try to avoid dropping the use of frames 
because they are quite integral to the functionality and loosing them 
will result in a lot more trips to the server and a lot more scrolling 
of the pages.

I would be interested to hear your comments.


Julian Voelcker
Cirencester, United Kingdom
Received on Monday, 17 November 2003 19:34:07 UTC

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