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RE: New window inform user, before or after link?

From: Phill Jenkins <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 2004 08:08:50 -0600
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <OF588EDB8B.733D8627-ON86256E4D.004C7195-86256E4D.004DB70A@us.ibm.com>
Think about this a moment - is this what we really want - authors adding 
hard coded icons, titles and alt attributes to inform us what will happen 
with target="_blank"?  What can a user do when they get annoyed, 
distracted, or confused when they encounter all these different icons and 
all their different alt text's?  The Opera browser can stop opening of new 
windows - a setting under the user's control, not the authors.  It's kind 
of like the "D" link for long descriptions - that's why the longdesc 
attribute was invented - how it is rendered is a browser +/- screen reader 
responsibility.  Why force it to the user by authoring it as is being 

I understand that we all want to do good - but is this really good?  Sure 
if you know the users of your site and they can benefit from it now - then 
I suppose it is an OK interim solution.  But think what will happen when 
the screen reader and browsers will announce target="_blank" before 
selecting the link - and the author adds an icon with alt text announcing 
a new window will be opened - the user in the future will hear it twice. 

I would only recommend this icon approach in rare or temporary cases until 
the responsibility of the browser and screen reader is made clear and 
adopted.  What we are all really about is usable accessibility.  Isn't 
this really the responsibility of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 
(UAAG) and not WCAG?

Phill Jenkins
IBM Research - Accessibility Center
Received on Thursday, 4 March 2004 09:09:33 UTC

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