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

From: David Poehlman <poehlman1@comcast.net>
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 2004 09:34:20 -0500
Message-ID: <000701c401f5$c9464f20$6401a8c0@handsontech>
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

the truth today is that often, new windows are spawned without foreknowledge
of the user and often, this means that a user has to jump through hoops to
either focus on the window or figure out why certain associated behavior
does not occur such as back or the activation of the menus for acting on the
content.  We now do have some reliefe after the fact by the announcement of
the fact that a new window has opened in some environments, but if for some
reason in today's world we would rather skip it or be warned about it, this
does not happen.  For purposes of informing the user, we need to have some
indication of this.  I do agree that alt as link text is not good.  I'd
rather see the information for the link and the function of the link placed
between > and </a>.  If the author wants to open a new window, the author
should signal this in some higenic way.  I personally have never found a
reason to spawn a new window that could not be dealt with in a better way
but I could be rong.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Phill Jenkins" <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Sent: Thursday, March 04, 2004 9:08 AM
Subject: RE: New window inform user, before or after link?

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 09:34:51 UTC

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