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Skip navigation in WCAG-2

From: Jesper Tverskov <jesper.tverskov@mail.tele.dk>
Date: Thu, 9 Sep 2004 11:46:01 +0200
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000001c49651$d0ebacc0$440bc650@tversdatg7y7vv>

The meaning of "Skip navigation" is almost completely changed in the
proposal for WCAG-2. Basically a "until user agents" has just been
dropped but in this case it changes the meaning of the guideline.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

In WCAG-1:

"13.6 Group related links, identify the group (for user agents), and,
until user agents do so, provide a way to bypass the group. [Priority

In WCAG-1 it is clear that "skip navigation" is regarded as a user agent
issue. Authors should not bother about it, or just a little, the day
user agents can do the job.

This is a good approach. Already today a browser like Mozilla has a
"Find as you type" feature. It can be set up to work for links only
using the first letter of link text as access key making it extremely
easy to move around for keyboard users even making HTML Accesskey

Most screen readers have or should have ways to go to next word, next
sentence, next paragraph, next heading, next list, end of list of links,
etc. It is much better for users of screen readers to become experts in
using these generic methods for moving around that can be used at most
websites than to rely on "skip navigation" implemented by millions of
web page authors never using it themselves.

"Skip navigation" should not be an author issue but should remain a user
agent issue. Making it an author issue is a text book example of how not
to make the web more accessible. Accessibility should as much as
possible be handled by user agents and as little as possible depend of
the acts of millions of web page authors.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

In WCAG-2, Guideline 2.4, Level 2 Success criteria:

"Large blocks of material that are repeated on multiple pages, such as
navigation menus with more than 8 or more links, can be bypassed by
people who use screen readers or who navigate via keyboard or keyboard
interface. [V]"

and in HTML Techniques for WCAG 2.0, 9.6 Skipping link groups, says:

"Include a link that allows users to skip over grouped links."

"If there are five or more navigation links and/or other content that
comes before the main content of the page then the skip navigation
technique should probably be used. If there are twenty links and other
elements before the main content, one of these techniques definitely
should be used. The link should be at or very near the top of the page;
it is a link with a local target just before the beginning of the main

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Note the difference: Guidelines, WCAG-2, talk about 8 links, Techniques,
WCAG-2, talk about 5 and 20 links.

*** User agents are no longer mentioned, it has become an author issue
By dropping "until user agents", in this case, WCAG-2 comes in line with
Section 508 also regarding "skip navigation" as an author issue. This
makes the proposal for WCAG-2 just as plain wrong as Section 508 has
always been.

WCAG-1 was right about "skip navigation" being mainly a user agent

Best regards,
Jesper Tverskov

Received on Thursday, 9 September 2004 09:46:02 UTC

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