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Re: Copywriting for Screenreaders (was Alt text for URL's)

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 07:35:47 +0000 (GMT)
Message-Id: <200502180735.j1I7Zln05697@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

> 
> >>   phone-numbers, and a link above the latter column reading "Sort on
> >>   number", this would also be objected to since "sort" is a verb?
> > 
> > That should be a button, if one is using controls appropriately.  
> 
>   Why should that be a button?

Buttons are actions, links are references.  I realise that web designers
don't like using standard controls because it reduces their ability to
brand, but for usability you should use them properly.  In particular,
the early use of images as buttons greatly confused the distinction.

If you look at Mozilla's email client (at least that in version 0.9.7)
(I think Outlook in Office 97 is the same), you will see that the
column headings in the listings are styled and animated as buttons.
That's because they are re-sort commands.  (There is a cognitive
disabilites/elderly user problem here in that you have to learn another
user interface metaphor rule before you can realise that they do perform
a sort.)  Whilst the verb in the label is only implied, they are being
treated as verbs.

There are other problems in your example.  Even with buttons, simple
physical juxtaposition only works well for visual users, which is why
the guidelines request that link text referring to different resources
not be the same.  Whilst the prime culprit is "click here", "sort by"
would be another example.

Actually, in this case, its arguable that this is not really a request
to sort on the fly, in which case a link would be semantically correct,
but the grammar is wrong; the link should be "sorted by <heading>".  If
one wants to have the control adjacent to the parameter of the source,
I would still say that the conceptual model was an on the fly re-sort
and it was therefore an action, requiring a button.
Received on Friday, 18 February 2005 08:23:04 GMT

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