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RE: Using Heading to Replace Skip Links

From: Vivienne CONWAY <v.conway@ecu.edu.au>
Date: Sat, 12 May 2012 11:27:46 +0800
To: Adam Cooper <cooperad@bigpond.com>, 'Ramón Corominas' <listas@ramoncorominas.com>
CC: 'W3C WAI-IG' <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <8AFA77741B11DB47B24131F1E38227A9BDEE730C43@XCHG-MS1.ads.ecu.edu.au>
Hi Adam and list

That's brilliant advice Adam, thanks.

Further question for you Adam.  If you were assessing the WCAG 2 compliance of a website and there were no skip links, but an adequate heading structure, would you still say it fails 2.4.1.?


Vivienne L. Conway, B.IT(Hons), MACS CT
PhD Candidate & Sessional Lecturer, Edith Cowan University, Perth, W.A.
Director, Web Key IT Pty Ltd.
Mob: 0415 383 673

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From: Adam Cooper [cooperad@bigpond.com]
Sent: Saturday, 12 May 2012 11:15 AM
To: 'Ramón Corominas'; Vivienne CONWAY
Cc: 'W3C WAI-IG'
Subject: RE: Using Heading to Replace Skip Links

Hi Ramón and Vivienne,

        Some musings of an everyday screen reader user …

For users dependent on a screen reader, every new page involves discovery.
The almost innate relevance filtering available for visual users is a
time-consuming and strategic process for screen reader users which is why
navigational elements and meaningful structure is so important.

So-called skip to links are useful for screen reader users, especially when
there is only one or no headings on a page, when the header is content-rich,
or when  lumpy tables are used to layout headers and content, but navigating
by ‘navigation keys’ through sufficient and meaningful headings is more

One of the most irritating issues using navigation links with a screen
reader can be the placement of destination anchors. While a mechanism for
bypassing blocks of text is very useful, an efficient mechanism is more
desirable, and, as a screen reader user, I’d prefer not to be fishing around
with cursor keys to find the beginning of a block of content because a CMS
or a developer has not placed an anchor immediately before relevant content.

so, I broadly concur with Vivienne’s sentiment that  “Frankly, I think it
should be a requirement as we're wanting to make things better for people to
get to the content, not more difficult.“

But I would add the following conditions:
1.      Skip links must be the first elements on a page that accept focus
2.      Skip links must be always visible
3.      Skip links must always include link text that clearly identifies
their purpose (I have seen on pages recently <li>Skip to: ><a
href=”#content”>Content</a></li>. Quite apart from the very common and
equally irritating overuse of list elements to position content, I don’t
believe the link purpose is clear.)
4.      Skip to links must destinate immediately prior to relevant content
5.      Avoid using the same name and id attribute values for destination
anchors as this can result in a similar target vagueness with some screen
readers in some situations

Hope this helps,

-----Original Message-----
From: Ramón Corominas [mailto:listas@ramoncorominas.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 09, 2012 10:13 PM
To: Vivienne CONWAY
Subject: Re: Using Heading to Replace Skip Links

Hi, Vivienne and all,

SC 2.4.1 states:

"2.4.1 Bypass Blocks: A mechanism is available to bypass blocks of
content that are repeated on multiple Web pages. (Level A)"

And "mechanism" is defined as "process or technique for achieving a
result", with the following note:

"Note 1: The mechanism may be explicitly provided in the content, or may
be relied upon to be provided by either the platform or by user agents,
including assistive technologies."

So, in terms of conformance, headings *are* a mechanism that relies upon
UA/AT support.

In addition, I would consider if the meaning of "bypass blocks" is
"bypass the tabs" or simply "bypass the content". Even if they cannot
"skip tabs", Sighted people can simply look after the repeated content
if the visual design remains the same among pages. For example, I can
just press "down arrow" to read the page, and I am not obligued to read
the menus before I can read the main title of an article, so visual
consistency can be considered a "mechanism" (a technique) to achieve
"visual bypass". And, for blind people, headings is enough.

My 2 cents (wink)

Vivienne wrote:

> I've been having some discussions with people as to whether using Headings
as per H69 can replace the use of skip links for Bypass Blocks (SC 2.4.1.).
> I would appreciate your consideration of this interpretation:
> "Headings can only replace skip links for screen reader users - they don't
benefit sighted keyboard-only users (e.g. Prof Hawking) and low vision users
using screen magnifiers, for whom skip links work much better (because they
don't have shortcut keys to navigate headings).
> Although H69 mentions Opera supports navigation by headings - it's turned
off by default and requires a hidden option to turn back on
> http://www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/navigation-mechanisms-skip.html
> Techniques and Failures for Success Criterion 2.4.1 - Bypass Blocks
> Each numbered item in this section represents a technique or combination
of techniques that the WCAG Working Group deems sufficient for meeting this
Success Criterion. The techniques listed only satisfy the Success Criterion
if all of the WCAG 2.0 conformance requirements have been met.
> http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/REC-WCAG20-20081211/#conformance-reqs
> Conformance Requirements
> 4. Only Accessibility-Supported Ways of Using Technologies: Only
accessibility-supported ways of using technologies are relied upon to
satisfy the success criteria. Any information or functionality that is
provided in a way that is not accessibility supported is also available in a
way that is accessibility supported. (See Understanding accessibility
> http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/REC-WCAG20-20081211/#accessibility-supporteddef
> accessibility supported
> The way that the Web content technology is used must be supported by
users' assistive technology (AT)
> Taken together, my interpretation is you can’t use headings alone to claim
conformance with 2.4.1 since they bypass blocks in screen readers but not
other assistive technology (e.g. screen magnifiers, switches, voice
recognition etc.). It looks the conformance requirements are designed to
provide a safety net for cases like this."

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Received on Saturday, 12 May 2012 03:31:11 UTC

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