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Re: Rethinking the necessities of ARIA landmark role "main" and HTML5 <main> element

From: Charles McCathie Nevile <chaals@yandex-team.ru>
Date: Sun, 24 Mar 2013 01:33:25 +0100
To: "Ian Yang" <ian@invigoreight.com>, "Steve Faulkner" <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <op.wufc5zewy3oazb@chaals.local>
On Sat, 23 Mar 2013 16:21:17 +0100, Steve Faulkner  
<faulkner.steve@gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Ian,
>> Ian Hixie, he mentioned that the existence of the ARIA landmark role
>> "main" is a mistake

I've seen this assertion from him, and discussions about why. I am  
unconvinced by the arguments I have seen. I also haven't seen anything  
that reasonably contradicts the data Steve produced to justify the  
element. My discussions with web developers, from small-shop devs to  
things like Yandex with millions of users across dozens or hundreds of  
services suggest that the element makes sense.

>> That's very thought-provoking

Well, it might be. The original proposal was thought-provoking enough to  
also provoke me into reading other people's thoughts and research and even  
doing a small amount of my own. My conclusions are that differences in the  
WHAT-WG version are silly, but the element as specified in the HTML  
specification and as commonly implemented is actually very useful.

The fact that Ian disagrees with something isn't enough to be  
though-provoking on its own. He is clever, and often right. But not about  
everything. Some of his insights into accessibility are very helpful, and  
some of them just suggest that he knows more about other aspects of HTML.

> both role=main and now <main> are part of the web platform and
> interoperably implemented across browsers and assistive technology

Yes, and this happened very quickly. That doesn't necessarily mean they  
are a good idea, because sometimes the wisdom of the crowd isn't quite as  
clever as we hope, but it suggests that a large proportion of the relevant  
decision makers, who on balance are usually quite smart and quite  
thoughtful about what they add to the web, are convinced that the element  
makes sense.

A major reason for the element is to replace the "skip to main content"  
links that are all over the web, for accessibility purposes. While the use  
of those links is a terrible bit of architecture (they only work if you  
start from the top of the page and navigate with the keyboard, etc etc)  
they are deemed useful enough to include on all kinds of websites whose  
designs have been through multiple rounds of usability testing to ensure  
they make sense in practice.

There have been discussions in all kinds of places. Since Steve was the  
big proponent, he can probably provide pointers by digging through his  
email archive, but I suggest you look at the mail archives of the W3C's  
HTML Working Group[1], the W3C's HTML Accessibility Task Force[2] in  
particular. You can also look at things like IRC logs, blog posts, and so  
on. A Yandex search [3] shows a handful of interesting perspectives in  
blogs and articles, too.

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/
[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html-a11y/

Note that this is just my personal opinion, and I am not always right :)



Charles McCathie Nevile - Consultant (web standards) CTO Office, Yandex
       chaals@yandex-team.ru         Find more at http://yandex.com
Received on Sunday, 24 March 2013 00:34:00 UTC

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