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UA WD review regarding physical disabilities

From: Bryan Campbell <bryany@pathcom.com>
Date: Fri, 07 Aug 1998 11:07:47 -0400
Message-Id: <2.2.32.19980807150747.00677d9c@mail.pathcom.com>
To: w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
This is a review of the UA draft as of 13 July 1998 relating to people with
physical disabilities as requested by Jon Gunderson. To effectively use the
Web this group has few extra requirements, at least in the way of Tags, so
it isn't surprising physical disabilities aren't mentioned on the WD.
Calling for keyboard navigation is good & meets most needs, except it gives
developers no insight into what is most helpful. It would be an unfortunate
omission not to give clear examples to guide developers to avoid awkward
implementation. Examples: NCSA Mosaic 2 & up use Keypad Left & Right Arrows
to move the Link Anchor while B & F change pages which is a huge distance to
move over the keyboard to give commands using one digit. Using those Arrow
keys leaves no way to move over wide pages left & right within a UA window,
such shortcomings can be minimized through suggestions in this document.
Since the Web is nearly all made up of pages it is vital that browsing
commands be placed close to the page movement keys in the keyboard Keypad
area. Reinforcing that placement is the use of ENTER as "get link/start
action" key. Now to specify recommendations.

Only 2 items need to be added to the UA document to clarify how keyboard
commands will much increase Web Accessibility. Section 2 Point 4 says:
"Provide tools to navigate the document: from link to link, form control to
form control, frame to frame, etc. Allow navigation through keyboard at all
times." Add to 2nd sentence: "using the shortest possible keyboard commands
so that the keyboard experience approximates the one click ease of using a
mouse." This explains why very short keyboard commands are necessary &
specifies mouse like easy of use via keyboards as an idealized goal.

Section 6 of the UA document deals with Navigation issues so keyboard
strategy should be dealt with in it. Perhaps as a 2nd paragraph in the
Introduction or as its own 6.x Subsection. Ideas in it will guide developers
when adding Accessibility features.

"People with various physical disabilities travel the Web via keyboard with
only one finger, a headwand, or otherwise have very limited dexterity. Easy
keyboard browsing commands on the main keyboard make browsing enjoyable. The
page movement keys (Up, Down, & so on) in the Keypad area are often used to
move Web pages so placing keyboard browsing commands nearby eliminates
jumping over the whole keyboard to give commands. That the Keypad area, &
NumberPad also, exists shows good reason to cluster keys with related
functions. With ENTER as the "get link/start action" key two sets of one
keystroke browsing commands would be in ease reach. Yet having browsing
commands in one large block is troublesome for people lacking fine motor
control as they are apt to slid on to nearby keys. To lessen chances of
hitting another key command keys are best isolated by keys with no commands
(just as Keypad keys have some empty space around them). Because the rows of
keys across keyboards are offset from those above & below there is less
chance of sliding up or down to hit incorrect keys. Placing browsing
commands in columns should let people watch the Web, not the keyboard. The
most used commands would be best put in a column nearest ENTER. For example,
with Page Next & Back on "=" & "[" above Link Anchor Up & Down on ";" & "."
(perhaps CONTROL could Modify the Link keys to move the Anchor 6 Links)
choosing links requires little movement around the keyboard. Using one
keystroke commands also reduces typing which helps unsteady people as they
hit the wrong key more often than most."

A few details could be added, yet it seems timely to sent the Group a draft
now. About placing one keystroke browsing commands on the main part of the
keyboard it is notable that Microsoft has long seen given people with
physical disabilities extended keyboard controls. Software turns the Number
Pad into a keyboard mouse where individual keys & keystrokes together
emulate a mouse; the Gray + key does a double-click that likely is the
easiest double-click around! Keypad keys are one keystroke commands, as are
the Function keys so one keystroke commands are common to Windows. Seen
combined with the separate keys that create the software mouse seems that
using single keys on the main keyboard for browsing isn't such a new feature
for Windows. Instead it is a terrific extension of a long Microsoft policy
of giving people with physical disabilities necessary tools to cope with a
GUI. Accessibility features Default to Off so very few people would notice
the browsing commands. Accepting one keystroke browsing commands would
continue Microsoft's policy of giving buyers what we need. Thanks for readings.

Regards,
Bryan

-> "I don't need to stand to talk, to advise, & to generally make a pain in
the ass out of myself." Dr. Stephen Franklin, "Babylon 5": 'Shadow Dancing'
Received on Friday, 7 August 1998 11:03:49 UTC

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