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Re: Spawned browsers

From: Paul Adelson <paul.adelson@citicorp.com>
Date: Mon, 28 Sep 1998 14:24:53 -0500
Message-Id: <199809281926.PAA29264@egate2.citicorp.com>
To: "Charles (Chuck) Oppermann" <chuckop@MICROSOFT.com>
Cc: w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
In response to Charles (Chuck) Oppermann:

> <<
> The current UA draft doesn't seem to cover spawned browser windows -
> entirely new copies of the browser that can currently be generated
> without the user's awareness.
> >>
>
> Why is this an accessibility problem?  If another window appears on your
> screen and your accessibility aid doesn't tell you, that's not the browsers
> fault.
>
> (snip)
>
> Windows pop up all the time in the users computing experience - reminders
> for meetings, low battery alerts, buddy list messages, etc.

 Here's one situation that led to my bringing up the spawned browser question.
Please tell me whether it's an accessibility problem:

An experienced user (who is blind), using latest-generation access tools --
JFW3.2 and IE4.01 -- got totally flummoxed by a spawned browser window that
generated a server error. He found himself many levels down into a site, on an
uniformative error page with no links, where 'Refresh' and 'Back' wouldn't get
him out. The nearby sighted people had no problem getting out of the situation
by returning to the original browser window, but the blind user had no clue
that there were two windows open. On his own, he said, he would have closed
everything and re-started his navigation from scratch.

This issue is different than when alerts and reminders pop up. In those cases
there is usually a clear indication that the context has changed -- for
instance, a distinct change in window type or title. By contrast, spawning a
new browser window appears seamless to the user, and is therefore much more
confusing. The object of notification would be to reduce that confusion.

Out of curiosity after witnessing the above scene, I asked for feedback on
spawned windows from blind participants in the WAI Interest Group. I was
surprised by the lack of response, until one participant said that it was hard
to comment because he typically doesn't know when a new window has been
spawned. So the confusion isn't isolated to one person.

This stikes me as an accessiblity problem, but perhaps your opinion is
different. Yes, technically, they could find extra windows using, for instance
ALT-TAB. But it would be a lot easier to do so if they knew when a new window
was being opened in the first place.

Your message seems to put the blame for the problem on the accessibility aid
rather than the browser. Can we at least agree that if the issue is with his
accessibility aid, it is still a UA issue, and still merits discussion by this
group?

 -- Paul

***Opinions expressed are those of the author only.***
Received on Monday, 28 September 1998 15:25:39 UTC

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