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Re: tabbing through the active elements

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 07:54:56 -0500
Message-Id: <199903121251.HAA2874980@relay.interim.iamworld.net>
To: Marja-Riitta Koivunen <marja@w3.org>, w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
Marja,

You have to consider how this practice developed.  The screen reader users
didn't analyze a problem, pick a strategy for solving the problem, and code
tools to support the strategy.

The common practice of tabbing arount the page as a way of getting oriented
is based on the following points, AFAIK:

- screen readers had "read what is highlighted" function

- browsers had tab from link to link function.  Continuing tradition of
tabbing around form fields, also c.f. Gopher/Lynx UIs.

- link text advertises what you can do at that link

- links are pretty much what you can do in HTML.  "What can I _do_?" is a
query which is a good concentrator (summary extractor) for both what the
author is thinking and what the visitor wants.

- hence, reading link text of the links semi-works as a summary of the page.

- hence, tabbing through links with screen reader in "read highlight" mode
semi-works as page skim/explore strategy.  [Until there are 22 icons for a
navigation button bar with no ALT text as the first 22 links on the page...]

As the only thing that semi-worked consistently for many pages, it became a
widely adopted behavior on the part of the users.

It's more a matter of frustration and trying to find _anything_ which
_begins_ to explain what the page is about than any master plan.  One has
to have experienced the alternatives to understand the attraction of this
browse strategy.

Anything we ask all browsers to do should share the following
characteristics with the above scenario:

- function is extremely robust
- taps a latent consistency, a de_facto pattern or structure that authors
often follow

Al



At 03:02 PM 3/11/99 -0500, Marja-Riitta Koivunen wrote:
>I'm still struggling to understand the tasks that the users who are not
>able to see the page are trying to do when they use different kind of
>tabbings .
>
>Somebody said at the last teleconf that active elements (links and
>controls) are used to get a peak or an overview of what is in the page. I
>looked couple of pages shortly trying to simulate that.
>
>One big difficulty was that I really would like to separate between the
>navigation bar elements, advertisements and the actual content of the page.
>Which one I want to look at a certain time depends at least on what I have
>done earlier and what my goals are.
>
>Sometimes I might want to browse first the main title of the page and then
>see the navigation bar links to orientate myself. The last part is the
>active elements in content. Sometimes I might want to see just the content
>links and controls as I am looking different pages at the same site. Often
>however, I still browse the headers first and then go to the links and
>controls (if I go to a control do I get the explanation of the control as
>well?).
>
>It would be nice to learn what the users frequently using these tabbing
>techniques do. What kind of strategies they have in going through the pages
>and what kind of difficulties there are? Are there clearly different types
>of sites that need different strategies? Would it help to use hierarchical
>tabbing where you can go up and down to more or less details in the
>semantic structure with one button while tabbing forward or backward the
>page with another?
>
>  Marja
> 
Received on Friday, 12 March 1999 07:51:45 UTC

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