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HTML5 could facilitate grouping of menu items

From: Greg Lowney <gcl-0039@access-research.org>
Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2011 16:51:03 -0800
Message-ID: <4E30B277.5010709@access-research.org>
To: WAI-UA list <w3c-wai-ua@w3.org>
Hi! I've added the following to the wiki at http://www.w3.org/WAI/UA/work/wiki/HTML5_review_by_UAWG_notes#Facilitate_grouping_of_menu_items:


    Facilitate grouping of menu items

The description of how user agent should or must handle the menu element and its contents might be overly prescriptive. There are cases where the user agent should be allowed to adjust the presentation, particularly for different screen resolutions or navigation methods, that would require going against the prescribed behaviors. It could also do more to facilitate hierarchical presentation and navigation by allowing labeled groups of items.

*Use case:* Nadia is blind and using a web browser with a screen reader. The document contains a menu structure created with the HTML5 menu element, and it includes some very long menus with many groups of menu items separated by horizontal rules into various groups or sections. As Nadia uses the down arrow key to navigate through the menu items, she has to pause for each one to be read to her, so traversing a long menu takes a long time and a lot of effort. She would prefer to have the menu presented to her in hierarchical fashion that uses progressive disclosure, so she could navigate through the short list of sections, and then through the short list of commands in the desired section, rather than through one long list of items.

*Use case:* Aidan is the opposite of Nadia. He uses an alternative input system and input is difficult for him, so he wants to reduce the number of actions he has to take. Therefore he prefers to see all the options visible at once so that he can choose one directly, rather than having to use mechanisms involving progressive disclosure. (He has even invested in a large, high-resolution monitor to support this work style.) Rather than choosing a sub-menu and then items from them, he'd rather have all the sub-menus and their items displayed together. Unfortunately, the HTML5 specification explicitly states that the menu element with a label must be presented as a sub-menu rather than displayed inline.

*HTML5 Status:* The current HTML5 draft specification has a few problems with this. First, it clearly spells out when user agents should render groups of menu items inline vs. as a submenu, seemingly giving the user agent no leeway to adjust for user preference. Instead, it should note that user agents may override the default presentation described. Second, much to Nadia's dismay, it strongly emphasizes the use of hr elements to divide menu items into groups, rather than recommending methods that allow providing labels for those groups. This prevents the user agent from giving her a meaningful list of sections to navigate through. It looks like some methods are probably supported, such as by using a nested menu element that's labeled by a label element rather than a label attribute, and so would by default be presented inline rather than as a submenu, but they're not discussed in detail or recommended.

*Recommendation:* The HTML5 specification should note that user agents may override the default presentation described in order to comply with user preferences.

*Recommendation:* In order to facilitate structural or hierarchical navigation and progressive disclosure, the HTML5 specification should emphasize giving names to groupings, including to groups of menu items.
Received on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 23:53:35 GMT

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