W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > wai-xtech@w3.org > February 2007

ARIA Drop Down and Combo button behavior

From: Becky Gibson <Becky_Gibson@notesdev.ibm.com>
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2007 11:47:32 -0500
To: wai-xtech@w3.org
Message-ID: <OFD4FE0D1B.0A47AA67-ON8525727C.005B1E82-8525727C.005C4ABF@LocalDomain>
I need to implement drop down and combo buttons so I hacked together a 
simple example.   I created it in XHTML so I could add the attributes 
directly into the markup and created  some simple functions to give the 
basic behavior.   Since this is XHTML and uses a content-type of 
application/xhtml+xml it will only work in Firefox.

A drop down button is a button that opens a menu when activated.  I think 
the drop down button implementation in the example is acceptable.  I gave 
the button a role of button with a popup.  Activating the button opens up 
a context menu and both JAWS 8 and WE 6 will speak context menu so the 
user should get the idea that the button action is to open up a menu. Then 
you can down arrow into the menu.  Right now you have to open the menu 
then arrow to it - the alternative would be to open the menu AND set focus 
to the first menu item when the button is activated. 

The more difficult scenario is the combo button where activating the 
button performs a default action and you can open an associated context 
menu.  Generally this is implemented as a button with two sections - the 
text and a down arrow to open the menu.    I have created two 
implementations.   In one I create just one tab stop for the button in the 
second scenario I create a tab stop for the button/default action and 
another tab stop for the part of the button that opens the popup menu. 
JAWS actually does pretty well with both types. 

 The case where there is only one tab stop has a role of menu.  The idea 
is that the user would hear menu and default option and then open the menu 
and select an action - the default action would be the first menu choice. 
JAWS does speak it as a menu but  WE doesn't work with it very well.  I 
can get WE to speak that the "button" is a menu but not speak the action 
of "save": 

In the second implementation of the combo button I made the default action 
a button and the drop down arrow a button. It seems kind of odd to have 
two separate buttons but I didn't think the role of menu on the arrow 
button was correct.  I guess the arrow should just be an implementation of 
the drop down button - although in this case activating the button opens 
the menu and immediately sets focus to the first menu choice (which is 
different from what I did in the top drop down button - I'm not sure which 
one is preferred). 

So, which implementation of the combo button do you prefer?   Do you think 
we need an additional role to better describe these type of buttons? 
What about the behavior of the drop down button, when the menu is opened 
should focus go immediately to the first menu item or should the user be 
expected to press the down arrow? 

Becky Gibson
Web Accessibility Architect
IBM Emerging Internet Technologies
5 Technology Park Drive
Westford, MA 01886
Voice: 978 399-6101; t/l 333-6101
Email: gibsonb@us.ibm.com

Received on Thursday, 8 February 2007 16:47:46 UTC

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