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Question about ARIA role for bubble help (DHTML style guide)

From: Joseph Scheuhammer <clown@utoronto.ca>
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2008 12:08:45 -0400
Message-ID: <47E13A8D.3070901@utoronto.ca>
To: "wai-xtech@w3.org" <wai-xtech@w3.org>

To whom it may concern,

Yesterday's DHTML style guild call was about popup help.  The current 
thoughts on keyboard access are here:
http://dev.aol.com/dhtml_style_guide#popuphelp

I summarize the discussion below, not to elicit comments on the document 
(although that would be welcome as well), but to ask what is the ARIA 
role for bubble help?  The summary is solely to give the reader a feel 
for why this is an issue.

At the beginning of the discussion, popup help was described as similar 
to a tooltip, in that it popped up relative to some widget.  The 
difference is that bubble help has interactive elements within it.  
These interactive elements must be keyboard accessible.  During the 
discussion of the keystrokes, some felt that tabbing among the elements 
within popup help was cyclical -- if focus was on the last element, and 
the user pressed the tab key, then focus is moved to the first element 
in the popup.  Dismissal of the poup is accomplished by pressing the 
escape key, or activating one of its interactive elements, or clicking 
outside of it (Earl, is this correct re: mouse clicks?).  In this 
scenario, bubble help is acting somewhat like a modal dialog and/or a 
popup menu.  A candidate ARIA role is "alertdialog".  Or perhaps it 
should involve a role more appropriate for a "popup/tooltip", such as 
"presentation"?

By the end of the discussion, popup help was relatively more permanent, 
and behaved somewhat like a floating window or tear-off.  The example 
was of a series of instructions that the user would want to keep at hand 
as they followed them.  For example, the help bubble might contain:  
"Step 1:  go to the main page and look at such-and-such, and activate 
one of its options.  Step2:  next, go elsewhere and do so-and-so", and 
so on.  In this case, it is desirable that the help remain available, 
and be something that the user can return to easily while they follow 
its instructions.  Here, bubble help is amodal, perhaps a dialog or a 
window, that the user invokes when they need help, and, they can 
alternate focus between it and the main web app.  Is the ARIA role here 
simply "dialog"?  Is there an ARIA role for "tear off" windows?

Aside:  after writing the above, it seems to me that both scenarios are 
possible, and that there are actually two kinds of help "widgets":  One 
that is properly termed "bubble/popup help", and the other "floating 
help", or some such.  Still, what are their appropriate roles?

-- 
;;;;joseph

'This is not war -- this is pest control!'
      - "Doomsday", Dalek Leader -
Received on Wednesday, 19 March 2008 16:09:20 UTC

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