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Re: accessibility as a first principle (was: Re: New Telcon Time: Vote!)

From: Cameron McCormack <cam@mcc.id.au>
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 2009 22:39:08 +1100
To: Robin Berjon <robin@berjon.com>
Cc: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <oedipus@hicom.net>, Doug Schepers <schepers@w3.org>, SVG IG List <public-svg-ig@w3.org>, janina@rednote.net, www-archive@w3.org
Message-ID: <20090309113908.GC9678@arc.mcc.id.au>
Hello all.

Robin Berjon:
> It's an experimental tool, and they thought it was marked up in a way
> that would make it accessible. It turns out that it's not, and that's
> a bug, but filing a simple bug report would have sufficed and probably
> been more effective than ascribing intentions.

When I wrote the tool, it was a quick hack for use by the active members
of the SVG WG, and at the time, none was visually impaired and unable to
use it as written.  It did of course cross my mind at the time that
there would accessibility issues, but working on that got put off.  Two
years later, Doug asked me to use the tool for the IG and I thought “why
not”, not remembering the accessibility issues that lay dormant, and
which may be exacerbated by wider use of the tool.

With that history in mind, of course I am interested in having the tool
accessible.  I would welcome constructive suggestions in this regard.
A couple of technical points stand out to me:

  * Form submission is done based on <input type=hidden> elements that
    are in each table cell.  This could at least be replaced with
    <select> elements that are styled hidden with CSS for visual media.

  * Modification of the <input>s (or <select>s) are performed in
    response to mousedowns and mousemoves over the table cells.  This,
    in combination with the selection of the “current preference to
    paint” radio buttons, is how the “painting” is done.  Having to
    change the value of each <input> or <select> isn’t as convenient,
    but it is some level of fallback.

Presenting the table with colours/labels to get an overview of what
preferences you have selected (and on the “intersection of impossible
times page”) is an interaction that is inherently not useful or
applicable when you have a restricted focus such as when using a screen
reader.  “Painting” could work, if you navigate to a cell and then
indicate to the UA the extent that you wish to mark/activate the cells,
but I don’t know that any kind of ARIA annotation is available for this
(or whether ARIA is the appropriate layer for this annotation at all).
I’d be interested in suggestions on better kinds of interaction for this
timetable painting case.

This is getting a bit off topic for the SVG IG, though, unless anyone
has some suggestions on how to implement the tool accessibly using SVG.
:-)

Thanks,

Cameron

-- 
Cameron McCormack ≝ http://mcc.id.au/
Received on Monday, 9 March 2009 11:40:05 UTC

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