W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > October 2010

[css3-multicol] accessibility and UX

From: Daniel Glazman <daniel.glazman@disruptive-innovations.com>
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2010 12:20:14 +0200
Message-ID: <4CB82ADE.4010000@disruptive-innovations.com>
To: "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
I think we have a light problem with columns as they are specified in
CSS. In case the height of a multicolumned element is higher than the
height of the viewport, the user experience becomes awful because when
you reach the bottom of a column, you must use the pointer to scroll
back to the top of the next column. In terms of accessibility, some
people just cannot scroll like you and me, so that's a huge issue
we should probably address.

You may reply that constraining the height of the element to 100vh and
setting |overflow: scroll| solves the problem. No it does not because
then you still have a vertical scrollbar on the element.

Another possible idea is to have some sort of "button" at the bottom of
the element to move in one click to the top of the element. Oh well, and
what if the element is higher than 2 viewports' height? On a small 
netbook screen? Hum.

Of course, you can still control the height of the element in vh units,
set the width of columns and let the rendering engine compute the number
of columns. Then the horizontal scrollbar becomes needed and you'll
often end up with a horiz-scrollbar **no web designer is ready for**.

So if the the web page has no real control on the textual contents of
the element and therefore the author is unable to be sure the element
will not overflow beyond viewport's limit, I guess one possible way to
provide an acceptable UX to people with some disabilities and in fact
to all readers is the following one: *if* a multicolumned element's
height is higher than the viewport's height, I think it should be the
browser's responsability to allow the user to toggle multicolumns off.
And back on if that's the user wants.

Adding an informative note to the spec saying "warning, a columned
element higher than the viewport poses accessibility issues" is a
strict minimum here but, again, given the wide variety of viewports
we have around us, I'm not sure it's enough. I have a strong preference
for a solution allowing users to deal with columned content IF the
issue appears...

PS: this issue was mentioned by a speaker at the ParisWeb conference
     this morning
Received on Friday, 15 October 2010 10:21:05 UTC

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