Re: FORMAL OBJECTION (was RE: Working Group Decision on ISSUE-204 aria-hidden)

There's also a large set of users/use.cases where the a11y accomodation
is input side, not output side. A simple example is the mouth-stick user
who requires sticky keys, and not much else. They will
TAB/otherwise.navigate into a morase of content that is not displayed on

Bottom line that seems to have been missed is that there are users who
use the same display as non a11y, but do not use--cannot use pointing
devices. These are some of the users that will wander into the
structural focus points for which no display exists.


Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis writes:
> On Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 5:57 PM, Maciej Stachowiak <> wrote:
> > I believe my remark below is equally applicable to your comment. To my understanding as an implementor, hidden content can be exposed to assistive technologies (including screen readers such as VoiceOver) without exposing it to the TAB cycle for keyboard users. Thus, non-screen-reader users making use of the keyboard will not experience a problem, as they will not tab into invisible content. My understanding of the specific concern raised by John, both in his survey comment and in his formal objection below, is that exposing content with full semantics to assistive technologies will inevitably put it in the tab cycle, thus leading to the harm both of you are worried about, namely sighted keyboard users tabbing into invisible content. The point of information I wanted to provide is that it does not necessarily have this effect, for either screen reader users, or users viewing the screen and navigating with the keyboard.
> I think the big disconnect in this conversation may be that assistive
> technology often uses accessibility APIs to provide a user experience
> that extends and depends upon, rather than simply replacing, the base
> user experience provided by the browser. The concern here, I think, is
> that if the long description remains visually hidden there is no user
> experience to extend.
> Consider a person with partial sight using VoiceOver. The object under
> the VoiceOver cursor is indicated visually (as well as being spoken or
> brailled) using a visual indicator (a black rectangle). If the
> VoiceOver cursor descended into a subtree in the accessibility
> hierarchy that has no equivalent in the visual layout, what would the
> black rectangle be drawn around?
> A naive implementation would be for VoiceOver to draw it around the
> object described. This has the disadvantage that the user cannot
> visually distinguish between focus on different parts of the complex
> long description. For example, if the long description contained
> multiple controls, you would not be able to tell (visually), which
> control would be activated. This would be a major departure from the
> general user experience of using mixed aural/braille and video output.
> A more sophisticated implementation would be for VoiceOver to draw an
> overlay, perhaps similar to the existing Item Chooser, that exposes
> the structure, content, and functionality of the long description
> visually. I'm guessing this is what Maciej is envisaging.
> Different combinations of user agents and assistive technology could
> divide responsibility for maintaining visible focus in dfferent. For
> example, maybe Internet Explorer might provide an accessibility API
> method on the described object to navigate to a hidden long
> description. When called by an AT such as JAWS, Internet Explorer
> would render an overlay exposing the structure, content, and
> functionality of the long description. JAWS would then draw focus
> indicators into the overlay rendered by Internet Explorer.
> The WG needs to recognise that a lot of different software would need
> to be updated for this to work and that many critical vendors aren't
> really represented here. For example, NVDA tends to adopt a minimal
> approach to extending the base experience. Rendering an overlay itself
> would be quite a departure. So I think we're looking at a major
> implementation commitment to make it work.
> (I think there are other big difficulties here, like the fact that
> @aria-describedby isn't suited for pointing to long descriptions at
> all since it is used to populate a plain text "accessibility
> description" field in accessibility APIs.)
> --
> Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis


Janina Sajka,	Phone:	+1.443.300.2200

The Linux Foundation
Chair, Open Accessibility:

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
Chair,	Protocols & Formats
	Indie UI

Received on Tuesday, 14 August 2012 19:33:09 UTC