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Need to create custom widgets

From: Sailesh Panchang <sailesh.panchang@deque.com>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2008 10:05:34 -0500
To: <public-pfwg-comments@w3.org>
Message-ID: <47c6cbcf.4ee9220a.1f7f.ffffdbdd@mx.google.com>

Refer to statement in introduction:
"New Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) render custom widgets, modeling rich
desktop components to perform UI updates without having to reload the entire
page - much like a graphical user interface (GUI)."

I hoped the primer would help me understand why it is necessary to design
custom widgets and then grapple with accessibility. 
Do developers design custom widgets because they cannot style anchors and
form controls to look the same on different browsers because of inconsistent
support for CSS? Does this prompt them to use images instead with JavaScript
code to mimic the functionality of anchors and form controls like submit
buttons, radio buttons and checkboxes etc.? (Would developers still design
custom widgets if CSS support in browsers was more uniform?  
 
In this respect, is ARIA trying to solve a problem created due to
inconsistent browser support for CSS?  

When custom widgets are designed, developers tend to attach only device
dependent events to the widgets. They are unaware of the need for or the
techniques required to make the widgets keyboard navigable. 

Today, it is possible to use elements like anchors and form controls with
CSS to create many widgets with the desired visual appearance. These are
natively keyboard accessible. For instance, an image link can be styled to
appear like tabs and the alt attributes can be dynamically set to announce
the role (which tab is selected). Alternatively, title attribute and hidden
text can be used for a text link. 
Example of alt for 3 image links styled to appear as tabs: Tab 1 of 3; Tab 2
of 3, selected tab; Tab 3 of 3.   

I would like the primer to discuss when it is appropriate to create custom
widgets. Admittedly there are some UI elements that need to be created for
the Web to mimic the desktop environment. At other times should developers
be urged to use UI elements that already exist?    
Sailesh Panchang
Accessibility Services Manager (Web and Software)
Deque Systems Inc. (www.deque.com)
11130 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite #140,
Reston VA 20191
Phone: 703-225-0380 (ext 105)
E-mail: sailesh.panchang@deque.com
Received on Thursday, 28 February 2008 14:57:38 UTC

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