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ARIA markup and "dual purpose menus"RE: Minutes PF 12 March 2014

From: Birkir Gunnarsson <birkir.gunnarsson@deque.com>
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2014 15:07:09 -0400
To: "'PF'" <public-pfwg@w3.org>
Message-ID: <03ed01cf4926$96b36d80$c41a4880$@deque.com>
Greetings everyone.

I am new to the list, and hope to get much more involved in meetings and
exchanges starting this week.
Travel, projects and CSUN has held me back.
I am contemplating the use of aria markup for menus where the top menuitem
itself is a link.
Brian Garaventa calls these "Dual purpose menus".
Imagine, if you will, a menubar with top level menus "products" "services"
and "downloads".
These are top level items with submenus that appear when you move focus to
them (onFocus or onHover).
But if you activate them with the enter key they take you to a different
page.
This causes confusion for screen reader users in particular.
One obvious solution is to create a layer of top level items that are
Javascript links which, when you activate them with the enter key' open the
submenus.
The current link  to the page would be first menuitem in that submenu.
This clears up the interaction pattern for screen readers certainly, but it
adds a whole layer of keyboard interaction for everyone else, that appears
to be clumsy and unnecessary.
Would it be possible to map an item as both a menuitem and a link, and have
screen readers responsible for interpreting that as having the menuitem role
be activated first (if user needs to press enter on the element to activate
the forms mode, without activating the link, this is similar to the current
screen reader interpretation of tabs).

One could force screen reader forms mode by using role="application" on a
div around the menu structure, which is not a very popular thing to do, even
when possible.
One could also 
- do away with the menu markup altogether, 
- Keep all content visible to screen readers )hidden off-screen until focus
is received for everyone else),
- implement a Javascript arrow key navigation of the menus 
- and tell user to manually turn off the screen reader document mode.

That rather does away with the elegance and simplicity of the menubar/menu
structure, which is extremely helpful to users when website contain hundreds
of links.
(all of this is assuming of course that the developer has created Javascript
arrow key navigation that corresponds to the keyboard interaction of a
Windows menubar).

Any thoughts or a link to previous discussions on this would be most
welcome.
Thanks
-Birkir
Received on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 19:08:24 UTC

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