W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-webevents@w3.org > October to December 2010

Accessible interactions with simple switch devices

From: Steve Lee <steve.lee@oucs.ox.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2010 09:30:14 +0100
Message-ID: <AANLkTinA8v+k4hfDHw3T_oAD8L7MZsuHLTSET7dhr-c_@mail.gmail.com>
To: public-webevents@w3.org
I'm very pleased to see this work group starting as it's a real hot
topic ;-) I'm coming at it from an open accessibility angle with a
keen interest in accessibility of mobile devices and especially web
apps. So it's very good to see accessibility issues mentioned
explicitly in the

One observation is that the WG name of 'Web Events' indicates a wider
scope that mentioned in the charter. In particular I'm interested in
interactions for people with motor impairments who often use simple
switch devices and scanning interactions. While these are very
inefficient and we're desperate for innovation, they are currently
popular along with alternatives like eyepointing which map to pointer
events as far as browsers are concerned. Switch + scanning usually
involves an intermediate selection UI that then maps to standard
events but there are alternatives such as the direct scanning approach
using a11y APIs that we explored in Jambu [1].

I also believe there is a case for handling switch events directly in
the wep app as it allows greater flexibility. For Maavis [2] we
implemented scanning in the app itself. Maavis is currently a Mozzila
XUL rich client application but we want make it a web app and one of
the issues is handling switch events. I tried overriding standard DOM
events but unless I wanted to build a custom Firefox with enhanced
event model it was not possible to support what was needed. So another
mechanism is used, outside DOM events. This obviously won't be
possible in a web app.

Currently such devices are not 1st class as far as platforms are
concerned, much as with touch interfaces where until very recently.
They usually appear as USB HID devices, for example on WIndows they
appear as games controllers. Accordingly Browser do not support them
directly either.

Any way the 'ask' I leading up to is - can simple switch device events
be included in scope for this WG?

On another topic I like the events abstraction layer model and think
it makes sense - but as always the test will come with implementation
and use. Interestingly a group us starting thinking along similar
lines for the accessible desktop APIs a while back [3].

I'm glad to be involved with this WG

1: http://jambu.fullmeasure.co.uk/
2: http://maavis.fullmeasure.co.uk/
3: http://groups.google.com/group/osk-ng

Full Measure - open source accessibility - http://fullmeasure.co.uk
OSS Watch - open source advisory service - http://oss-watch.ac.uk
Received on Saturday, 30 October 2010 15:49:43 UTC

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