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new mail archives format (was Re: EOWG Agenda, Jan 7, 2000)

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
Date: Fri, 07 Jan 2000 11:24:15 -0500
Message-Id: <4.1.20000107103347.00ba9e80@pop3.concentric.net>
To: Judy Brewer <jbrewer@w3.org>
Cc: WAI Education & Outreach Working Group <w3c-wai-eo@w3.org>, WAI Interest Group Emailing List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, webmaster@w3.org
aloha, judy!

in the agenda announcement for the 7 january 2000 EO telecon, you wrote:

Remember you can always check the EOWG archives, at 
try out the new archive format.

to which i reply that i really dislike the new format, as it makes it
impossible for anyone using speech output alone to navigate the archive via
a list of links, as there is no means of differentiating between the
boilerplate hyperlink text for "date", "thread", "author", and "subject"...
 there are currently nine hyperlinks with the hyperlink text "date", nine
with the hyperlink text "thread", nine with the hyperlink text "author",
and nine with the hyperlink text "subject" listed in a list of links for
the EO mail archive -- how am i to differentiate between them?

i vastly preferred the old introductory format, where i could make sense of
the archive divisions, such as:

Since January 2000
October to December 1999
July to September 1999

when navigating via a list of links, and _then_ choose to have the messages
listed by date, thread, author, or subject...

would it be possible to have both interfaces available?  would it also be
possible to add semantic information to the boilerplate hyperlink text via
the use of the TITLE attribute, so that rather than being encoded as:

<a href="1999OctDec/">date</a>
<a href="1999OctDec/thread.html">thread</a>
<a href="1999OctDec/author.html">author</a>
<a href="1999OctDec/subject.html">subject</a>

the link would be encoded thus:

<a href="1999OctDec/" 
	title="Messages from October to December 1999 sorted by date"
<a href="1999OctDec/thread.html" 
	title="Messages from October to December 1999 sorted by thread"
<a href="1999OctDec/author.html" 
	title="Messages from October to December 1999 sorted by author"
<a href="1999OctDec/subject.html" 
	title="Messages from October to December 1999 sorted by subject"

implementation of the latter suggestion would (to a certain extent) reduce
the need for offering an alternative view -- read: providing the option to
view the archive using the old interface -- provided, of course, that one's
UA and/or AT is capable of exposing to the user titles that have been
defined for hyperlinks, either through a list of links or -- ideally, and
-- by serial navigation (i.e. tabbing from link to link)...

in any event, this touches on one of my personal crusades -- the attempt to
get page authors to use semantically sensible -- and, wherever possible,
unique -- hyperlink text for every hyperlink on a page...  by semantically
sensible, i mean hyperlink text which does NOT rely on surrounding
contextual information ...

additionally, i'm troubled by the fact that, by violating WCAG Checkpoint
13.1, which states,

13.1 Clearly identify the target of each link. [Priority 2]
Link text should be meaningful enough to make sense when read out of
context -- either on its own or as part of a sequence of links. Link text
should also be terse. For example, in HTML, write "Information about
version 4.3" instead of "click here". In addition to clear link text,
content developers may further clarify the target of a link with an
informative link title (e.g., in HTML, the "title" attribute). 

the new archive format could only obtain a Single-A conformance rating, and
i think it behooves W3C space to be (at least) Double-A compliant...

which, brings me to the Webmaster FAQ, located at:

this page is an accessibility nightmare, for when it is navigated via the
keyboard using speech (JFW 3.5, to be precise), all that is echoed is:

"W3C Homepage visited link"
"FAQ link"
"Display button"
"Display button"
"Display button"
"Display button"
"Display button"
"Display button"
"Display button"
"Display button"
"Display button"

(note: only the first 2 items listed above appear in a list of links for
the page)

since the forms that drive the FAQ page are embedded within a TABLE, one
cannot even obtain surrounding contextual information by using the "speak
entire line" screen-review command...  moving the display button cell from
the first item in the row to the last helps somewhat -- at least, when
using JFW 3.5 -- making it possible to use the "speak from left margin to
cursor" screen-review command to obtain the contextual information to
associate with the button, but that is far from an obvious solution for
anyone who is simply trying to use the page to report a problem...

all that being said, i DO like the addition of the search form to the mail

He that lives on Hope, dies farting
     -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1763
Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
   WebMaster and Minister of Propaganda, VICUG NYC
Received on Friday, 7 January 2000 11:17:57 UTC

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