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Re: Technique: Use MAP to identify navigation mechanisms

From: <thatch@us.ibm.com>
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 12:14:19 -0500
To: Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org, pjenkins@us.ibm.com
Message-ID: <852567AA.005F5B80.00@d54mta08.raleigh.ibm.com>

I believe that the most serious impedement to access to commercial web content
today is the inability to identify the main content of a non-frames page. I say
non-frames, because if the frames pages are well coded (which in general they
are not) frames are a solution. Gregg and others have said that this problem is
addressed by checkpoint 12.3 but it doesn't clearly address it, in my opinion.
The technique does not address the problem.

Here is my version of the problem. Across the top are a bunch of links for
global site navigation, and several ads and images. Down the side, usually right
side, are many more links and notes and topics, and navigation entries.  Then
the main content, the headlined story, the search results, on the bottom right
three quarters of the screen.

If you listen to the whole page with a screen reader or Home Page Reader, you
hear all the top panel with global navigation and ads. You hear all the section
navigation down the right. Finally you hear the main content. The first time at
the site, maybe you want to hear all that. I say "Maybe." I certainly never read
all that stuff, but with HPR I have to listen to it.

There are anecdotal solutions for this when browsing with some systems. For
example, Window-eyes allows the user to skip to the next non-active (normal)
text. This can be very effective when all the junk is links and the main content
is not! HPR automatically sikps over maps and select menus unless stopped.

As far as author solutions, I know of only one that has been proposed so far.
"Skip navitaion," or "skip to main content" first appeared on the American
Council of the Blind site (www.acb.org) and is on our Special Needs System site
(www.ibm.com/sns). We are trying to get it in all IBM sites. In our case, the
link is attached to an insignificant graphic. (Did I just say the graphic for
IBM is insignificant?)

Because HPR skips over maps, if all navigation were presented by maps, it would
be better. But since IE5 doesn't present alt text for maps, it is not a solution
for screen readers today. I do worry about solutions that will work today.

I think instead of stressing maps, the technique should suggest placing skip
links, "skip over global navigation links," "skip over advertising" (ha!), "skip
over left panel navigation," etc.

Jim Thatcher
IBM Special Needs Systems

Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org> on 07/09/99 12:04:22 PM

To:   w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
cc:    (bcc: James Thatcher/Austin/IBM)
Subject:  Technique: Use MAP to identify navigation mechanisms


In the User Agent Working Group, we're talking what user agents can
do to help users navigate, including making navigation mechanisms
readily available. I am charged with an action to propose a technique
for the Web Content Techniques: use MAP to create navigation bars/group
related links.

In the 5 May Techniques document, section 4.6.1 ("Grouping and
bypassing links") [1], an example shows <P class="nav">. Should
use the following markup instead?

<MAP name="map1">
   <P>Navigate the site:
      <A href=".." shape="rect"   coords="..">Access Guide</a> |
      <A href=".." shape="rect"   coords="..">Go</A>           |
      <A href=".." shape="circle" coords="..">Search</A>       |
      <A href=".." shape="poly"   coords="..">Top Ten</A>

User agents may assume that the MAP element is used to create
navigation mechanisms (whether image maps or more accessible
ones with rich content).

 - Ian

[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT-TECHS/#group-bypass

Ian Jacobs (jacobs@w3.org)   http://www.w3.org/People/Jacobs
Tel/Fax:                     +1 212 684-1814
Received on Saturday, 10 July 1999 13:21:49 UTC

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