Re: DHTML menus and accessibility

>* Do current screen readers even recognize when a DHTML menu drops down?

First of all, you assume that screen readers are activating the 
menus.  Most DHTML "menus" are activated by a mouseover.  Screen reader 
users do not use the mouse, they use the keyboard.  Therefore, the first 
step to making DHTML menus accessible to screen readers is to not only 
activate them from a mouseover but also when they receive focus from a 
keyboard action.

Secondly, you assume that you have to use images.  Depending on the look 
you are trying to achieve, you may or may not be able to use style 
sheets.  This is a minor point.

Thirdly, and most importantly, as Dave Woolley responded, you need to make 
sure that the page is usable without the DHTML.

I have documented a case study that I played with last year at

It is by no means an exhaustive list and several open issues exist. I 
encourage people to play with the examples given in the site to:
1. break them and record how they break
2. find better ways to do them
3. let me know about other common practices that we need to investigate.

This information will eventually end up in a chapter of the WCAG Techniques 


>* If it contains ALTs and TITLEs, can the screen reader navigate it? What 
>about the fake close boxes used in some such menus? Will the screen reader 
>even recognize the existence of that close box, given that there is no 
>standardized data format to mark up a close box as such?
>If you're interested in looking at a few examples of DHTML navigation, 
>I've covered the topic extensively on the NUblog Weblog on online content:
>(Those discussions are fully accessible, with ALTs, TITLEs, and-- wait for 
>it!-- LONGDESCs on any graphical elements.)
>Any wisdom to share on how screen readers handle DHTML navigation?
>Please reply direct, and Cc: to the list.
>    Joe Clark |
>    Taste | Acumen | Content -- <>
>    (Weblog on online content: <>)
> | |

wendy a chisholm
world wide web consortium
web accessibility initiative
madison, wi usa
tel: +1 608 663 6346

Received on Thursday, 17 August 2000 11:26:43 UTC