Beyond the page - applications

Hello all,

As I incorporate Andi's and Lisa's suggested edits into a new draft of the 
reformulation (stay tuned), it seems that a few checkpoints are primarily 
addressing pages of content rather than applications.  For example, 
"Provide an overview or summary of highly structured materials, such as 
tables and groups of user interface controls."

To me, "highly structured materials" implies objects that have been 
included in a page.  While I agree that summaries are important for tables 
of data, I don't know that a "summary" is needed for every group of form 
controls.  The "fieldset" and "legend" are ways in XHTML/HTML to provide 
contextual and grouping information for a group of controls.  This is 
usually enough. I have not seen a case where a summary is needed nor can I 
think of one.  Has anyone run into a group of form controls for which they 
needed a summary?  It would not surprise me that one exists, but I do not 
believe this is the norm.  Also, how would you provide a summary on a group 
of form controls in XHTML?

Why is it that a summary is needed for tables and not groups of form 
controls?  Frankly, I think it's because of the lack of tools being used to 
navigate tables.  Navigating forms has been widely available for a while. 
Navigating tables is still a new thing to people.  Therefore, I may need a 
map to help me get through the table.  This is primarily because tables can 
be navigated on a number of axes whereas forms are pretty straightforward.

Beyond XHTML/HTML and the page paradigm, should it become a common 
programming practice to provide a summary for a group of controls in an 
applet or a full-fledged application?  In Java, you can add an 
"accessibleDescription" to any object.  This means that if you have created 
a group of objects, they collectively become an object that you could 
attach a description to.  This description could be a summary.   I think 
the same argument applies to the Java app as to the XHTML page: if there 
are a number of axes in which to navigate an object and that navigation is 
not straightforward, a summary can act as a map to help the user 
through.  However, for most applications, I think a summary is overkill.

Therefore, I propose:
1. In regards to this specific checkpoint, we do not require that all 
groups of user interface objects have a summary.
2. We create an open issue to discuss which objects/elements/widgets should 
have summaries.
3. We create an open issue and discuss when summaries are required versus 
when they are recommended versus when they are a good thing to do.
4. In general, we need to keep applications and other technologies in 
mind.  It is easiest to think in terms of pages of XHTML since that is what 
we know best.  Others have raised this and I know we are aware, but I am 
sending a friendly reminder. <grin>

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

Received on Thursday, 28 September 2000 12:24:31 UTC