RE: SC 2.4.5: links in context

I don't think we can say "not change the focus beyond reading the current
sentence or list item"  

Focus is a specific term in programming which denotes a relationship between
the user agent and the component it is accessing. Something either has focus
or it doesn't. I don't think "around the general area" would be considered
focus in any programming circles. 

I do however like John's proposal. At the very least, I think we should
remain silent on HTML techniques that do not provide a focus based
relationship between the link and a description of its destination. Because,
as Don at AOL has demonstrated, this is very easy to do, and it makes a big
difference for Screen Reader users. 

Some will say "The SC criteria as it is currently worded allows an unfocused
relationship between the description text and the link so we either need to
include an example in HTML or change the SC."

I don't think we need to be so dogmatic about it.  I don't think it has to
be either/or. And we have a precedent in our current guidelines that allows
for this silence.

Most of us agree that layout tables go against our principle of separating
presentation and content. We are not forbidding them but neither are we
blatantly presenting examples of layout tables in our "How to Meet". We
allow them but we want to discourage their use. 

I think this HTML link text issue is similar. Most of us would agree that it
is better to associate link text with its destination in a way that allows a
disabled person to access the information without scrolling all around every
link to figure out where it goes. 

This 2.4.5 success criterion, as it is now worded, is a change from the 1.0.
Yet to my knowledge the issues which drove the 1.0 committee to say "use
meaningful link text" have not changed. Unlike the advancements in table
order reading, the technology has not changed in any significant way in HTML
or the AT which accesses it. And as Sophia pointed out, it will not likely
be overcome in AT User agents. 

I am not trying to reopen the SC issue; I am simply asking that if we insist
on this change from the WCAG 1.0, we use common sense in our HTML examples.

Repetitive Strain Injury is a huge issue among screen reader users. I think
we should be trying to help people with disabilities, not create new
disabilities for them.

David MacDonald

...access empowers people
	...barriers disable them... 

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf
Of Gregg Vanderheiden
Sent: Sunday, February 26, 2006 12:39 AM
To: 'Makoto UEKI - Infoaxia, Inc. -';
Subject: RE: SC 2.4.5: links in context

Hi John
I think if you added "not change the focus beyond reading the current
sentence or list item"  it would make sense.  If they are focused on a
single word - or between two words I don't think your proposal works.  But
if you mean that "read current sentence" should be enough, or if it is a
list item, "read current list item",  then that seems to work.  And it
allows most common linking approaches to work.   I think.

Just tossing it out. Haven't given it a thorough think through. 


 -- ------------------------------ 
Gregg C Vanderheiden Ph.D. 
Professor - Ind. Engr. & BioMed Engr.
Director - Trace R & D Center 
University of Wisconsin-Madison 
The Player for my DSS sound file is at 

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf
Of Makoto UEKI - Infoaxia, Inc. -
Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2006 2:19 AM
Subject: Re: SC 2.4.5: links in context

Hi John,

Thanks for your proposal. I prefer the proposed wording.

John said,
In my opinion, the fact that additional keypresses are needed counts as a
serious accessibility barrier, especially since the situation occurs so

I agree with you. I've seen many screen reader users who have trouble with
the ambiguous links and finally give up at the user testings I conducted. I
can't ignore this situation and WCAG should address this issue. JIS
addressed this as it is a serious accessibility barrier.

In Japan, JAWS is not popular and the users are limited as it is very
expensive. Japanese popular screen readers such as PC-Talker and 95 Reader
can't create the link list. The users are tabbing through the links within a
page. I think the proposed wording would help such users to decide whether
they want to navigate there.


On Fri, 24 Feb 2006 16:37:50 -0600
"John M Slatin" <> wrote:

> This proposal is meant to address some of the concerns that Ben raised 
> in his response to my original post on this thread, and I think 
> itmight catch some of Makoto's concerns as well.
> <proposed>
> 2.4.5 When a link or other programmatic reference to a delivery unit 
> (or part of the same delivery unit) has focus, text describing the 
> destination is available without changing the focus.
> </proposed>
> The current wording is as follows:
> <current>
> 2.4.5 Each programmatic reference to another delivery unit or to 
> another location in the same delivery unit, is associated with text 
> describing the destination.
> </current>
> Rationale
> In some of the examples listed in the technique "Describing the 
> delivery unit in text immediately preceding the programmatic 
> reference" [1] and in my post on "SC 2.4.5: links in context" [2], 
> users encounter difficulty because they must move focus away from the 
> link in order to find out where the link goes. Additional key presses 
> are needed first to find the context and then to return to the link 
> and follow it. In my opinion, the fact that additional keypresses are 
> needed counts as a serious accessibility barrier, especially since the 
> situation occurs so often.
> I am not convinced that the current wording of the SC describes a 
> "functional outcome." I think the proposed wording addresses that 
> problem (it may create other problems, of course, and I'm sure someone 
> will point them out...)
> The proposed wording *could* be satisfied by AT, for example if the AT 
> grabbed the title from the link destination and reported it to the 
> user, or if it went and got the nearest heading before the  link, etc. 
> In those cases the author wouldn't need to do anything beyond what's 
> required by other SC (use heading markup to markup headings, provide 
> titles for delivery units, etc.).
> Ben mentioned that the phrase "description of the destination" might 
> not be quite right. I think he may be on to something, but I don't 
> have a proposal for that part yet.
> Thanks!
> John
> [1]
> y_ unit_in_text_immediately_preceding_the_programmatic_reference
> [2] 
> "Good design is accessible design." 
> John Slatin, Ph.D.
> Director, Accessibility Institute
> University of Texas at Austin
> FAC 248C
> 1 University Station G9600
> Austin, TX 78712
> ph 512-495-4288, f 512-495-4524
> email
> web
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ben Caldwell []
> Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 3:47 pm
> To: John M Slatin
> Cc:
> Subject: Re: SC 2.4.5: links in context
> Hi John,
> Thanks for digging up these examples. Good food for thought.
> One concern I have about these in general is with the assumption that 
> users should always be able to determine the destination of a link 
> from the links list dialog. While the links list is certainly a useful 
> tool for finding a link that you already know is there (especially on 
> frequently visited pages), I'm not convinced that all links should 
> make sense when read out context. As an author, there are certain 
> circumstances (news sites and blogs are prime examples) where the 
> question I ask is, why would it be helpful to know what the 
> destination of the link is if you haven't already read the content 
> that led up to that link?
> As you mentioned in your summary, I think there are some questions we 
> need to answer around one word links.
> Take the following example:
> <p>I wasn't awake this morning until I'd had my first cup of <a 
> href="">coffee</a>.</p>
>  From an accessibility perspective, is ambiguity about the destination 
> of the link "coffee" a barrier to accessibility? What if the link 
> pointed to the Equal Exchange Fair Trade site
> ( or wikipedia's entry on coffee
> ( instead of to Starbucks?
> AT implementation issues aside, it's great advice to make this link 
> more usable by adding a title attribute. However, my feeling is that 
> we're taking this success criterion a bit too far if what it means is 
> that a page containing only the sentence above does not conform to the 
> guidelines at Double-A.
> John suggested that linking from a single word embedded in the text of 
> a sentence would be a sufficient technique to meet this criterion 
> since the context of the sentence usually describes the destination. I 
> disagree. In the example above, the destination of the link isn't 
> described, so this would fail this success criterion as currently 
> written.
> To extend this example further, what about a page which contains only 
> the word "coffee" as a link? In this case, there isn't any text 
> associated with it that describes the destination. However, this is 
> not inaccessible, it's just ambiguous. If the user wants to know what 
> the destination is, they can simply follow the link and find out.
> Maybe the question is about the type of link we're talking about. Are 
> there certain types of links or situations where it's more important 
> that the destination be clearly described than others? I think part of 
> what we're wrestling with here is that there are examples where we'd 
> like to see clear link text at level 2 an other examples where it 
> seems more like good advice.
> Here's my take on the questions and examples from your summary:
> John M Slatin wrote:
> ...
> > The questions are:
> > (1) Do the instances I describe actually pass SC 2.4.5 *as it is 
> > currently written*?
> > (2) If you think they fail the SC *as currently written*, how would 
> > you explain why they fail?
> > (3) If you think the instances *pass* the SC *as currently written*, 
> > do you think the SC itself is OK as written, or should 
> > "programmatically associated" descriptions be required? (That is, 
> > should we rewrite the SC so that the instances in the attached
> document would fail)?
> <> - This is an odd construction and I had to 
> click on the link myself before I could figure out where it would take 
> me. I would have thought JAWS would provide a better clue about what 
> this link does by announcing that that the "more" link here is a "this 
> page link." I agree that determining the context for this link isn't 
> at all straightforward in this case, but would suggest that it's no 
> more confusing for AT users than it is for anyone else. In addition, 
> if the navigation bar had included headings or nested lists by 
> category, I think this would be a lot easier to figure out. So, as 
> 2.4.5 is currently written, I think this example would fail because 
> the destination of the link can not be inferred from context.
> <> - This is a great example of the type of site 
> where it makes very little sense to use the links list as a tool for 
> navigating the site. Once you're familiar with the way content on 
> slashdot is organized, a user might use the links list to quickly find 
> sections of interest (ex. games, media, etc.) but navigating by header 
> or reading the main content of the page in its entirety is a much 
> better strategy. I think this example should pass 2.4.5 as currently 
> written since the destination of the link is clear when the link is 
> read in context.
> <
> ol
> =yes&search_text=slatin%2C+john+m>
> For the UT library catalog, I'd suggest that this fails 1.3.1 based on 
> the fact that the links are in separate cells from the results in a 
> layout table. This is another very odd construction and I think as 
> currently structured, this one should fail 2.4.5. However, if this 
> were in a data table, I think it would be the other way around (though 
> the overall structure would still have a number of usability issues).
> <> - This is similar to the 
> slashdot example. I agree that it fails 1.3.1, but the purpose of the 
> page is to provide a series of sports headlines and article snippets.
> For those articles that are a bit on the long side, the "read more" 
> provides an easy way for users to pick up where they left off on a 
> separate page while minimizing the amount of screen real-estate a 
> single article can take up on the home page. The destination of the "read
> links in this example is the middle of the article being read, so I'm 
> not even sure what 2.4.5 would require in this case. Would it really 
> be helpful to have a title attribute here that said something like, 
> "paragraph 6 of Thursday wrap and Cohen reaction"? As currently 
> worded, I think this example should pass 2.4.5.
> <> I think this passes the SC as it is currently 
> written.
> Thanks again for providing these specific examples John. It has been 
> very helpful in thinking this through more carefully.
> Not sure what to recommend at this point. If there's a way to 
> categorize links that can't be understood because they don't have 
> surrounding context (ex. links in navigation bars or menus), I could 
> see addressing this at level 2 and moving the current criterion with 
> programmatic to level 3, but as written, I'm concerned that this 
> criterion is too restrictive for level 2.
> -Ben
> --
> Ben Caldwell | <> Trace Research and 
> Development Center <>

Received on Sunday, 26 February 2006 13:49:07 UTC