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[Fwd: Websites that look keyboard friendly but are not]

From: David Poehlman <poehlman@clark.net>
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000 16:35:16 -0400
Message-ID: <38F62F84.5FF26EA7@clark.net>
To: wai-ig list <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
I thought this discussion might tie in.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Websites that look keyboard friendly but are not
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000 16:24:19 -0400
From: Joseph Norton <jnorton@VOL.COM>
Reply-To: Joseph Norton <jnorton@VOL.COM>

Hi All:

Recently, I ran across a web site that acts like you can use it with IE
and maybe even with lynx under certain circumstances (i.e. if you have SSL
support), however, it turns out that it does not work at all well for
keyboard users.  The reason is that the "submit" button in the form used
also looks at the mouse coordinates of the image shown for the
"submit" button and, depending upon the coordinates of the mouse on the
picture, the site takes different actions.

The site I am referring to is:


a supplier of animated greetings.  In some of the electronic greeting
cards, they will play the recipient's name as part of the greeting.  This
is done by incorporating a sound file containing the recipient's first
name (e.g. joseph.aif) into the downloadable card.  In order to specify
the first name, however, you must click on the first letter of the
recipient's name.  Rather than giving you a list of letters in the form of
links or buttons, they load a map showing the letters of the
alphabet.  When you click on a particular letter, your Web browser sends
the coordinates in the image where you clicked, and, based upon those
coordinates, the site sends back a page with the propper list of names for
inclusion in the card.  I discovered this by looking at the resulting url
that Internet Explorer put in the address box after I clicked on the
particular letter I wanted (well, I had to have sighted help for this).

Now, the plot thickens.  Even after you get the help you need (or hack the
url so that the propper coordinates are sent for the letter of the
alphabet you need), you must click on a button to let the site know you
are finished.  Turns out that they even look at the position of your mouse
within the button you click on to do that.  Now, if you're using keyboard
input, the coordinates sent are "0,0".  They don't seem to like that and
you never get anywhere.  I had to tell my screen-reader to put the mouse
pointer on the button so I could"click" it and give them some kind of
coordinates other than 0,0.

This might explain why I couldn't manage to order a copy of the Windows 98
2nd edition upgrade CD-Rom from Microsoft.  Maybe if I had gotten some
help to actually move my mouse over to the button and really click on it
(or get the screen-reader to move the pointer on top of it) instead of
using the keyboard, I could have done it.  This, however, seems
unnecessary in many situations and can be a pain for a non-mouse user.

Oh well, it's been a fun learning experience anyway.  Just remember this
if you ever hit a site that seems to work just fine with keyboard use,
but, fails for no other apparent reason.

73 for now.
Received on Thursday, 13 April 2000 16:35:31 UTC

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