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Re: advice sought for design of a search facility for a sub-site

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2002 14:34:34 -0500
Message-Id: <200201221934.OAA4834808@smtp1.mail.iamworld.net>
To: EDixon@rnib.org.uk, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
At 11:12 AM 2002-01-22 , EDixon@rnib.org.uk wrote:
>If you have a special area of a site that is distinct from the rest of the
>site for example a sub-site then what is the most usable and accessible way
>to display a search facility  and search results that offers a scoped
>Please refer to the following two links for examples of a search facility
>offering a scoped search:
>I have carried out an evaluation on both radio buttons searches and combo
>box search with 25 users and have found that the combo box search was shown
>to be easier to use for people with serious sight problems and learning
>difficulties. I have been informed that similar tests have been carried out
>with very different findings therefore any comments would be greatly

AG:: I don't understand a couple of things.

But first, thank you for offering side by side code samples to make your
question concrete.  I hope lots of people will follow your example.

I don't understand how you did the user testing given that the radio button
code wouldn't work.  The two buttons have to have the same name and different
values for the user selection to be communicated to the server.

So, with a few more fiddles, where the code sample says

      <td align="right"> <b>Search:</b> Online Shop
<input type="radio" name="radiobutton" value="radiobutton">
<input type="radio" name="radiobutton" value="radiobutton">

Consider instead it could say

      <td align="right"> <strong>Search:</strong>
<input id="abcd0001" type="radio" name="searchScopeConstraint"
 <label for="abcd0001">Online Shop</label>
<input id="abcd0002" type="radio" name="searchScopeConstraint"
<label for="abcd0002">RNIB</label>

My impression is that the combo box is on the whole the superior solution. 
Historically there was a feature added to Lynx to transform select elements
into series of radio buttons but this was in part because of the low level of
communication between the curses screen and the DOS screen readers of the day. 
In today's screen reader climate it would appear that is a step backwards for
most users.

Contemporary screen readers generally deal effectively with the opening and
closing of the list box also known as select element if I understand correctly.

The one thing to be warned about is to avoid using onChange events in the
select element.

A good model to benchmark your work against is the search interface to the
archives at Google Groups.  I am not saying mimic it in all particulars but if
you start there you will be in close proximity to where you want to wind up.

I also don't understand the comment about how there is not code space for
enough labels for the radio buttons.  See the above example for one possible

However, see also Jim Thatchers's reasoning for why he suggests people ignore
LABEL and just TITLE the elements with what you want to say.

[apologies for not providing links, it's just a matter of a little time with
Google but I don't have that time right now.]

Note I put the labels after the buttons as per visual convention.  According to
Thatch's report this is not a problem, and the screen readers read at least
checkboxes that way regardless of the textual order.  This point is currently
an open issue in the development of WCAG 2.0.  But the direction of change is
to allow the visual order and ensure association of label and control via the
markup.  The debate is about how fast or soon to change what the authors are
asked to do.


>Liz Dixon
>iSys Analyst Evaluator, RNIB 
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Received on Tuesday, 22 January 2002 14:36:12 UTC

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