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Re: assistive tech and layout tables

From: <jukka.korpela@tieke.fi>
Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 11:14:20 +0200
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <OFECBDACDB.B1445B29-ONC2256B6B.0028C95D@tieke.fi>

Al Gilman wrote:

> 1.  The conventional wisdom is that it is not that hard
> to do programming tricks - -

Sorry, I have great difficulties in seeing your point (and I guess I would
have even greater difficulties if I were using a speech-based E-mail
client), since it is far from obvious what your comments relate to. Quoting
first a relevant sentence or two would make things much easier.

I'll try to comment on those parts that I understood as relating to what I
had written:

> But ACCESSKEY is worth working with.

Well, to some extent, yes. Their usefulness in authoring for the WWW is
seriously limited by defective or missing implementations and lack of
conventions on accesskey assignments.
(Details: http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/forms/accesskey.html )

>>Your assumption that the answer is "no" sounds correct, since there
>>is no HTML markup or CSS properties for suggesting a reading order,
> Have you heard of TABINDEX?

Yes. It is supposed to set a tabbing order. And "the tabbing order defines
the order in which elements will receive focus when navigated by the user
via the keyboard". I think the question was about reading order. (Upon
tabbing, a user agent could naturally read aloud the item tabbed to. But
this is quite different from a user agent's normal presentation a page.
Besides, the tabindex attribute is allowed for a fairly limited set of
elements only.)

> This is simple.  If there is hierarchical structure, there should be
> hierarchical navigation.  At all scales.

Well yes, but the question is whether it is a user agent's responsibility
to let the user navigate hierarchically, according to the hierarchy
indicated in the HTML markup, or whether documents should carry
navigational tools of their own. There are serious arguments in favor of
the former, as the basic approach. For example, the possibility of skipping
the rest of a paragraph, after hearing some initial part thereof, requires
two things: <p> markup in the document, and a user agent that implements
suitable interaction for dealing with paragraphs so marked. This is much
better than putting links "skip the rest of this paragraph" inside a

> Most of the comment I have heard from consumers is to consider sites
> which have gone beyond one skip link to be overkill to the point of
> absurdity.

I haven't observed examples of such sites, and I have difficulties in
imagining how e.g. two links, one skipping over general site navigation and
another skipping a page's table of content as well, would be _overkill_.
Not that I'd regard it as necessary.

> However, a link from the foot to the head is welcome.

What would that mean? As far as I know, all user agents provide some
relatively simple way of jumping to the beginning. Do you mean that should
be duplicated?

>> All these "skip over" links are workarounds, not solutions. It is
>> symptomatic that we find it necessary to use _verbs_. Cool links are
>> nouns or noun phrases, not verbs, since they refer to something, instead
>> of telling to do this or that. (Actually, it isn't always necessary
>> to use verbs for "skip over" links; "main content" or something
>> like that might be better.)
> This is an elitist fetish

Thanks. (It was a compliment, wasn't it? I'm not that familiar with Greek,
you know. :-))

> "Click here" is the native language of the Web.  Get over it.

Yes, I think we're all trying to get over the current inaccessibilities.

> This is a good point.  If you must use ASCII art, that merits a skip
> But the structure should be in the page and the verbs in the browser.
> ACCESSKEY is as close as we come today.

In an ideal world, user agents would automatically recognize e.g. <pre>
elements as problematic to their operating conditions and would provide
adequate alerts and skipping tools. In this less than perfect world, an
explicit skip link is what works, and I don't see how accesskey could help
with that.

Jukka K. Korpela, erityisasiantuntija / senior adviser
TIEKE Tietoyhteiskunnan kehittämiskeskus ry
Finnish Information Society Development Centre
Salomonkatu 17 A, 10th floor, FIN-00100 HELSINKI, FINLAND
Phone: +358 9 4763 0397 Fax: +358 9 4763 0399
http://www.tieke.fi  jukka.korpela@tieke.fi
Received on Monday, 25 February 2002 04:16:34 UTC

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