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Re: [WSG] HTML 4.01 MAP element prevents links from displaying using a screen reader

From: Sandra Vassallo <S.Vassallo@e-bility.com>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2008 12:12:29 +1000
Message-ID: <4868410D.6010208@e-bility.com>
To: wsg@webstandardsgroup.org
CC: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org


A good news story... The earlier problem of navigation links (using the 
html map element) not displaying in Firefox when accessed via a screen 
reader seems to have been resolved. The report to bugzilla was quickly 
actioned  and is now finished - thanks to open source developers Marco 
Zehe, Alexander Surkov and Aaron Leventhal who have been working on a 
patch for the last 8 weeks.

Currently, it is in the development releases of 3.1a1pre ... the next 
major update to Firefox is tentatively due in Q1/2009 and it is likely 
to be approved for full release as part of version 3.0.1 (all signs at 
this stage are promising, so fingers crossed)

A log of the development activity is at



Sandra Vassallo wrote:
> Hi,
> I recently come across a problem in Firefox with screen readers (Jaws 
> and Window Eyes) when using the HTML 4.01 MAP element to group links, 
> and thought it would be of interest to others on the list who may be 
> using it as well. It also affects Braillenote's Keyweb.
> The technique is suggested in WCAG 1.0 and the recent WCAG 2.0 Candidate 
> Recommendation.
> www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10-HTML-TECHS/#group-bypass
> www.w3.org/TR/2004/WD-WCAG20-HTML-TECHS-20041119/#linkgroups and www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20-HTML-TECHS/H50.html
> Websites using the map element seem to be affected when a screen reader 
> virtualises the page in Firefox.
> When user testing in Firefox 2 with Jaws 9, all the navigation links 
> were missing from the virtual buffer. However, turning the virtual 
> cursor off, the user could tab between all the links (including the 
> missing ones). The same page viewed in IE using a screen reader 
> displayed all links.
> If you would like to try it out there is a test page at: 
> www.e-bility.com/braillespace/bwp/test.php
> After deleting the map element from the markup all the links were 
> visible (audible/feelable) with Firefox/Jaws and Braillenote's Keyweb.
> www.e-bility.com/braillespace/bwp/
> I'd be interested to know if anyone else has feedback on this issue. 
> I've reported it to Bugzilla and Bruce Maguire has posted a message on 
> the JAWS Beta forum, whose members suggested the map element may be the 
> problem. GW Micro are in the loop as well.
> https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=431615
> Firefox is becoming increasingly popular and people are now starting to 
> use it with screen readers. The Keyweb browser (although very basic and 
> under-developed) is also used by a lot of people because it is installed 
> on Braillenote.
> If it is a software problem, then for the time being it seems best to 
> avoid the MAP element and use a list, div, headings (visible or 
> positioned off-screen) to help people understand link relationships and 
> find or skip over navigation groups quickly.
> Cheers,
> Sandra.


Sandra Vassallo
e-Bility Inclusive IT
Received on Monday, 30 June 2008 02:13:33 UTC

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