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Re: HTML5 DL Element vs. WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria

From: Ramón Corominas <listas@ramoncorominas.com>
Date: Sat, 08 Feb 2014 20:09:42 +0100
Message-ID: <52F680F6.3080301@ramoncorominas.com>
To: Steve Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
CC: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Hi, Steve.

Maybe you only find "anecdotical assertions" because the usage of 
definition lists is more or less anecdotical, too; or maybe because they 
are generally used for simple things like name-value pairs, that do not 
cause severe barriers.

Anyway, I'm not saying that they are always problematic, what I'm saying 
is that they are not usable unless in these simple situations, and that 
for those things we could use other structures with better support. 
Users would probably not say that there is a problem in a page without 
headings (nor landmarks), or in a menu without list markup, but they 
will not be able to browse the page so efficiently.

Similarly, if a definition list contains other lists, it won't be 
navigable in an efficient way, and the relationships between "term" and 
"definition" tend to get lost; and anyway the structure of multiple 
definitions per term is never conveyed to current screen readers, so I 
think they are simply not accessibility supported and do not meet CR #4, 
which I do consider a problem.

For example, using JAWS I can know that the Glossary of WCAG 2.0 
contains 117 terms -NVDA and VoiceOver say "166 elements"-, but I cannot 
find any efficient way to browse the different terms or even distinguish 
one term from the next unambiguously.

In any case, I admit there is no data that can backup that definition 
lists are a problem, but I guess that there is also no data that can 
backup the contrary. I guess that there is no data at all about real 
world accessibility/usability of definition lists.

That said, since the semantics of the original "definition" list has 
changed to something more like a "description" list, it is possible that 
it would be a useful structure if screen readers had support.

Probably the first step would be to not announce the list as a 
"definition" list... Sure that Michael Cooper is a good editor, but I 
would not say that he is the *definition* of "Editor" <wink>


Steve wrote:

> So far I have only seen anecdotal assertions that definition lists are a 
> problem for screen reader users, if they are problematic it would be 
> useful to have some actual data to back this up.
>     Would it be possible to know how many of this 10% of pages are using
>     definition lists *properly*?
> I am collecting URLs so that those who are interested can do take  a look.
> --
> Regards
> SteveF
> HTML 5.1 <http://www.w3.org/html/wg/drafts/html/master/>

Ramón Corominas
Accessibility specialist
Technosite - Fundación ONCE
E: rcorominas@technosite.es
T: @ramoncorominas
P: +34 91 121 0330
W: http://technosite.es
Received on Saturday, 8 February 2014 19:10:24 UTC

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