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RE: Auto-Tabbing - Is this ever allowed?

From: Mattes, Kurt X1 <Kurt.X1.Mattes@chase.com>
Date: Fri, 29 May 2015 12:28:19 +0000
To: "lwatson@paciellogroup.com" <lwatson@paciellogroup.com>, "'Phill Jenkins'" <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>
CC: "'Jim Allan'" <jimallan@tsbvi.edu>, "'WAI-IG'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <19308F86CE22B44AB0CD9E74B1B03BAA500C1347@SBECMX013.exchad.jpmchase.net>
The conversation topic has shifted from auto-tabbing to focus location on page load. Common point between the two seems to be one person (a designer) thinking they know what is best for another person (a user.)

Auto-tabbing is problematic for everyone if for no reason other than lack of consistency across apps and sometimes even within the same app. Consistency may be the same compelling reason to not place focus anywhere other than where the browser naturally places it when a web page loads.

The key take-away from this conversation may lie in giving the user more control. After all it is the user and only the user who knows what is best for the user. Better keyboard navigation features for all and technologies that allow users a way to configure how they want something to work, like turning auto-tabbing on or off should be a key part of tomorrow's solutions. Tomorrow's solutions begin today. Léonie's point about campaigning browser vendors should be extended to include operating system vendors and perhaps go beyond that.

Technology can and already does help individual users understand and "set" what is best for them. For example, Automated Teller Machines (ATM) for some banks 'learn' how a person uses it most often and over time modify what is presented when that person authenticates. Other banks allow users to go online and set what will be shown on some of the ATM screens. User control rather than user controlled needs to be a part of what comes next. And it will also provide better ways to make the world more accessible for all.

Meanwhile, to Mary, the person who started this discussion, my advice is to do all you can to convince your stakeholders that auto-tabbing is a bad idea. As you initially pointed out Success Criteria 3.2.2 applies. Advising the user about the automatic change of context should be done in a way that is both visible and programmatically determinable. Perhaps the design change to provide this information visibly will be enough to convince them that auto-tabbing is not so user friendly.

Kurt Mattes
VP - eCAT ADA Controls | JPMorgan Chase

From: Léonie Watson [mailto:lwatson@paciellogroup.com]
Sent: Friday, May 29, 2015 4:44 AM
To: 'Phill Jenkins'
Cc: 'Jim Allan'; 'WAI-IG'
Subject: RE: Auto-Tabbing - Is this ever allowed?

From: Phill Jenkins [mailto:pjenkins@us.ibm.com]
Sent: 28 May 2015 23:37
I thought there was some initial consensus with using the Google home page and the Log-in page example that the keyboard focus placement in the entry field was best practice. Are you suggesting the keyboard focus be placed somewhere else?  Where?

I think leaving focus alone so that people get a consistent experience makes sense. Manipulating focus is unexpected behaviour, and that actually makes people work harder instead of making things easier.

It isn't even close to being a convention in the situations you mention above, let alone on the web in general. So people find themselves in a part of the page they weren't expecting to be in. For a keyboard user that may mean extra keystrokes to get where they really wanted to go, for a screen reader/magnifier user it may mean completely missed content, for someone with a cognitive disability it may mean enough of an unexpected disruption it stops them from completing any task.

Leaving focus at the top of the page is the expected convention. People understand it, are familiar with it, and have strategies for navigating where they want to go based on that understanding.


Léonie Watson - Senior accessibility engineer
@LeonieWatson @PacielloGroup PacielloGroup.com

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Received on Friday, 29 May 2015 12:28:59 UTC

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