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Re: tabbing through the active elements

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 08:33:21 -0500
Message-Id: <199903121330.IAA2884660@relay.interim.iamworld.net>
To: Marja-Riitta Koivunen <marja@w3.org>
Cc: w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
At 03:02 PM 3/11/99 -0500, you wrote:
>I'm still struggling to understand the tasks that the users who are not
>able to see the page are trying to do when they use different kind of
>tabbings .
>Somebody said at the last teleconf that active elements (links and
>controls) are used to get a peak or an overview of what is in the page. I
>looked couple of pages shortly trying to simulate that.

Did you use pwWebSpeak and turn the screen down to where you can't see it?

Better: have a screen reader user do the actual browsing, and you just listen.

>One big difficulty was that I really would like to separate between the
>navigation bar elements, advertisements and the actual content of the page.
>Which one I want to look at a certain time depends at least on what I have
>done earlier and what my goals are.

The big difficulty is that you and I can envision much more structure in
the problem than we can legislate into all browsers.  The problem is to
start with all those distinctions that we would like to be responsive to in
the navigation function, and then realize that we can at most add one or
two bits of intelligence into the basic navigation modes.  The trick is to
isolate the _most helpful_ one or two addtional bits of intelligence to try
to add.

Another hurdle is the diverse ways that authors of HTML deliver the same
class of information.  There are pages that do inline framing in straight
HTML, pages that use frame sets to structure framing vs. what is unique to
this page, and other pages that use tables to break out this decomposition.

There is no one set of functional breakouts.  Sometimes the navbar is
strictly about the context of the page, sometimes it blends context and
content of a sub-site that the current page heads.

One can view this quest as one of query design.  What are the abstract
queries that a) cover the different preferences that the user will have at
different points in the life cycle of their interaction with this
page/site/web and b) can be reliably satisfied based on the way web pages
are actually written.  Actually, one could do worse than to start with the
URCC queries, and ask what is the best way to satisfy them, given a random
web page from today's web.

URCC queries:  What is there?  What can I do?  For more info see

This is also what the ER folks are trying to explore with prototype tools.


>Sometimes I might want to browse first the main title of the page and then
>see the navigation bar links to orientate myself. The last part is the
>active elements in content. Sometimes I might want to see just the content
>links and controls as I am looking different pages at the same site. Often
>however, I still browse the headers first and then go to the links and
>controls (if I go to a control do I get the explanation of the control as
>It would be nice to learn what the users frequently using these tabbing
>techniques do. What kind of strategies they have in going through the pages
>and what kind of difficulties there are? Are there clearly different types
>of sites that need different strategies? Would it help to use hierarchical
>tabbing where you can go up and down to more or less details in the
>semantic structure with one button while tabbing forward or backward the
>page with another?
>  Marja
Received on Friday, 12 March 1999 08:30:10 UTC

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