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Web as OS / Platform

From: Simon Harper <simon.harper@manchester.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 2009 09:44:12 +0100
Message-Id: <E4B05B5D-2D81-4104-9B6A-AF7C88215481@manchester.ac.uk>
To: UAWG list <w3c-wai-ua@w3.org>
Morning All,

I was thinking more about our discussion yesterday and the email  
(which I've not seen) sent to one of the list by chaals regarding  
keyboard shortcuts. I must say that on reflection I think this is one  
of the most pressing problems we are facing, and not just from such  
a  narrow viewpoint of shortcuts but from the specification of the  
Web as an OS (from the interface perspective). Indeed, currently our  
draft says 'Principle 1: Comply with applicable specifications and  
conventions' however what are these 'applicable specifications and  
conventions' for the User Interface when the Web is the Platform or OS?

In addition, I've been chatting with some blind friends here, and  
they say that they learn an application by investigating the menus in  
a real setting, and by doing this, learn the functionally and the  
associated keys; like most of us they don't go to the manual.  
Further, they also say they know what to expect and (after trial and  
error) how to move around the components, dialogues, and widgets  
which are presented as they are consistent over the OS. Once all this  
implicit understanding and potential for self-exploration is removed  
they fear that things will be very difficult.

I note we don't have anything about enabling self exploration in our  
guidelines - maybe we should.

It seems to me that without a definition of general I/F components,  
their behaviour, and the keys pre-defined to operate them as a  
specification, so user, developer, and AT knows what to expect, we  
will only have more problems. Obviously Web App Developers are  
unlikely to change shortcut functionality and visual look and feel to  
match the OS of the browser, and so I would expect that a general  
specification is required.

I would also say that with the development of the Google Chrome OS we  
can see that this may be an opportunity for them to make all  
functionality consistent across their OS and Web Apps, the combined  
platform (if you will), if this happens we may get a de-facto  
standard without doing anything at all.



Simon Harper
University of Manchester (UK)

Human Centred Web Lab: http://hcw.cs.manchester.ac.uk

My Site: http://hcw.cs.manchester.ac.uk/people/harper/

My Diary (Web): http://hcw.cs.manchester.ac.uk/people/harper/ 
My Diary (Subscribe): http://hcw.cs.manchester.ac.uk/diaries/harper/ 
Received on Friday, 31 July 2009 08:44:50 UTC

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