[whatwg] Dynamic content accessibility in HTML today

Charles McCathieNevile chaals at opera.com
Tue Aug 22 04:32:46 PDT 2006

On Mon, 14 Aug 2006 15:48:06 +0200, Anne van Kesteren  
<fora at annevankesteren.nl> wrote:

> On Mon, 14 Aug 2006 06:36:40 -0700, James Graham <jg307 at cam.ac.uk> wrote:
>> But XBL works with ~0 assistive technologies and is presumably going to  
>> be complex to implement properly. Whilst, in general, I agree that  
>> having elements used in the correct way to provide semantic information  
>> is desirable, I think that adopting a technology that is already  
>> implemented and proven to solve real problems is a better approach than  
>> waiting on a complex future specification to be finished and  
>> implemented.
> So a while ago I posted  
> http://annevankesteren.nl/2006/06/accessibility-ideas some of my  
> thoughts regarding role=""... Basically, I don't really see authors  
> taking extra steps to make things accessible. Accessibility should just  
> be an integral part of the language, otherwise I don't think it will  
> work. For authors it will seem that without role="" their custom widgets  
> will work so there's no real benefit in adding it unless you work for  
> some big company that hires a few "accessibility experts" who tell you  
> to add it.

This was the argument used throughout the 90s against the alt attribute.  
(There are better arguments, like "even if you do use it the design is  
crap" but they weren't really the major issue then). It turns out that bit  
by bit people learn to get it. Alt attributes are used a lot more than  
they were, and better. (Yes, this means that they are now used  
infrequently and badly. But that's a big practical improvement).

Making accessibility part of the language is a good idea. But it is no  
better in practice than role, since people don't use the semantics  
consistently and make a big effort to innovate using JS and so on. The  
role attribute won't be perfect but it gives people a relatively reliable  
way to add something that won't impact on the rest of what they do (when  
alt got overloaded for tooltip this became a problem). There are also ways  
to add it post-hoc, e.g. by browserJS or something similar.



   Charles McCathieNevile, Opera Software: Standards Group
   hablo español  -  je parle français  -  jeg lærer norsk
chaals at opera.com          Try Opera 9 now! http://opera.com

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