[whatwg] [HTML5] Accessibility question

Charles McCathieNevile chaals at opera.com
Mon Mar 17 12:22:00 PDT 2008

On Mon, 17 Mar 2008 16:46:45 +0100, Paul Waring <pwaring at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 17/03/2008, Nicholas C. Zakas <html at nczonline.net> wrote:
>> I know the topic has come up a few times, but I'm still wondering if  
>> HTML 5
>> should provide some sort of logic around content that should not be
>> displayed by browsers but should be read by screen readers. Perhaps a
>> "noview" boolean attribute on each element could be used to tell UAs  
>> not to
>> render the content but to report it to screen readers? Or maybe a  
>> <noview/>
>> element could be used to surround content that shouldn't be displayed  
>> but
>> should be accessible to screen readers?
> Is there an example of something which you think should be seen by
> screen readers but not by sighted users? Also, isn't this doing
> something similar to what display : none does in CSS (browsers won't
> render this content, but I presume screen readers will still read it
> out)?

Bad assumption - they don't read it out. They read what is put on the  
screen. (Well, sort of - what they actually do is parse the DOM themselves  
quite often, as well). One reason for this is that a lot of authors put  
stuff there "for screen reader users" that just adds to the clutter on  
their page - an easy mistake if you're not used to what screen readers are  
actually like to work with.

Designers put things (including useful things) on pages for screen reader  
users, and then hide them in various ways - things like [D] links, the  
"skip to content" links, alternatives for images that are more than just a  
text string so can't go in as alt, etc. I don't like the use case, but it  
is pretty common and if you want to be compatible with the real web we  
should have a way to deal with it. At the moment the most commonly  
successful technique is positioning things offscreen, but that's not a  
great solution either.

In my ideal world, people would actually implement the aural style, but I  
think we are the biggest implementation of that and we only do it on  
windows for the voice plugin :(



Charles McCathieNevile  Opera Software, Standards Group
     je parle français -- hablo español -- jeg lærer norsk
http://my.opera.com/chaals   Try Opera 9.5: http://snapshot.opera.com

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