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Re: The title attribute and screen readers


From: Jared Smith
Date: Jun 25, 2007 12:10PM

On 6/25/07, Paul Collins < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:

> I found it interesting here that the WCAG condone using the title to
> warn people about a popup window, even though user agents won't read
> it out by default.

It doesn't exactly say that. This is simply is an example of providing
supplementary information for a link that opens in a new window.
There's nothing that indicates that this is a sufficient method in and
of itself. For example, there may be an additional text cue about the
pop-up windows in addition to providing this information in title.
This is something that should be clarified in the example.

Most screen readers now indicate when new windows open. This does not
remove the need to identify that they will open, but it's important to
know that most screen reader users will be alerted when the window
does open.

> http://www.w3.org/TR/2007/WD-WCAG20-TECHS-20070517/Overview.html#H65
> "f no label is available, JAWS, Window-Eyes, and Home Page Reader
> speak the title attribute when the form control receives focus"
> Interesting that they only read the title if there is no label
> available. Good to know.

This is very useful for complex forms. However, we've found label to
be much better supported and it should be used when possible. The fact
that screen readers read title for unlabeled forms is mostly arbitrary
- it isn't recommended or required by any specification. Label on the
other hand, is clearly defined in its use.

> An interesting read. I guess the extra stuff I wanted to know was how
> assistive technologies other than screen readers react to the title

This is the real problem. There is no defined way in which they
*should* behave. And because title is entirely ignored by many user
agents, is not keyboard accessible, and is not read by most screen
readers, it would be wise to not use it for vital information, despite
what WCAG Samurai might recommend. Or perhaps the Samurai simply
deemed the new window information as NOT vital but supplementary
because it is typically obvious to sighted and screen reader users
that a new window has been opened after the fact.

Jared Smith