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Re: WCAG 2 and browser ZOOM and font units

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From: Moore, Michael
Date: Aug 12, 2008 12:40PM


Jan Wolf wrote:

With WCAG 2 and Section 508 being updated to provide for technical
advances, how do people view the ability to ZOOM in FireFox 3 and IE7 as
it applies to font size units? Does this negate the need to use
resizeable fonts? I would prefer to use resizeable fonts BUT it does
require more thought and talent to produce a layout that retains its
usability/readability when fonts are resized in a browser. With the
newest browsers allowing a user to ZOOM in, I have a hard time making
the case to our programmers that they should continue to use resizeable
fonts. I don't even know if I can truly say that WCAG 2 will require it.


Opinions please?

My opinion:

Keep using scalable fonts.

1. Internet Explorer and Opera scale everything with the Zoom feature, a
quick test with IE 7 revealed that zooming the browser does not result
in reflow on a site designed with relative units for the container divs
(a page with a fluid design that should reflow). This results in the
need to scroll left to right. Increasing just the text size on the same
site works fine.
2. Fixed font sizes are frequently coupled with fixed units for other
aspects of the design resulting in poor, or no reflow which can be a
major impediment for people using screen magnifiers. For example, people
using screen magnifiers must pan around a browser window, if they must
also pan to the bottom of the window to use the left to right scroll bar
to view the page this creates additional usability problems.
3. I like to consider fixed font sizes in the same light as other items
that may be less important with newer technologies. One example is
Window Eyes and JAWS have both become quite good at guessing labels for
form fields with printed labels even when they are not programmatically
defined. This would never imply that it would be ok to leave off form
field label elements that are programmatically bound to the inputs.
People may be using older technologies, design changes could lead to
unexpected results, and changes to browsers or assistive technologies
could also result in adverse effects.

Mike