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Re: WCAG 2 and browser ZOOM and font units


From: Steve Green
Date: Aug 12, 2008 1:00PM

-----Original Message-----
[mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Moore, Michael
Sent: 12 August 2008 19:39
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] WCAG 2 and browser ZOOM and font units

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.



I agree with all of Michael's points. I occasionally need to enlarge text,
and I always choose to increase the font size rather than use the zoom even
though both options are available to me. The two functions have different
purposes and different behaviours, and it is wrong to deny users the benefit
of one of those options.

Also I have encountered several websites where the layout breaks in both
Opera and Internet Explorer when the zoom is used. I have no idea why, but
some elements overlay each other when they are supposed to be adjacent.