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RE: Separating links
From: John Foliot - bytown internet
Date: Mar 26, 2002 1:29PM
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Warning... grumpy rant follows (sensitive readers should hit delete now)
>>These people are *blind*, not stupid.
>> I would personally put this
>> guideline in the "recommended" category, but not necessarily in the
>> "required" category, because modern screen readers have the potential to
>> handle links well, even if they are not set up to do so in the default
HEY EVERYBODY - ACCESSIBILITY IS NOT JUST ABOUT BLIND USERS!!!!
Consider the following:
<.a href="here.html"><.img src="button1.gif" alt="Here"></a><.a
href="there.html"><.img src="button2.gif" alt="There"></a><.a
href="anywhere.html"><.img src="button3.gif" alt="Anywhere"></a>
Using a "user agent" which does not support images (or has images disabled
for whatever reason), you would get the following:
Looking and feeling as one big link instead of 3 separate links. Users with
cognitive disabilities may not grasp that there are 3 links there (heck you
probably wouldn't either at first glance).
And if the Alt Text was "shorter" (MeMyselfI) the links would be extremely
hard for users with mobility impairments to access.
Separating the links with non-link text then is crucial for these users. In
the case above, I would probably consider using an image map instead of the
3 separate button images, but that's not the point. The point is that when
creating your sites, we as developers must always think about the bigger
picture. Lately, the discussion threads I see seem to focus almost
exclusively on JAWS and IMB HPR, two fine products from companies who seem
to be serious about listening to feedback and correcting/improving their
software. But as developers we need to keep our eyes on the ball (the
bigger picture) and not get sidetracked by any particular "user agent".
>> 1. It seems to me that, the way the most recent versions of HPR
>> and JAWS treat these situations, hearing "vertical bar" or some
>> such in between links is just a nuisance: I can't see (or hear)
>> that it serves any useful purpose whatever. I am open to being
>> convinced otherwise, however.
How about because taking a stance like that is the 2002 equivalent of the
"Best Viewed in <browser of choice>" nonsense of the 90's? I would suggest
that backward compatibility and an acknowledgement that there are more than
two adaptive technology solutions available to the end user is required.
The W3C lists over 35 different "user agents (browsers)" created for or
include enhancements for the disabled at:
Just because the most recent versions of these software tools no longer
exhibit "problems" to the multitude of new sighted users who have recently
installed these softwares for "testing purposes" does not remove the fact
that before Accessibility became the hot topic it is today, disabled users
(many of whom may be on fixed or restricted budgets) were using earlier
versions of the software minus the improved behaviour. An associate of mine
has been using JAWS 3.x for some time now (daily!)... he hopes to get Jaws 4
with his new computer later this year, but he's saving his scheckles like
everybody else does; he doesn't have the luxury of writing it off as a
business expense. I would suspect that the large majority of the intended
audience are in a similar situation.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Philip Pawley [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
> Sent: March 26, 2002 2:07 PM
> To: <EMAIL REMOVED>
> Subject: RE: Separating links
> Thank you for your detailed response. I have a few questions as a
> result of trying these things out on JAWS 4.0 and Home Page Reader 3.02.
> >Home Page Reader: The default mode in Home Page Reader is to change the
> >type of voice. A male-sounding voice reads the plain text and a
> >female-sounding voice reads links. This is a more direct example of the
> >question you asked. In Home Page Reader, two adjacent links will be read
> >consecutively without a distinguishing sound in between them. For
> >example, two links "products" and "help" might be misunderstood to be
> >one links "products help". However, there are options in Home Page
> >Reader that allow the user to differentiate between links. HPR can be
> >set to play a sound (e.g. a chime) or say a word (e.g. "link") before
> >the link. There are ways of configuring the program so that there is no
> >confusion, but the default settings permit this kind of confusion.
> In Home Page Reader 3.02:-
> If there is a <p>, <br> or <div> in between, I hear no problem.
> No there is between adjacent links but who needs one anyway?
> There is a clear pause in between one link and the next.
> I really can't see any need for any printable characters or the
> ensuing change of voice. These people are *blind*, not stupid.
> Also, we mustn't forget that blind people are more attentive to
> vocal nuances than we who rely so heavily on our eyes. So if I
> have no problem here, a blind person certainly isn't going to either.
> Even with just a space between links, the problem is not *that
> bad*: although there is no pause in this case, there is still a
> voice inflection that tells the attentive listener that a new
> link is being read.
> >Now you may be wondering what to do about this issue. In a list of
> >links, you can place a character such as a vertical bar ( | ) in between
> >links. You could also place periods, hyphens, or any other character
> >there, but vertical bars are more common. Placing a line break ( <br> )
> >or a new paragraph ( <p> ) does not meet the guideline because there are
> >no printable characters in between links that way.
> In view of the above, are we really talking about an older
> version of Home Page Reader? How old?
> >And another important question: Is it necessary to do this nowadays? In
> >lists of links I think it is usually a good idea, but perhaps not as
> >necessary as it once may have been. I would personally put this
> >guideline in the "recommended" category, but not necessarily in the
> >"required" category, because modern screen readers have the potential to
> >handle links well, even if they are not set up to do so in the default
> I feel I need more information about older versions (or other
> programs that demonstrate these problems) before being able to
> make a judgement. Certainly, I see *no* problem with the most
> recent version of Home Page Reader.
> >P.S. Bulleted lists are often read as if there is no break between list
> >items, which can be confusing in Home Page Reader's default
> >configuration (though, again, this can be modified). I really wish that
> >screen readers read lists better, but they don't. They could say
> >"bullet", "list item" or something, but they don't (in the default
> >configuration). I personally would not recommend putting vertical bars
> >or other characters at the end of bulleted list items--though it may
> >help some screen reader users--because that seems to me to be going a
> >bit too far. Still, I bring it up because that is one situation in which
> >screen readers could be of more help to the user, but they aren't. It's
> >a situation to at least be aware of.
> Again, in version 3.02, I hear a clear pause.
> <Quoted out of your original order>
> >JAWS: When JAWS reads links, it prefaces the text with the work "link".
> >For example, if the link text says "products", JAWS will say "link
> >products". For the most part, there is no confusion here. There may be
> >confusion, however, with the text following the link. For example, if
> >the text right after the products link says "All around the world,
> >people are wondering about...", then the user may not know whether the
> >link is "products" or "products all around the world".
> Again, I can see no problem with JAWS 4.0 in this connection.
> There is a clear pause between the link and the following text -
> as well as inflectional cues. I can't see how a blind person
> *could* be confused by this presentation.
> To sum up:-
> 1. It seems to me that, the way the most recent versions of HPR
> and JAWS treat these situations, hearing "vertical bar" or some
> such in between links is just a nuisance: I can't see (or hear)
> that it serves any useful purpose whatever. I am open to being
> convinced otherwise, however.
> 2. Since I don't see any of these problems in the most recent
> versions, I assume we are talking about older versions.
> 3. Was it the previous versions that were at fault or is it an
> older problem? How far back are we looking?
> Philip Pawley
> Liverpool, UK
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