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RE: Reading OPTGROUP with JAWS


From: Paul Bohman
Date: Apr 17, 2002 2:12PM

I created a test page to show how well browsers do or do not support
optgroup. IE 6 on Windows, NS 6, IE 5 on Mac do support optgroup, but IE
6 for Mac is the only one that supports labels for option tags. You can
see the test page at:


Browser support is important to those who view the page with their eyes,
but for a person using a screen reader, browser support is pretty much
irrelevant. The important aspect is screen reader support. I haven't
conducted a thorough test of all of the screen readers, but I think that
Andrew is right that screen readers will simply ignore the optgroup
groupings and read the options... I don't have quite enough time to test
this out, but this would be the next thing to investigate.

Paul Bohman
Technology Coordinator
WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind)
Center for Persons with Disabilities
Utah State University

-----Original Message-----
From: Andrew Kirkpatrick [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2002 2:44 PM
Subject: Re: Reading OPTGROUP with JAWS

On 4/17/02 3:29 PM, Cohen, Lisa A. ( <EMAIL REMOVED> ) wrote:

Andrew, I'm confused...
Does JAWS say the group values (OPTGROUP) for you? Which keystrokes get
him to move to (and say) another OPTGROUP?
JAWS only says the group values if you include them as the content of
the <option> tag. What I've always heard is that browsers that ignore
optgroup will just read the <option> tag, so including the optgroup name
redundantly is necessary. Browsers such as MacIE will use the label tag
for the display and will not display the redundant information.

IE6 is half and half. It displays the optgroup name, but it doesn't use
the label for the <option>, so the group name is in bold at before the
first item in the optgroup, but then each option also includes the
optgroup name that was included for backward compatibility. If you are
using the keyboard to access the combo box, the optgroup names are
skipped in IE6.

Also, I am running IE 5.5 and it doesn't show the OPTGROUP at all...
you see it in bold? Haven't tried 6.0 because most of my government
users will not have it for a while.

My IE5.5 is tied up, so I can't verify this, but I'm sure you're right.

A correction to my last post - only Mac IE and IE6 are supporting
optgroup as outlined above. The other browsers display adequate
information if the optgroup name is used redundantly for backward


-----Original Message-----

From: Andrew Kirkpatrick [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2002 2:45 PM
Subject: Re: Reading OPTGROUP with JAWS

Can you define "support" in this case? Netscape 4.7, Opera 5, IE5.5 &
6, and MacIE5& 5.1 (undoubtedly there are others, these are the ones I
checked) all support optgroup. I've attached a sample file. When
viewing this example in Ie, JAWS reads the options fine.

Mac IE does what I imagine people consider "supporting" optgroup. When
the combo box is opened, four items appear, some with sub-menus. Very
clean visually.

Win IE makes the optgroup name bold and not selectable in its
implementation. A user with a screen reader will hear the optgroup name
for each sub-item, but the information is available. It would be great
if screen readers supported an auitory experience similar to the visual
experience in MacIE.


On 4/17/02 2:04 PM, Paul Bohman ( <EMAIL REMOVED> ) wrote:

The only technology that I'm aware of that supports optgroup is Netscape
6.x. I wish others did, but I don't think they do. Maybe the screen
reader Emacspeak for Unix/Linux does, but I'm not familiar enough with
it to know. Emacspeak has support for everything it seems, so I wouldn't
be surprised if it supports this feature.

-----Original Message-----
From: Cohen, Lisa A. [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2002 11:38 AM
To: WebAIM forum ( <EMAIL REMOVED> )
Subject: Reading OPTGROUP with JAWS

(Apologies for cross-posting... desperately need an answer!)
I need to code a very long listbox in an HTML form. The HTML 4 spec
shows an example of using OPTGROUP to group OPTIONS within SELECT tags.
But this does not appear to work with JAWS (nor does IE 5.5 do anything

Andrew Kirkpatrick, Technical Project Coordinator
CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media
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Web site: ncam.wgbh.org

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