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search result highlighting and accessibility


From: Andrew Johns
Date: Apr 21, 2010 9:48AM

Based on the requirement not to rely solely on colour when presenting
information, I wondered if anyone had any thoughts on how to mark up search
results and keywords or phrases using more than just colour.

For example, in an existing web application, if I search for "oranges",
after being presented with a list of search results, I click through to the
actual result itself, and every instance of the word "Oranges" on that page
is highlighted in colour.

My feeling is that this would be marked up semantically using strong or em,
perhaps with additional colour styling for visual users, and an
informational cue above the main body of the content itself, where it
informs the user that all instances of word are emphasized.

However I'm not sure this would really be of any benefit to screen readers,
as the intention of the colour styling is to draw focus for the user - how
would the user "jump" to the instances in question? or is this a case where
the screenreader or browser search feature should be relied upon instead -
and an accessible alternative is therefore not really needed?

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts,

Kind regards,