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RE: Skip Navigation
From: John Foliot - bytown internet
Date: Jul 23, 2002 5:06AM
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You are right of course concerning the image element example I used.
However, it was simply in reply to a comment that the "skip nav" (I really
don't know what to call it - block, method, or ideal perhaps?) only worked
in Internet Explorer. To which I replied that no, using a standard named
anchor (perhaps visually hidden) worked in virtually all browsers, and had
since almost the beginning of HTML time (the GIF89 format, which supported
transparency, was released in, well, 1989). It was a sloppy response banged
While I agree with your assessment that a skip nav block aids all users, my
own experience suggests that it is present primarily for screen reading
technology; for those users who cannot visually "scan" a page quickly and
decide what information they really want. In the commercial world then,
where not all clients are as sensitive to the issues as the other members of
this list are, getting the compromise of a transparent pixel spacer with a
named anchor is a good first step - I would suggest that it is better than
nothing at all, mandated or not. It is both easily implemented and visually
I would perhaps disagree with you concerning the structural placement of the
navigation links at the "bottom" of the document and position it at the top
Doesn't it seem reasonable that upon arriving at *any* document the user
would first want to know where they are (via an appropriate <title>) and
where they can go? Any time I go somewhere new I always look for the map
first<grin>. Therefore wouldn't placing the standard navigational "block"
(div) at the bottom of the document force users of screen reading technology
to read the entire document *before* they get to the navigation? And for
those with cognitive disabilities, wouldn't they too benefit with clear
navigational instructions from the onset (both visually and structurally),
consistently placed on every document within any given site?
Just some thoughts...
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jukka Korpela [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
> Sent: July 23, 2002 2:34 AM
> To: ' <EMAIL REMOVED> '
> Subject: RE: Skip Navigation
> John Foliot wrote:
> > Even in crummy old HTML3.2 you could go:
> > <a href="#content"><img src="spacer.gif" height="1" width="1"></a>
> > <a name="content>Content here</a>
> > works in just about everything.....
> Except in those situations where it is really needed. :-) But your
> forgetting to include an alt attribute was of course just a casual slip.
> However, there's a problem with the _optional_ attributes that
> you included,
> height and width. The problem is that some graphic browsers
> (well, at least
> IE with default settings) shrink the alt text to the dimensions specified,
> when the image is not displayed (e.g., because automatic image loading has
> been turned off). This means in this case that the alt text wouldn't show,
> defeating the purpose of a "skip navigation" link in this browsing
> situation, and causing confusion. It wouldn't hurt in many other
> where such a link would be useful, of course.
> (Why would anyone need "skip navigation" links if he is using a graphic
> browser? Well, to skip navigation and to reach the content proper! Those
> links are not _only_ for the blind. For example, a person with perfect
> eyesight might suffer from cognitive problems, like difficulties in
> recognizing the structure of a page from its visual presentation,
> the separation between "standard navigation" of a site and the content
> proper of a page. Actually, I think most of us face such situations, on
> sufficiently complex pages.)
> Thus, I'd advice against using height and width attributes for links like
> this; the only thing you could win is some marginal efficiency,
> but there's
> a lot to be lost. Naturally, this means that the image itself should be a
> transparent 1 by 1 pixel GIF. And for reasons associated with popular
> graphic browsers, it's perhaps best to include the attribute
> border="0" into
> the <img> tag; no matter how deprecated it is, it is the most
> effective way
> of preventing "normal" people that use "normal" browsers in "normal" mode
> from seeing a colored border around the single-pixel image.
> Finally, my ceterum censeo: "Skip navigation" links are a workaround, not
> the solution. Use them only if you have first considered and rejected (for
> some good reasons) structural solutions that do not create the
> problem that
> those links are intended to solve. At the simplest, put
> "navigational links"
> at the _end_ of a page, or use just _one_ contextual link, which points to
> an index page, where you can insert all the navigation you want. As a more
> complicated approach, put the links at the end _and_ use some CSS that
> suggests (using CSS2 positioning) that they be _visually presented_ at the
> start of the page.
> Jukka Korpela, senior adviser
> TIEKE Finnish Information Society Development Centre
> Phone: +358 9 4763 0397 Fax: +358 9 4763 0399
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