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Re: headings for links list


From: Angela French
Date: May 16, 2011 4:21PM

I'm going to step out here and give a practical example. This site is for the agency I work for. I have been asked to complete an informal accessibility review with suggestions for changes. While there are many problems with the site, this is one example that appears throughout:

The page contains a table that has been used for layout purposes to contain links to PDFs. As you will see, it is impossible to navigate by links list as all the screen reader user will hear is "PDF, PDF......". I am thinking through a replacement technique for this purpose. I am leaning towards a list where each list item would be coded like this:

<li><a href="filename.pdf">Link Label (<img src="../../imgs/layout/icon_pdf.gif" alt="PDF" width="14" height="14" border="0" align="top"> 250KB)</a></li>
<li><a href="filename.doc">Another Link Label [<img src="../../imgs/layout/icon_word.gif" alt="WORD document" width="14" height="14" border="0"> 350KB]</a></li>

My quandary though, is the best way to put some sort of categorization heading for these lists (there would be three lists on this page). I would like them to look the same throughout the site (to the sited user). However, if they are headlines, then the heading number could vary from page to page if there was additional content on the page. For example, if no other content existed above these particular lists, then it would make sense to give them an h2 heading. On another page, such as this one , they could possibly be an h3.

This is what led me to ask what screen reader users like to see as a heading for lists of links - in this case links to documents.


-----Original Message-----
From: <EMAIL REMOVED> [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Birkir R. Gunnarsson
Sent: Monday, May 16, 2011 2:34 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] headings for links list


I think your question comes down to a topic that requires further research; how do screen reader users navigate a web page they do not know for the first time. How does that differ from how they navigate web pages they know better.
For me personally, I like html elements on a page that will get me quickly to the element I need on that page.
To this end I can use pretty much any html element. For basic GMail for instance, I use either x to get to the first check box (in front of the first message in the inbox), or the alt-i AccessKey.
If there is a heading or a list I can get to quickly, I use that.
A key I use a lot, as a Jaws uer, is "n" which jumps to the first piece of text after a group of links.
I use this a lot to navigate a page, and my biggest qualm with using NVDA for browsing is their lack of support for this method (of course we're all creatures of habit).
I hardly ever use navigation menus/same age links, too often they're incorrectly implemented in any case. I find that breadcrum navigation mens are confusing and take up a lot of space on a page, and I wish I could get rid of them (again, I am clearly expressing my own opinions as a user).
So, to this end, I would say the principle is to design a page in such a way that elements people are likely to use often, can be reached with the minimum number of keystrokes.
If this is the only list of links on the page, it does not require a heading, since pressing l in most screen readers will take you directly to it.
If it is one of many lists you may want to put a heading there to allow for quick navigation (though if the page is full of headings, you need to think about the level of your heading, try to make it so that user can get there in under 5 key strokes, ideally 3 or less).
If there is a grou of links, then text, then the list, the n key will get you to that text as well and arrow keys will get user to the list.
I navigate www.bbcnews.com this way. Pressing "n" in Jaws will get me directly to the text of the first news item on the page.
Of course you could look into using landmarks as well if other html elements do not fit with what you want to do.
hope this helps, and will start a larger discussion with the resident experts.

On 5/16/11, Angela French < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
> Today I realized how hard it is to find something specific within the
> WCAG 2.0!
> Can anyone tell me if there is anything that indicates that a heading
> should be used to introduce a list of links that would reside in the
> content of a page (as opposed to providing a heading on a navigation
> menu)? I thought there was, but now that I am looking for it specifically, it eludes me.
> To those of you who are screen readers, how important is it to you
> that a list of links have some sort of introductory heading, as
> opposed to discovering the nature of the links list by its context in the page content?
> Thank you.
> Angela French
> Internet Specialist
> State Board for Community and Technical Colleges
> 360-704-4316
> http://www.checkoutacollege.com<;http://www.checkoutacollege.com/>;