WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

Re: "tables" mode or "links" mode?


From: Patrick Burke
Date: Aug 29, 2011 5:24PM

Hi Angela,

There is some variation among screen readers, but basically there are
only three modes: one for navigating the virtual buffer (Jaws calls
it Virtual Cursor Mode), Forms Mode, and the newly popular
Application mode (where keystrokes are captured by a web
application). Generally the screen reader decides which is the best
mode to be in, unless you override the settings.

There are some typical commands available to users. These commands
pull out repeated structures from the HTML to create lists of items
for navigating quicly: Links, Form elements, Headings, divs, etc.
Frankly I wouldn't recommend using these as the *only* means of
navigating a page, but people often do, & here is where link text etc
can be confusing out of context. People (including myself) often
simply guess based on previous pages/experiences when deciding which
of these commands to use.

Other commands are always available (in Virtual Mode), such as Next
Heading, Next Table etc. These jump you through the buffer but don't
change anything else.

In Jaws, the table navigation commands simply become active when you
are in a table. If the table is marked up properly, you will get the
proper column, row & other info spoken while moving around with the
table commands. So if you had columns for DOC, PDF, & PPT formats,
users could move down the title column for the file they want, then
move across to the desired format. (A table summary explaining how
the table is organized would still be helpful.)

Overall, though, I like Birkir's idea of using a combobox for year, &
including info about file size.


At 03:37 PM 8/29/2011, Angela French wrote:
>Hello and thanks for your valuable contribution to my ongoing
>efforts to education myself on matters of accessibility!
>I am aware that there is a "links" mode and a "forms" mode for
>screen readers such as JAWS. Is there also something such as a
>"tables" mode? How does a screen reader user decide what "mode" to
>put the device into to read the page?
>If a web page has a complex table in it that also presents links to
>outside sources (say documents that can be downloaded, represented
>by a document icon), what mode is most likely to be employed by the
>user? In the above example, if the page was in links mode, would
>the user know what the document was all about since the context of
>the table was important to ascertain that?
>(This is related to the last email I sent out about presenting
>documents for download).
>Angela French
>Internet Specialist
>State Board for Community and Technical Colleges