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drop down/jump menus

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From: Leo Smith
Date: Jul 30, 2001 1:11PM


Hi everyone,
I had a question about drop down menus and accessibility. Not the more recent javascript/DHTML drop down/fly out menus that are now starting to appear more and more in web sites, but the more traditional list menu form element that can also be used as "jump- menu."
My thinking is that to be accessible, there should be a "go" button by the list menu, meaning that the list is keyboard scrollable via the tab key and the arrow keys, and then the go button can be tabbed to when the desired link has been scrolled to and selected (without the "go" button, the first link down in the list is the one that is selected and that the page jumps to when a user attempts to scroll the list with the keyboard).
The "title" attribute should also be used for each <input> element describing that it is in fact a link and specifying the destination.
For example:
<form method="post" action="/cgi-bin/jump.cgi" title="navigation menu">
<select name="URL" size=1>
<option value="/link1.html" title="link to link1">link1</option>
<option value="/link2.html" title="link to link2">link2</option>
<option value="link3.html" title="link to link3">link3</option>
</select>
<input type="submit" value="Go">
</form>

Is my thinking correct? Would this be OK accessibility wise?
I have seen some sites that repeat all the links in such a dropdown menu at the bottom of the page as text links. Is this really necessary for accessibility? What is the difference between using a list box form element as a link compared to an image as a link, as long as descriptive text is provided in each case (alt text in the case of images and title text for each list item in the jump menu.)
Thanks much,
leo.
Leo Smith
USM Office of Publications and Marketing
207-780-4774