WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: drop down/jump menus


From: Paul Bohman
Date: Jul 30, 2001 1:36PM

[Leo] 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).
[Paul] This is definitely an appropriate tactic.
[Leo] The "title" attribute should also be used for each <input> element
describing that it is in fact a link and specifying the destination.
[Paul] As long as the title adds additional information that is not
otherwise available by the text within the link, I think this is a fine
idea. Note that not all screen readers read the title attribute of links (or
any other kind of title, in some cases). Adding the words "link to" may or
may not be all that useful. I think that if you provide a good context for
the dropdown list, it will be unnecessary to explicitly state that each item
is a link to another page. For example, right before the drop down list you
could say "Quick links index" or something else that conveys the purpose of
the list of links. If you do that, it should be fairly obvious that the list
is a list of links. It probably wouldn't hurt to add the words "link to",
but I'm not sure they're necessary under most circumstances.
[Leo] 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
[Paul] I would say that this is probably overkill. Nearly all technologies
these days can handle forms, and have been able to for some time. There is
no need to make redundant text links for forms.
[Leo] 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.)
[Paul] In principle, they are all the same thing. As long as the context
within the page allows the users to realize that they have just entered into
a list of links, there shouldn't be any practical difference among them
either. Image links have the advantage of providing visual cues to the
link's destination. Text links have the advantage of being the simplest and
most straightforward type of link. Drop down lists of links have the
advantage of condensing long lists of links that can be easily skipped over
by the user (whether visually, with keyboard-only access, or with a screen
reader. It's just a matter of fitting your choice to the circumstance at
hand, in my opinion.
Paul Bohman
Technology Coordinator
WebAIM: Web Accessibility in Mind (www.webaim.org)
Center for Persons with Disabilities (www.cpd.usu.edu)
Utah State University (www.usu.edu)