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Re: drop down/jump menus


From: Leo Smith
Date: Jul 30, 2001 2:11PM

thanks for the very helpful input.
In my original email I meant to say "The 'title' attribute should also be used for each <option> element describing that it is in fact a link and specifying the destination," rather than for each <input> element, but hopefully you all caught that from my example (as <input> is not, of course, used for form list boxes - apologies).
Do you think that providing an initial "empty" option element that describes the list box as a set of links is sufficient to indicate the purpose of the form element, rather than a title outside and independent of the list box form element.
For example:
<select name="something" size="1">
<option value="">Quick links</option>
<option value="/link2.html">link2</option>
<option value="link3.html">link3</option>

Thanks again..

On 30 Jul 2001, at 13:34, Paul Bohman wrote:
> [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 accessibility?
> [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)

Leo Smith
USM Office of Publications and Marketing