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RE: HowTo provide the user the ability to turn refresh off?


From: Jukka Korpela
Date: Dec 23, 2002 12:55AM

Joel Ward wrote:

> > The option allowing refresh is:
> > <meta http_equiv="REFRESH" contents="300">
> By-the-way, is this considered a violation of the 508 or W3C
> rules? I've seen discussions arguing both sides.

It seems pretty clear to me that it violates W3C rules at present; whether
those rules would need to be reconsidered is a different issue.

Under Guideline 7 (Ensure user control of time-sensitive content changes)
the WCAG 1.0 Recommendation says:

"7.4 Until user agents provide the ability to stop the refresh, do not
create periodically auto-refreshing pages. [Priority 2]
For example, in HTML, don't cause pages to auto-refresh with
"HTTP-EQUIV=refresh" until user agents allow users to turn off the feature."

Source: http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/#tech-no-periodic-refresh

But if you ask me, the following scenario would be reasonable:
- create two versions of the page, one with refresh, one without it
- on any page that refers to the page, use two links, with a short
- put a link to the other version into each of them
- make it so that in the auto-refreshing version, the link and associated
alert appear near the start of the document, with text like
"This page automatically refreshes every 5 minutes. But there is an
[link]alternate version without automatic refresh." (It bothers me, though,
whether this formulation satisfies the requirement of universal
understandability. Do all users know what "automatic refresh" mean?)

The last two items are needed because users may enter either of the
versions, via links outside your control, via search engines, or just by
looking at a screen where the page is displayed.

Naturally, the scenario could be extended by adding versions with different
refresh rates, as suggested in other comments. There could even be a page
for selecting the refresh rate so that the user types in the amount of
seconds (and clicks on a submit button that invokes a simple server side
script that just returns the page with meta refresh tag with the desired
content). That would compensate for the lack of refresh control in current

Jukka Korpela, senior adviser
TIEKE Finnish Information Society Development Centre
My employment at TIEKE ends at the end of 2002.
I will be reachable at <EMAIL REMOVED> .

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