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RE: defining focus


From: Dave Ferrick
Date: Mar 14, 2003 7:40AM

Thanks everybody for your input. It would be for a page with a single
purpose: site search, so, thanks to your feedback, I feel safer in making
the call.

Thanks again!

Dave Ferrick

-----Original Message-----
From: Terence de Giere [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2003 12:11 AM
Subject: Re: defining focus

Last year I was making some audio recordings of various web sites using
special access technology like JAWS, IBM Home Page Reader, an audio
browsers, text browsers. I would start the recording and let it run
until I had enough material for my purpose. I made some recordings of
amazon.com. One of the recordings (JAWS) seemed completely different
from the others. After a few minutes of investigation I realized that
JAWS had not started reading from the beginning of the page. It started
reading from the text box used for search further down on the page. I
was completely disoriented until I figured out that scripting had placed
the cursor in the box, and JAWS started reading the page from there.
Turning off the script enabled me to start at the beginning of the page.

From a usability standpoint placing the cursor in the most likely place
the user might input data is a good thing, but it can be completely
disorienting to someone who cannot see the page and the script runs. It
disoriented me and I was looking at the page when I was trying to figure
out what happened. Depending on the technology, the user may hear the
words "text" or "edit" as the first thing which is not informative about
what the page content is.

Placing the focus with script thus is a decision between probable
improved usability for the majority of users, and a substantial
usability deficit for non visual or low vision users - however it
depends on whether the script is supported by the technology, and also
perhaps on the context of the page. On a complex input screen on an
intranet, such scripted focus might save a few seconds of the user's
time by eliminating mouse usage, and in a large company, this might add
up to a substantial savings in time. In this case training non sighted
users about the way to deal with scripting on the page could solve the
problem, assuming the page was otherwise accessible. On the Internet,
however, such training is not typically available. This kind of thing is
why the W3C accessibility guidelines for user agents require a means to
turn scripting off.

Terence de Giere

Dave Ferrick" < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:

I hope I'm not prematurely asking the list about this.

Are there any particular issues with setting focus onto a form field with
Javascript? It feels like an undesiable practice to me just by its very
nature, but I'd like to hear your thoughts as well. If you know of any
documentation explaing either pro on con, that'd be a great help as well.

Thanks in advance for your time.

Dave Ferrick

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