WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: An Accessible method of hiding HTML content


From: julian.rickards@ndm.gov.on.ca
Date: Jun 4, 2004 7:43AM

I must admit that although I am pleased to learn of a technique that enables
a designer to hide items without making them inaccessible, I question the
example Paul gave in his article in which he uses a form to allow data entry
for two teams at the same time. Perhaps, this is why this hiding technique
is required, to accomodate a format that would be difficult for screen
reader users to use. Personally, I would have broken the form into two, one
for each team, and then much (if not all) of the need to hide certain
content would be eliminated.

What does this say about the use of this technique? Well, it works -- that
much is clear from one of the references at the bottom where testing was
performed -- and that is a good thing. However, it is my feeling that there
are few situations in which it may be of benefit (given that I have
eliminated the above table example). One example was to hide the skipnav
link because it detracts from the design. I appreciate the design issue but,
as a contributor to a gov't web site, it is my opinion that not only should
we make our web site accessible, we should make it clear to everyone that we
have attempted to do so, and not just by inserting a link to an
accessibility statement. Therefore, I would not hide the skipnav link.
Additionally, what about those persons who can see but use keyboards instead
of mouses (mice?): I was told once that they benefit from visible skipnav
links so hiding it from them prevents them from using it or if they tab and
hit this link, how do they know what it is for if they can't see it?

Finally, I have a question about tab order that I can't answer but Jim
Thatcher has done some significant research in this area. If a link is
hidden, can we be certain that tabbing in all browsers will find it?

Personally, I don't like the thought of using CSS to "destroy" (not meant as
a reference to Moose's CSS Destroy articles) content except in specific
situations such as a print stylesheet where web-only items (such as
navigation bars) make no sense on paper.


Julian Rickards
Digital Publications Distribution Coordinator
Publications Services Section
Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines
Phone: (705) 670-5608
Fax: (705) 670-5690