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RE: Accessibility issues and AJAX


From: Robinson, Norman B - Washington, DC
Date: Nov 30, 2005 4:20PM


I was indirectly referencing 1194.22(l); "When pages utilize scripting
languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the
information provided by the script shall be identified with functional
text that can be read by assistive technology".

Although it isn't a 508 requirement that web based applications function
without scripting, in combination with section (d) "Documents shall be
organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style
sheet." I have found the lowest common denominator to be disable
scripting and see how the application degrades. Much of the application
information should be provided to the user. Not a perfect test, but one
I'm also partial to using when I have portables such as my cell phone
that don't do scripting!

Again, not a hard line on Section 508 but more in the spirit of
usability. I would further say that even if there isn't a specific
provision in the Section 508 accessibility standards, the _functional_
requirements still apply (1194.31
http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/standards.htm#Subpart_c) and we
should figure out how we can best support this technology with our
existing screen readers.

I also find the interplay of the specific web-based intranet and
internet information and applications standards being considered a
subset of software applications and operating systems standards
interesting. If this was a software application I would take exception
with 1194.21 (c) "A well-defined on-screen indication of the current
focus shall be provided that moves among interactive interface elements
as the input focus changes. The focus shall be programmatically exposed
so that assistive technology can track focus and focus changes." and a
few others as well.


Norman Robinson

-----Original Message-----
[mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Andrew
Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2005 11:26 AM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: RE: [WebAIM] Accessibility issues and AJAX

Norman wrote:
> that analogy because of the issue with scripting and Section
> 508 requirements that applications still function without
> scripting. How would AJAX function with scripting disabled?

What section 508 requirement is that? Scripting is OK in 508, but it
must result in "functional text", unless you're reading things
differently than I do.

Heavyweight DOM scripting, as is common in AJAX, doesn't need to result
in inaccessible content, but often the events used are mouse-specific
and changes to the page are not always announced to users. The result
might be perfectly accessible new content on a page, but a screen reader
user may not know that the new content exists or even if the user knows
that it exists he probably doesn't know where to find it on the page.

Another difficulty often occurs when developers make things that look
like controls on a page, but the information needed by assistive
technologies is not present, and the accessibility and user experience
for disabled users suffers.