[Mailman-Developers] The Philosophy of Web Use.

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu Aug 3 18:31:09 CEST 2006

> Ethan wrote:

>> Can you do me a favor and let me know how these examples work
>> for you?
>> http://tool-man.org/examples/sorting.html

Laura wrote:

> Works great for able bodied mouse users.
> But how are people with mobility impairments like low dexterity
> (unable to use a pointing device like a mouse and instead must use
> keyboard or switch) able to use it? It doesn't seem to work via
> keyboard.

Hi Ethan,

You might want to check out James Edwards' (aka brothercake) latest 
version of Docking boxes (dbx). It is a more keyboard accessible than 
the tool-man example. James is making progress in this area.

To quote from the site [1]:

"Docking boxes (dbx) adds animated drag 'n' drop, snap-to-grid, and 
show/hide-contents functionality to any group of elements. And ... in 
what might be  another  world-first for brothercake - dbx is fully 
accessible to the keyboard  as well as the mouse..."

He says in the accessibility notes [2]:

Docking boxes can provide equal functionality to both mouse and 
keyboard users, so the accessibility limitations usually associated 
with drag 'n' drop controls don't apply. However the dynamic interface 
is not supported in browser-based screenreaders, such as JAWS or Home 
Page Reader.

Many javascript events occur in browser-based readers exactly as they 
would for vanilla installs of the host browser (usually Internet 
Explorer). But having content which is switchable to non-displayed 
could be a major cause of confusion, in the absence of a reliable way 
to notify a non-graphical UA of the change explicitly.
To try to avoid these problems, the script uses event-disparity 
evaluations or repositiong routines at all;  for these users the layout 
should remain static, and accessible as though there were no dynamic 
behaviors, just as it is for legacy or text-only browsers.
This then means that CSS properties used to hide the inner content area 
- things like display:none which would normally be a total no-go - 
should not be a problem here, since readers should never activate nor 
cause to be activated the mechanisms  which apply those rules.
So, in these and other environments where the script is not supported, 
you'll get a default HTML  and CSS layout  with no dynamic behaviors. 
This isn't necessarily an issue for things like navigation or news 
boxes, where the scripting is supplementary to the core functionality. 
But its use as an application interface should be restricted to 
situations where browser and scripting support is predictable, or where 
equivalent server-side functionality is also provided.

That last sentence is key. Restrict use of this technique to situations 

1. Browser and scripting support is known (it's not for most Mailman 
admins) or
2. Provide equivalent server-side functionality

Best Regards,

[1] http://www.brothercake.com/site/resources/scripts/dbx/
[2] http://www.brothercake.com/site/resources/scripts/dbx/setup4/
Laura L. Carlson
Information Technology Systems and Services
University of Minnesota Duluth
Duluth, MN U.S.A. 55812-3009

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