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Dylan Parry 08-06-2007 03:16 PM

Navigation lists and accessibility issues
 
I've been wondering lately about navigation and accessibility. There are
two places that the navigation can "live":

1) Before the content;
2) After the content

But which is best from an accessibility point of view? I used to think
that it was best to put the content first and the navigation following
it, but started to think about it - what's more annoying: having to
select a "skip navigation" link/listening to the same navigation on
every page; or realising you're on the wrong page but having to listen
to 20 paragraphs of content before getting to the navigation?

For that reason, I'm inclined to think that perhaps the best place for
the navigation is indeed before the content with a link to skip it. I
know I'd rather select that link on each page that wade through the
content just to get to the next page!

What are your thoughts on this issue?

--
Dylan Parry
http://electricfreedom.org | http://webpageworkshop.co.uk

The opinions stated above are not necessarily representative of
those of my cats. All opinions expressed are entirely your own.

Chaddy2222 08-06-2007 03:30 PM

Re: Navigation lists and accessibility issues
 
On Aug 7, 1:16 am, Dylan Parry <use...@dylanparry.com> wrote:
> I've been wondering lately about navigation and accessibility. There are
> two places that the navigation can "live":
>
> 1) Before the content;
> 2) After the content
>
> But which is best from an accessibility point of view? I used to think
> that it was best to put the content first and the navigation following
> it, but started to think about it - what's more annoying: having to
> select a "skip navigation" link/listening to the same navigation on
> every page; or realising you're on the wrong page but having to listen
> to 20 paragraphs of content before getting to the navigation?
>
> For that reason, I'm inclined to think that perhaps the best place for
> the navigation is indeed before the content with a link to skip it. I
> know I'd rather select that link on each page that wade through the
> content just to get to the next page!
>
> What are your thoughts on this issue?
>

Ummm, neather?. I can use the control key to stop the speach from
reading stuff that I don't really want and to get to the main content
I can just use the nubers 1 through 6 to find section headings. In a
decent screanreader anyway. Which I think is all of them.
--
Regards Chad. http://freewebdesign.awardspace.biz


Adrienne Boswell 08-06-2007 03:42 PM

Re: Navigation lists and accessibility issues
 
Gazing into my crystal ball I observed Dylan Parry
<usenet@dylanparry.com> writing in news:46b73b6f$0$646$bed64819
@news.gradwell.net:

> I've been wondering lately about navigation and accessibility. There

are
> two places that the navigation can "live":
>
> 1) Before the content;
> 2) After the content
>
> But which is best from an accessibility point of view? I used to think
> that it was best to put the content first and the navigation following
> it, but started to think about it - what's more annoying: having to
> select a "skip navigation" link/listening to the same navigation on
> every page; or realising you're on the wrong page but having to listen
> to 20 paragraphs of content before getting to the navigation?
>
> For that reason, I'm inclined to think that perhaps the best place for
> the navigation is indeed before the content with a link to skip it. I
> know I'd rather select that link on each page that wade through the
> content just to get to the next page!
>
> What are your thoughts on this issue?
>


I agree with you. If you look at a page using Opera in small screen
mode, or maybe on a phone or something, it's immediately clear that the
skip link and navigation is right at the top. Imagine this -- the
Internet, 2007 - you are on a small device and you've Googled for
something and find the index page, but really need a subpage. You get to
the page, and have to wade through all that content, just to get to the
navigation where the subpage is you want -- and you're doing this on your
phone where you get charged oodles per minute.

--
Adrienne Boswell at Home
Arbpen Web Site Design Services
http://www.cavalcade-of-coding.info
Please respond to the group so others can share


David Mark 08-06-2007 10:34 PM

Re: Navigation lists and accessibility issues
 
On Aug 6, 11:16 am, Dylan Parry <use...@dylanparry.com> wrote:
> I've been wondering lately about navigation and accessibility. There are
> two places that the navigation can "live":
>
> 1) Before the content;
> 2) After the content
>
> But which is best from an accessibility point of view? I used to think


After the content.

> that it was best to put the content first and the navigation following
> it, but started to think about it - what's more annoying: having to
> select a "skip navigation" link/listening to the same navigation on
> every page; or realising you're on the wrong page but having to listen
> to 20 paragraphs of content before getting to the navigation?


Change your thinking. Put a "Skip to Navigation" link before the
content. You can optionally hide it for screen media and show it for
handheld. But realize that if you hide it, most screen readers will
not "see" it either as they just read what is on the screen (this is
why some authors position the link off the screen, instead of hiding
it.) Aural browsers will see it either way.

Also, links that reference the next, previous, parent and home pages
should have access keys, as well as link elements in the header. A
bookmark link that references the navigation anchor is a good idea as
well. Lynx (for example) displays these types of links in a row
across the top of the page.

View pages in Lynx, a mobile device or listen to them through a screen
reader (or aural browser) and it becomes apparent that navigation
first is backwards and often redundant.

Furthermore, look at search engine result snippets for upside-down
sites and you see the same "Back to Home", "Contact Us", "Feedback",
etc. text over and over. I have also heard that spiders prefer to see
top-level headings and relevant content at or near the top (the higher
the better.)


Bergamot 08-07-2007 05:03 AM

Re: Navigation lists and accessibility issues
 
David Mark wrote:
>
> Change your thinking. Put a "Skip to Navigation" link before the
> content.


Is that content really the first thing on the page, or is it after the
masthead? If there is a page header preceding the content, you've just
stuck the skip link in between them, and not necessarily so easy to find.

Maybe a better idea is to have 2 links at the very top of the page,
before *anything* else:
- go to the content
- go to the navigation

The worst anyone will have to do is scroll back to the top of the page,
but that may be easier than hunting down a link stuck between 2 sections
within the page. IMO

--
Berg

David Mark 08-07-2007 05:57 AM

Re: Navigation lists and accessibility issues
 
On Aug 7, 1:03 am, Bergamot <berga...@visi.com> wrote:
> David Mark wrote:
>
> > Change your thinking. Put a "Skip to Navigation" link before the
> > content.

>
> Is that content really the first thing on the page, or is it after the
> masthead? If there is a page header preceding the content, you've just
> stuck the skip link in between them, and not necessarily so easy to find.


Right at the top. Then comes the H1. Logos and the like that often
appear at the very top are below the content in my scheme as well.
They are hidden from handheld devices and printers and positioned in
the top margin on monitors.


Dylan Parry 08-07-2007 09:48 AM

Re: Navigation lists and accessibility issues
 
David Mark wrote:

> Right at the top. Then comes the H1. Logos and the like that often
> appear at the very top are below the content in my scheme as well.


Do you have an example of a site you've built in this way? I'm
interested to see how you've laid out both the visual appearance of such
a site as well as the code behind the page.

--
Dylan Parry
http://electricfreedom.org | http://webpageworkshop.co.uk

The opinions stated above are not necessarily representative of
those of my cats. All opinions expressed are entirely your own.

David Mark 08-07-2007 11:59 AM

Re: Navigation lists and accessibility issues
 
On Aug 7, 5:48 am, Dylan Parry <use...@dylanparry.com> wrote:
> David Mark wrote:
> > Right at the top. Then comes the H1. Logos and the like that often
> > appear at the very top are below the content in my scheme as well.

>
> Do you have an example of a site you've built in this way? I'm


Yes, but it isn't public yet.

> interested to see how you've laid out both the visual appearance of such


The particular site I am testing now looks much like any other site in
a PC browser with CSS enabled. It has an elastic two column
(navigation and content) layout, a logo and login link at the top,
legalities at the bottom. On (most) handhelds it looks radically
different. There is only one column, the navigation is below the
content, the "Skip navigation" link appears at the top, the login link
is at the bottom, etc. The handheld rules simply override positioning
and display for certain elements, which covers devices that don't
respect the mutual exclusivity of media-specific style sheets (eg
interpret both screen and handheld types.)

As for sound, I did recently add an aural style sheet, but have found
that most screen readers pay little attention to it. Opera's voice
feature respected some of the simpler rules.

> a site as well as the code behind the page.


Underneath the stylings are simple semantic documents, which are
friendly to text-only browsers, screen readers, search engines, etc.
The markup is very simple when compared to the average fixed-width,
tables-in-tables-with-spacers site. It's lighter too, which helps out
with handheld support as some services reject any page over 10K.

None of these techniques are new or particularly complex, but I too
had a hard time finding sites that used them. As I recall, Opera had
some good demonstrations on their site.


Bernhard Sturm 08-07-2007 03:54 PM

Re: Navigation lists and accessibility issues
 
David Mark wrote:
> On Aug 6, 11:16 am, Dylan Parry <use...@dylanparry.com> wrote:
>> I've been wondering lately about navigation and accessibility. There are
>> two places that the navigation can "live":
>>
>> 1) Before the content;
>> 2) After the content
>>
>> But which is best from an accessibility point of view? I used to think

>
> After the content.
>


interesting thinking, but what happens when you follow a search engine
result list and end up on a subpage? You would first see or hear only
the content without knowing if the site has actually the content you
were looking for. I tend to have favor a more structured approach: show
me the structure (hence navigation) of a site, and then what I will get
content wise. I always put an (invisible) metanavigation to the content
and menus on each page:

* skip to content
* skip to navigation

- About us
- Our Products
- Where to find us

Here is our content

This seems to me the most logical way as it follows a well known
structured approach (first thing in a book is the table of contents,
first thing on each elevator exit in a building are signs what can be
found on each level).
If you put it the other way round, you will force people to search
actively for the navigation, which seems to me a wrong approach.
(Although Nielsen would have another opinion on this, but he assumes
that users are first looking at the content and _then_ at the
navigation, so it all bases on this assumption :-)

cheers
bernhard

--
www.daszeichen.ch
remove nixspam to reply

Karl Groves 08-07-2007 06:28 PM

Re: Navigation lists and accessibility issues
 
Dylan Parry <usenet@dylanparry.com> wrote in
news:46b73b6f$0$646$bed64819@news.gradwell.net:

> I've been wondering lately about navigation and accessibility. There
> are two places that the navigation can "live":
>
> 1) Before the content;
> 2) After the content
>
> But which is best from an accessibility point of view? I used to think
> that it was best to put the content first and the navigation following
> it, but started to think about it - what's more annoying: having to
> select a "skip navigation" link/listening to the same navigation on
> every page; or realising you're on the wrong page but having to listen
> to 20 paragraphs of content before getting to the navigation?
>
> For that reason, I'm inclined to think that perhaps the best place for
> the navigation is indeed before the content with a link to skip it. I
> know I'd rather select that link on each page that wade through the
> content just to get to the next page!
>
> What are your thoughts on this issue?
>


Having observed disabled people actually using sites, I can say that my
personal opinion is that it doesn't really matter (for blind users) so
long as: a) they can access content easily without being burdened with
repetitious tabbing past lists of links and, b) they can effectively
navigate when they need to. c) they know how to do "a" and "b"

So, if your nav is *before* the content, immediately give them a way to
skip it at the very top before any content is written out (IOW, right
aftter <body>)

If your nav is *after* the content, immediately give them a way to get
to the navigation, again right after <body>


Most people unfortunately believe that this feature only benefits blind
users, and fail to understand that people with motor control problems
have to tab to navigate. Where you place navigation (before or after
content) is of no consequence to blind people as long as they can use it
without it being a huge pain in the ass. But people with motor control
disorders will *see* the navigation there at the top (or left) and begin
tabbing, expecting focus to switch to the navigation options early in
their tabbing. If the navigation is placed after content, this also
means they won't get focus on any of the navigation links after they've
already tabbed through everything else. In other words, you've just
removed frustration from one population and transferred it to another.

I say put the navigation before content and allow them to skip to
content rather than skip to navigation.





--
Karl Groves
http://www.thehotrodclassifieds.com
http://www.grayscalecms.com
http://www.karlcore.com



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