[uf-discuss] proposal: a.include

Michael Leikam leikam at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 10 14:48:24 PDT 2006

I'm running into accessibility problems with both <object>
and <a> include-pattern.

On the one hand, current ADA [1] audit tools like LIFT [2]
want to see an alternative representation for the object
data.  Since the whole point of using the include-pattern
is to avoid repeatedly specifying the referenced content,
using the <object> element's alternative representation
mechanism is hardly an attractive option.

One might argue that this is a false positive, since the
referenced content can usually be rendered, but one can
hardly blame the vendors since such is not usually the
case.  In the W3C Priority 1 checkpoint 1.1 [3], the
<object> tag is given as an example of a tag where
accessibility is a concern.  Likewise, in the rules for
rendering [4], alt text is prominent.  Still, regardless of
whether this use is actually compliant or not, the fact
that it causes me extra work is a big point against me
using it.

The result is that this, combined with the problem of
reloading pages [5], is enough for me to abandon the
deployment of <object>-based include-patterns on a large

So, what about the <a> alternative?  It runs into trouble
with screen readers like JAWS, which, ironically, have no
problem with the use of <object> tags.  Screen readers
typically add a prompt or a verbal cue when they run across
an anchor with an href since such a construct is an
opportunity to *go* somewhere else.  The fact that text
within the link is "missing" means that the user clicking
on it is going somewhere with no guidance as to where that
is.  It's a blind link.

Just because you think <a href="#foo" class="include"></a>
should be invisible to the human reader, doesn't mean it

My other concern in using the <a> tag is that it is too
significant as hypertext navigation.  By default in IE6,
FF1.5, and most other browsers, links acquire a tab index
and anybody using the keyboard for navigation is going to
have to tab through all of the faux-links.  I don't mind
adding "extra" spans or divs for reasons like this, but it
doesn't feel right to be adding blind faux-links in order
to do transclusion.

I'm sorry I don't have a good alternative here.


[1] Americans with Disabilities Act
[2] http://www.usablenet.com/
[5] http://microformats.org/wiki/include-pattern-feedback

More information about the microformats-discuss mailing list