WebMail Accessibility Interest Group

Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services (CITES) and Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES)

University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign

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Teleconference Details

Date: 2006-09-07

Time: 1:00 PM CDT


Hello everyone,

As promised, attached please find the first draft for webmail accessibility guidelines. Note that it is far from being complete and had a lot room to improve.
It is just to start the discussion and make sure that we all are on the same page. For now, we are covering only composing an e-mail and viewing a folder.

Jon and I discussed two approaches how we should structure the guidelines. The options were 1. Should we customize the HTML Best practices to address webmail
related issues, and 2. Should we break down the webmail related issues into typical tasks/functions. After a rather lengthy discussion we decided to go
with the second option.

We originally used MS Word for editing the following document but due to security reason we do not allow attachments to be sent via mailing list that's
why I had to paste the document in the body of this e-mail so some of the formatting information got lost in this process. I tried to fix it as much as
possible but there might be still places with incorrect indentation.

And finally before we get to the document, remember that we have a meeting tomorrow and we will be discussing the first draft.

Date: Thursday September 7
time: 2:00 PM EDT/ 1:00 PM CDT/ 12:00 PM MDT/ 11:00 AM PDT
Phone: 217 265-6999


Global Web Mail Issues

1.      Navigation Features
·       Disable/enable shortcut keys
2.      Automation Features
·       Session time-out period, should be configurable by user, range up to one day?
·       Configure/disable automatic update of any screen updates

Web Mail Tasks
Composing Mail
Web Mail Functions
·       Inbox
·       Address book
·       Go to a folder
·       Trash
·       Many other types of functions
Message Functions
1.      Send
2.      Cancel/Discard
3.      Spell check
4.      Add an address from address book
5.      Save draft
Editing Tool Bar
3.      Character Formatting
·       Bold
·       Italic
·       Underline
·       Font family
·       Font size
·       Font color
4.      Add Link
5.      Paragraph Formatting
·       Heading
·       Left justification
·       Right justification
·       Center justification
·       Unordered list
·       Ordered list
·       Indent
6.      Remove formatting
7.      Toggle between rich formatting and simple text
Message Creation Functions
Message features are typically form controls that need LABELs.
1.      To (Text Input Box)
2.      Carbon copy (Text Input Box)
3.      Blind carbon copy (Text Input Box)
4.      Message with or without formatting controls (Text Area)
·       Formatting controls are picture buttons
·       What do the formatting controls generate
5.      Adding attachments (File upload)
6.      Removing attachments (link/button next to attachment)
7.      Request a receipt (Checkbox)
8.      Priority (Select box)
9.      Change character set (Select box)
10.     Include signature (Checkbox)
Accessibility Issues of Compose Mail
1.      Titling
a.      Does it make a difference how people go to the compose interface: for example as a reply, forward mail or new message
b.      Use of TITLE element and H1 to reflect the titling
2.      Headings
a.      Web mail functions
b.      Message functions
c.      Composing functions
d.      Formatting toolbar functions
e.      Buddy lists
f.      Group lists
g.      Advertisements
h.      Other information
3.      Forms
a.      LABELs for form controls
b.      Navigation order of form controls
c.      Where should focus be when people go to the compose message interface, is this referrer dependent?
d.      Shortcuts
i.      User ability configure for shortcuts to be active or not
ii.     Shortcuts to what functions??
4.      Styling
a.      As text size increases content should reflow
b.      As window width increases form controls should resize to fill the screen, if additional screen real estate
5.      Automation
a.      OnChange event should not trigger form submissions

Viewing a Folder
Web Mail Functions
·       Inbox
·       Sent
·       Trash
·       Go to a folder
·       Address/Contacts management
·       Trash
·       Many other types of functions
Folder Functions
1.      Sorting by function
·       Subject
·       Date
·       Sending
·       Attachments
·       Priority
·       Read/unread
·       Reverse sort order
2.      Selecting messages
·       Select all
·       Unselect all
·       Select a range of messages
·       Select individual message
·       Unselected selected messages and select unselect messages (toggle??)
3.      Message operations
·       Delete
·       Move
·       Copy?
·       Mark/Unmark as SPAM
4.      View options
1.      Number of messages
2.      Next/Previous group of messages
Folder Information
1.      Folder title
2.      Total messages
3.      Messages displayed on this page
4.      Total unread messages
Message Information
1. Read or unread
2.      Selected or unselected
3.      Sender
4.      Subject
5.      Priority
6.      Date
7.      Time
8.      Attachments
9.      Labels
Accessibility Issues
1.      Configuration
a.      User controls what message information displayed
b.      Default rendering order and message information that is a heading selected by user
2.      Navigation
a.      Titling
i.      Which mailbox
ii.     Sorting order information??
iii.    Current messages displayed??
b.      Headings
i.      Web Mail functions (h2)
ii.     Folder functions (h2)
1.      Sorting functions (h3)
2.      Selecting messages (h3)
3.      Message operations (h3)
4.      View options
c.      Messages (h2)
d.      Headings should indicate sorting order of individual messages (h4)
e.      Default: Date with headings (h4) on the subject, sender other selectable by user
f.      What happens when people when people change sort order
3.      Table markup
a.      Column headings


Session Start: Thu Sep 07 12:51:44 2006
Session Ident: #webmail
[12:51] * Now talking in #webmail
[12:51]  Hello
[12:51]  Hello Jon!
[12:52]  Thanks again for takinig notes
[12:52]  Sure thing! 
[12:52]  A list of people in the group can be found at: 
[12:52]  ok - i will review that now
[12:53]  This may save time trying to get the spelling of people's names
[12:54]  that is very helpful. Thanks. I hope Jerry Davis of Mirapoint can participate in a few of these teleconferences.
[12:55]  He's a good guy to have "on our side" -- has quite a lot of influence on daily operations at Mirapoint.
[13:01] * don has joined #webmail
[13:01]  Yes
[13:02]  gm2u
[13:02]  Greetings Don
[13:06] * JRG has joined #webmail
[13:06] * Ken has joined #webmail
[13:06]  Hadi: welcome to everyone who has joined already including our colleagues from Mirapoint
[13:08]  Matt Anderson: I'm the director of user experience at Mirapoint. We've been talking at Mirapoint about accessibility of our webmail for quite
a while. Looking forward to opportunity to working with everyone in this interest group.
[13:09]  Hadi: we've set up a basic website for this working group. Jon has provided the URL on our IRC channel.
[13:10]  Hadi: is Thursday a good time for everyone? (Responses from Matt, Gale, and others indicate this time is good)
[13:11]  Hadi: thanks to Don for sharing ideas and concerns with the group. We think a good guideline would cover all those concepts.
[13:11]  CITES/DRES Best Practices: 
[13:12]  Hadi: how to approach the problem? two options #1 (missed it)  #2 - option of being task oriented - organize tasks and go from there
[13:13]  Hadi: #1 option is customization of HTML best practices
[13:13]  Ken: I'd go with option #2 - task-based approach. Focus on a prioritized list of things that can be fixed. Seems a good approach, more realistic.
[13:14]  Hadi: application developers - your opinions?
[13:14]  Matt: in favor of task based approach. Makes things more direct in terms of analyzing impact on users.
[13:15]  Mike: agree with task based approach. Specific UI problem areas, could lead to option #1 (documenting as best practices) - but need to do
task-based work first.
[13:17]  Hadi: two major tasks. One is composing email. Other is (missed it)
[13:17]  Jon: 20% of document about webmail interface. Two tasks. composing mail and viewing a folder. A section on global webmail issues.
[13:18]  Jon: first part, under composing mail. Four major areas. Generic webmail functions. Moving between different tasks within the webmail application
[13:19]  Jon: guidelines are for the whole group, not just Hadi and Jon.
[13:20]  Jon: we want the companies to be able to translate this into their local language using their own company terms.
[13:20]  Jon: message creation function. Form controls. To: box. CC:, Bcc:, Message text, formatting controls. Adding attachments, removing attachments.
Priority, etc.
[13:21]  Jon: accessibility issues related to Compose task. how to organize .. to implement section 508.
[13:21]  Jon: title element for Compose operation. H1 header.
[13:22]  Jon: situational title changes that may apply ... title may need to reflect it when user chooses Reply or Forward. This helps the user stay
[13:23]  Jon: headings provide structure. allows screen reader users to easily navigate through these functions. Want to make sure we have headings
to label ... formatting toolbar, etc.
[13:23]  Jon: many different elements in web interface that we want labeled with headings.
[13:24]  Jon: forms - want to make sure all forms have labels. What is navigation order of forms? Where should the focus be when people enter? Should
there be shortcuts? Configurable by user to be active or not?
[13:25]  Hadi: we've developed many apps in house. But I have no experience developing webmail apps. from perspective of webmail app developer, are
we on track or off?
[13:25]  Hadi: clarifying: looking at the way we've broken down the tasks / features. Is it feasible to have headings for each nav bar that the user
can hide.
[13:27]  Matt: headings for group of functions caught my attention. Resizing of form controls - requirements of ADA. Dont normally think of resizing
form controls as happening.
[13:28]  Matt: grouping by heading. Headings in a form makes lots of sense. In web app interface, headings ... web app is becoming more like desktop
app. Labeling with headings...
[13:29]  Jon: headings' importance for navigation. Some browsers support 'heading navigation feature' - more efficiently get to function you want.
Can get tedious to tab places, otherwise.
[13:30]  Hadi: I had Jerry from Mirapoint once try navigating through my 500 messages in my inbox without using a mouse.
[13:31]  Hadi: going through 250 tabs to reach the Send button ... but if you have heading, you can efficiently get to that series of buttons, and
you are then a few clicks away.
[13:31]  Matt: the list makes a lot of sense. Organizing by tasks. I'm not questioning the value of the headings.
[13:32]  Don: good news is the headings dont take a lot to implement.
[13:33]  Hadi: question to Don, re: advertisements. Maybe there are a lot of disabled people who are interested in those ads. Textual description of
those ads?
[13:34]  Don: AOL accessibilty advisory council. I agree having some descriptive text on those ads would be useful.
[13:34]  Jon: make it easy to find those ads just like they can easily find Compose.
[13:36]  Jon: good way to sell accessibility to companies: point out how to make ads more accessible to all people.
[13:36]  Hadi: does anyone have latest number of blind/visually impaired people in United States?
[13:37]  Jon: 800,000 - 1,000,000 people are blind. Visually impaired number in tens of millions.
[13:37]  Hadi: another question for Matt (Mirapoint). You have commercial companies not just educational. do you have to deal with ads?
[13:38]  Matt: advertisements are frowned up on corporate environment.
[13:38]  Matt: the main competitor is MS Outlook. Yahoo mail and others are distractions. We dont expect any need for ads.
[13:39]  Jon: could be not just ads but any sort of information you want to push to audience. Targeted messaging.
[13:40]  Matt: we are starting to look at that. Groupware. New exchange 12 / MS Outlook version. Can get to buddy list and launch an IM chat from your
mail app.
[13:40]  Jon: from accessibility point of view ... make clear the user can get to his buddy list ...
[13:41]  Jon: are frames an important HTML design feature in the future? or going away quickly?
[13:41]  don: going away quickly
[13:41]  Matt: moving away from frames
[13:42]  Ken: yes and no. we dont use normal frames but an i-frame.
[13:42]  Jon: great that you're going away. What is driving force?
[13:42]  Don: doing everything in CSS now. Frames dont fit in with that.
[13:43]  Matt: printing is a major problem with frames.
[13:43]  Don: we are trying to have different style sheets. screen reader view of page versus non-screen-reader view.
[13:44]  Hadi: session timeout. Refresh rate. Enable/disable (missed it). 
[13:44]  Hadi: session timeout. Yahoo had a config setting that let you run your session for 8 hours. Is it a reasonable request  - to put in the 
guideline that session timeout can be configurable?
[13:45]  Don: yes AOL has a setting that lets the user configure it. No reason not to request/require it in a guideline.
[13:45]  Hadi: some people with a disability require longer time.
[13:45]  Don: request rates should be configurable.
[13:46]  Jon: AJAX / web apps, scripting may be intercepting access key...    option to Configure/disable automatic updates. 
[13:47]  Hadi: how to improve? 
[13:48]  Jon: one approach is to use these meetings to help developers ... these are the tasks and these are issues to address with those tasks. Developers
can develop design solutions that will meet that accessibility requirement.
[13:48]  Jon: try to do some grouping. These are related things within the task here -- bring that back to group. These seem to be accessibility issues
related to these features. How do we actualy implement these requirements? what are techniques that are useful? That's my vision for what the group can
[13:51]  Jon: today Hadi and I took two tasks. Composing a message, and viewing a folder. Other tasks would be reading a message, updating address
book, accessing buddy list. Not all web apps have all these features. Come up with a group of functions, group them into "webmail task features". Within
composing mail, set of thigns called "message functions" - cancel, spell check, add an address. Toolbar that has a set of functions. ... grouped into logical
units from an ac
[13:52]  Jon: my approach is to look at, from structure of our best practices, navigation - orientation - text equiv-  styling. From dealings with
other groups, developers on campus or work with Web CT / Blackboard ... we're developing tools to help people check those tecnniques. Funtional accessibilty
evaluator. Mozilla Firefox tool too. Can simplify from a market standpoint being able to check the markup structures. Those tools only help so much. Not
going to tell you
[13:53]  Hadi: everybody here could take a task .... work together on ...
[13:54]  Ken: I'm a heavy gmail user. Certain functions there that dont have one to one mapping with other clients.
[13:55]  (oops previous comment was from Mike I think)
[13:56]  Ken / Mike - accessibility issues? AJAZ / dynamic html. what kind of difficulties are you encountering?
[13:57]  don: doing a lot of work at AOL for web 2.0. w3c group working hard to develop technologies we can use. Jaws has implemetned some of the tech;
firefox has too. AJAX is no longer a problem in that environment. Goal is to move into the web 2.0 world. We're also pressuring Microsoft to change its
browser(s) to support this goal.
[13:58]  Jon: need to bring the work of the w3c into this group. Find where holes are, where things could be improved.
[13:58]  Hadi: thanks everyone for your participation. Any other typical webmail tasks that someone would like to take over and break down?
[13:59]  I got cut off
[13:59]  I got cut off too
[13:59]  Is any one on IRC willing to look at reading mail functions or address book type features for next week?
[13:59]  Gmail uses a different sort of mailbox organization scheme (labels). I can try to write something about it
[14:00]  it seems to me to be something that other clients might emulate
[14:00]  Don what about resding messages
[14:01]  Don reading a message
[14:02]  Hey Jon - can you export the transcript from today's chat?
[14:02]  I havent got that working in my IRC client yet
[14:02]  Have to run now to another meeting that started at 2
[14:04] * Ken has quit IRC (Quit: Ken)

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