WebMail Accessibility Interest Group

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

University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign

All Teleconferences

Teleconference Details

Date: 2006-12-14

Time: 1:00 PM CST


Future teleconferences

I have scheduled all our future teleconferences to make sure that we get the same number and we can schedule it in our calendar ahead of time. here's the list of the teleconferences. The phone number for all of them is: 217 265-9888.

  1. 12/14/2006
  2. 12/21/2006
  3. 01/04/2007
  4. 01/11/2007
  5. 01/18/2007
  6. 01/25/2007
  7. 02/01/2007
  8. 02/08/2007
  9. 02/15/2007
  10. 02/22/2007


  1. Organizational stuff
    • Future teleconferences and members' Availibility
  2. Follow up with our action items:
    • Address book example by Mike
    • Description of the problems with Grid and Tree View examples by John/Don
    • Best Practices by hadi; draft is available at: http://cita.uiuc.edu/collaborate/webmail/

I am pleased to announce that Becky Gipson from IBM will be joining us today as well.


Notes for Webmail Teleconference on December 14, 2006
By: Julio Chavarria

	Becky Gibson
	Ken Petri
	Mike Scott

Next Meeting
	Scribe: Ken Petri
	Date: January 4th
	Agenda: Address Book (Mike); Any other Best Practices Items

	Becky Gibson - Web Accessibility Architect, IBM; Member of WCAG; Working to implement widgets in DOJO and make them 

accessible with the ARIA techniques
	Jon Gunderson - Director of IT Accessibility Services, Disability Resources and Education Services, UIUC
	HadiBargi Rangin - Web Design and Accessibility Specialist, Division of Disability Resources and Educational 

Services, UIUC
	Ken Petrie - Director of Web Accessibility Center, OSU
	Julio Chavarria - Network Analyst, Great Lakes ADA & IT Center - A Disability and Business Technical Assistance 

	Mike Scott - Accessibility Consultant based in Springfield IL
	Srinivas - Accessibility Engineer, Google

	Hadi: December 21 meeting was cancelled due to low attendance. Jon has been working on his example. Jon, can you talk 

a little bit about the status of that? How far you got? I know you and Becky had a very technical discussion yesterday. I 

would like either of you to talk about it.

	Jon: Yeah, I talked to Becky. I learned a lot of things about what work and don't work. One of the things being that 

you cannot put a tabindex On a trow element. It is sort of like this concept of having an item of a row being selected. 

Giving that row focus is not going to work; at least not on any current version of IE or Firefox

	Mike: Can you put it on the children of that row? Or the cells contained in that row? It that the next closest thing 

we can do?

	Jon: The only thing that the "selected" attribute does is really when you move focus to it, it will tell you that it 

got selected.

	Mike: OK.

	Jon: That might still be useful. It could still be something we do or recommend. It's basically an "advisory thing" 

that is basically saying that this "thing" that got focus is also selected. It is probably valuable to do that. The bigger 

issue for me is that it kind of complicates... one of those things that we were hoping for is that if I was just using the up 

and down navigation with the whole row selected, the order of the columns would indicate reading all of that information.

	Hadi: Even they are in different cells, they can be selected all at once. Correct?

	Jon: Right.

	Hadi: You cannot localize your selection to that specific cell.

	Jon: You can, but like if you were just reading down the email and you wanted to use column order to read stuff. You 

know, you hit down arrow to go to the next item. I am not sure if that will worlk. With [an HTML] code interface you do it 

with a table and just go from cell to cell and it will read to you only what is in that particular cell.

	Becky: I see what you are saying. You want it to read everything as you arrow down.

	Hadi: Not necessarily, Becky.

	Jon: On our face to face meeting, we talked about people being able to configure which columns in the email grid they 

wanted and the order of those columns. The purpose behind ordering is that if your are navigating just the rows themselves, 

it would the first columns, the second column, and so on automatically. That way people would have as much or little of the 

row items that they wanted spoken. And then if they wanted to read an individual unit like who is it from or what the subject 

is, then they could use the left and right arrow key to get that information, but it is not clear to me that we can do that 

	The other thing that Becky pointed out was that I was using the group role to kind of group on the "tr" element to 

say that "all this stuff is together as a group". With her guidance, it really probably should be the region element. Region 

is more for when you have a list of items, and you wanted to count how many things are in that group, or "n" items  of "m" or 

second item in a group of eight items. So, you could provide other attributes that would allow people to number different 

items. So group didn't really do what we needed.

	Hadi: Jon or Becky, Could you illustrate where "group" would be used versus "region"?

	Becky: One of the things that I currently use group for; actually I think it is changing because, I think there will 

be a tree group added, bur for today what I use group for is to put tree items together. I put a group around all of the 

items at the same level on the tree. When I expand that, those get visible and they are in a group. Firefox will actually 

count the items in the group. So when you open that item, Firefox will say "five items" or "one of five" because it sees that 

this item is part of a group and it knows that there are five items in the group.

	Hadi: Jon, with the discussion or the hints that Becky gave you, do you think that the [grid] example is in a state 

that we could use to provide as an example of how future great applications should look like.

	Jon: There are a few things that I still have questions on. The next step for this prototype is to take it to the PF 

working group and ask them about some of these issues. In terms of using the "tr" as a tabindex and this issue of what would 

be the appriate markup to use to say that these group of cells could be read as a group as opposed to individually. It seems 

that if cannot read it as a group then being able to at least re-order columns does not seem to be a requirement that we want 

to say because it is not only going to benefit the user that can pick and choose which columns they want, but they will never 

be able to hear all the columns at the same time.

	Becky: Yes, this might be an example. I was thinking that maybe you could put the reading on, when you went down the 

select column and you could put the labeledby. Potentially there could use more than one id to labeledby so it would 

concatenate that information. That would be a change to what they specified labeledby as. That might be one proposal. So that 

you really have one column be the trigger and can read all the others.

	Mike: Becky, has there been some consideration on that with the labeledby? That's something that might be come up in 

some other scenarios.

	BeckY: I am not sure. I did submit comments to the PF group, but I am not sure I put that one in there or not. I have 

seen in other places where they ask "can I have it be more than one?" to concatenate it. That means you have to put an id on 


	Jon: It is an idea and everything. I mean, to my little example. Right now what I have on the select box is that 

there is an actual hidden label on the checkbox. I used a real checkbox, although on a real web application they might not 

have a real checkbox. I do have a label. The label say, "select message x, for message number, with subject blah, blah, blah 

From blah, blah, blah".

	Becky: Okay. So maybe that is what I saw when I was looking at the code.

	Jon: So, it is in there but is is hardwired into the stylesheet. I mean, I guess what was on that label could be 

configurable. But that would be a different congiguration option.

	Becky: You are saying that when you are generating you would just pick the order of their columns and use that and 

give it an id.

	Jon: But there I am adding additional words like "Select message x". If you go further you will find "with subject 

of" but there is no "with the subject of" anywhere on the page to try to make it more human readable.

	Ken: I noticed. I tried it out Jon. It works really nice. I liked the fact that I could be in any column and if I 

arrow down the rows I would hear the labels being read. Doesn't matter where I was in the series of columns, using JAWS. But 

it seems like it was also moving through the rows in the table by using the tab key. I know that if you use it without JAWS 

on, the tab key would still work.

	Jon: I modified the example a little bit. I was playing around with the tabindex. Becky told me another little secret 

yesterterday. If you dynamically generate the tabindex, the "I" must be capitalized for IE to recogize it. Does anybody know 

if you dynamically generate "style" for IE using the setAttribute DOM function. Does IE need it to be a special [format], 

like capital "c" [if you want to dynamically create a class attribute] or capital "s" [if you want to dynamically create a 

'style" attribute on an element]? Because IE doesn't seem to like it when I try to dynamically creat a "class" attribute.

	Mike: I think it is "className", with capital "N". I think the word class is reserved.

	Becky: I think className works for both of them.

	Ken: Are you talking about setting a property Jon?

	Jon: Okay. Right now I am using just "class".

	Mike: That's reserved, but "className" will do it for you. But it is capital "n" in "className".

	Jon: Okay. Let me try that.

	Hadi: While Jon works on the modifications to his example I would like to report on other action items that I would 

consider best practices. I started with it and I added to the website at 

http://cita.uiuc.edu/collaborate/webmail/bestpractices.php. I have never drafted a "Best Practices" document for an entire 

document so if any of you have time to look over it, could you please give me some feedback regarding how it should look 


	Becky: This is the document that is part of your working group page right?

	Hadi: Yeah!

	Ken: Is the right property "labelby" or "labeledby".

	Hadi: I heard yesterday that Jon and Becky were discussing this, I think I heard Becky say it was "labelledby" with 

two "l"s.

	Becky: Right. Two "l"s. The only thing you might want to put under [Treeview] Keyboard Navigation is something like 

what we did, which was "left" will move you up to the parent. But first it would collapse [its children] and then move up to 

the parent.

	Ken: Will it always be the "Enter" key that toggles between expand and contract? Maybe I am remembering incorrectly, 

but wasn't space also assigned to expand and contract?

	Hadi: I think you are right. Pressing space would move "selection" to the "focus" and if you then press "Enter", it 

would trigger the grid view for that specific mailbox.

	Ken: That is the way it is working on Don's example. Up and down arrows to move between. You can collapse or expand 

using right or left. And using the "Enter" key also toggle collapse and expand.

	Hadi: That might be very confusing for a screen reader.

	Mike: I think we talked about that based on kind of mimicing the existing functionality on some of the examples we 

were looking at. I think if we do find some of the redundant behaviour too difficult; if it becomes confusing, we might 

consider scaling back on some of them.

	Hadi: If I am not mistaken, Ken, that "Enter" key opens or closes the folder, but I cannot be easily determined what 

the state is.

	Ken: I don't think that is something we talked about in very much detail, but visually it has a folder icon in front 

of those nodes and it is going to have two states, corresponding to open or closed. I think in past approaches you would 

think of having an alt or title text on that icon that would tell you the state, so that the screen reader user would know. 

But I don't think we did not discuss that specifically when walking through our example.

	Becky: In my examples, where I have trees, I have no "alt" text because when you put focus on the actual title, it 

would say that.

	Ken: Really, whether it is implemented with "alt" text or some other way, the bottom line is there really needs to be 

some way to communicate the state of that. Becky, is there an ARIA state that would correspond to open or closed condition or 

state on a tree.

	Becky: On a tree you can have expanded true or false.

	Ken: Okay, there you go, expanded. So, as long as the screen reader can get that information it should be able to 

identify the state.

	Becky: Actually, we do put the "alt" text in, am sorry, but I marked that as presentational because if the images are 

turned off, then they will know why that blank space is there. And then if you mark it with a role of "presentation" it will 

not be spoken by the screen reader.

	Hadi: I have observed that sometimes screen readers try to be too smart or get the user in trouble because they 

convey information that you did not want or they tell you information that sometimes is not correct. One thing that I would 

personally would like to see in future webmail applications is that we have at least one clear way, not multiple ways, to 

perform the same job. For instance, in this specific example that we just talked about, if the enter key can toggle that, 

between expand and collapse, and we have assigned to left arrow key the functionality to collapse and expand, then adding the 

enter key to do the same thing will make the user more dependent on the screen usage a screen guesses.

	Ken: Some future screen reader would definitely know what is currently selected. It wouldn't have to be guessing.

	Becky: Generally, that is what happens right now. When I have a tree, and I tab into the tree, you are on the first 

element and will read it. When it gets focus, it reads it and it will tell you the state because I have put the state in. I 

know when I am first there if it is expanded or collapsed. And if I hit enter it will tell me again, "Antartica, expanded" 

and then after "expanded", it will tell me how many items it has.

	Ken: Becky, out curiosity, what combination of screen reader-browser do that.

	Becky: Firefox 1.5 or later; Window Eyes 5.5 or later; and JAWS 7.1p. JAWS eight does more with the roles and states 

than earlier basic ones. So, you would hear when you press "Enter" in which state it was. Whether it was expanded or 

collapsed. The same thing with the left or right arrows. It would be spoken.

	Hadi: When you use a screen reader every day for all sorts of tasks..., I just wanted to avoid potential guesses. 

That it doesn't have to read again. That when I press right arrow key, I know it will expand that. When I press left arrow 

key I know it will close. I do not need to rely more on the information that the screen reader will tell me.

	Becky: Okay, I see. So, that is why you might not like it have the left arrow key move up to the parent. First it 

will have to collapse it, and then it will move up to the parent. So you will have to press it twice to...

	Hadi: Correct, to change it back. I don't have a problem with that, but the fact that when you hit enter the screen 

reader will tell you that you are on "tree view and you are three levels down" and gives me five other information that you 

do not need at the time. You only need to know if it is expanded or collapsed.

	Mike: A screen reader could always choose to use a left or right arrow key exclusively if that is most clear and 

easiest. I think we only talked about having an "Enter" key because that is the default behaviour we saw existing [on the 

various email clients we looked at]. We might not decide to use both, but even if we did, having an "Enter" key that enables 

you to toggle, that does not prevent you from using left or right arrow key exclusively to expand or collapse.

	Hadi: On the face to face meeting that we had, I didn't know that space bar does not trigger a link. I thought it was 

the default behaviour of the browser, but I found out it is not. These kind of issues become a problem when communicating.
	Becky, do you see the four major components that I listed there: Grid View, Tree View, Address Book, and 

Controller/Wrapper? Can you think of any other major components appropriate for a webmail application.

	Becky: Maybe a "Preview Pane". I am not sure if that is not necessarily a separate component, but you will need some 

navigation to move between that and grid. Because your address book might be on a separate task pane. It might have different 

tabs. Like reading mail in one, your address book is in another, your calendar is in another. You might not think of that as 

mail though. So including calendaring and scheduling might be going a bit too far.

	Hadi: Let me ask Sre. Google is becoming one of the most popular web clients. What other stuff do you think will be 

included in future webmail.

	Sri: I think we talked about access keys in the past. The basic HTML interface doesn't work very well, but it more 

user friendly than the regular interface. The regular interface is quite complex and is hard for you to navigate through it 

using a screen reader. Some of the fixes will potentially be added in the basic HTML interface. Right now I have an issue at 

hand. How do we solve this problem? Do we go an put all the fixes on the basic HTML interface, where your choices are 

limited? Or do you go fix the regular interface and there you can do many things but there you are adding a lot of wait to 

every using that is using the gmail pages.

	Hadi: Yeah, but in terms of the components I talked about, Address Book, Tree View, wrapper that connects all these 

things together, in a web environment for example, how do you envision that. For example if you add a calendar component to 

that, should it come as an individual widget?

	Becky: Yeah. I am thinking ahead. It should be a separate thing. Take for instance Calendar. Calendar for me is a 

separate task, so Calendar should be a separate application that you show on the same page.

	Hadi: Okay. Jon, are you still working on your example?

	Jon: I was using the setAttribute DOM function to add .style.className with capital "N" but...

	Becky: Oh, it's... 

	Mike: No .style.

	Becky: Right! It's either object.className or object.style.element of the class.

	Mike: Right class is a property of the [element] object not of the style object.

	Ken: Hadi, since I wasn't at the face to face meeting, can you tell me what is the wrapper/controller envisioned to 


	Hadi: Consider you are in tree view and selected a specific folder, and then if you want to move to the grid 

displaying the list of emails in that folder. Some widget needs to take you from the present state of tree view to grid view. 

By wrapper/controller, I meant this. We really did not discuss this in detailed. We just mentioned that we needed some 

individual widgets to connect these things together.

	Jon: It works on IE! Thanks Mike and Becky. I guess you have to know the secret code! 


	Becky: Space is doing something weird.

	Jon: Yeah. when you hit the space bar it moves to the bottom of the page.

	Hadi: To summarize our actions for our next meeting, Jon you and Don wanted to write down you questions pass it to 

the ARIA group and the PF working group. I don't know to which one you wanted to send it. Do you think by next meeting you 

will have some responses from them? So that we can put on the meeting agenda or not?

	Jon: I doubt it.

	Hadi: For Next Meeting we will have Mike talk about the address book. I would very much would like to have your input 

on the Best Practices. As a kind of homework, if you come across anything that you think is useful for the Best Practices 

send it to me. 

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