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: 2007-01-18

Time: 1:00 PM CST



Minutes from Web Accessibility Interest Group Meeting
January 19, 2007


  • Matt Anderson (Mirapoint)
  • Hadi Rangin (UIUC)
  • Don Evans (AOL)
  • Tom Wlodkowski (AOL)
  • Becky Gibson (IBM)
  • Jon Gunderson (UIUC)
  • Julio Chavarria (Great Lakes Center)


  • Ken Petri, Ohio State University

Next Meeting

February 1, 2007

Becky is unavailable for that meeting.

This week’s Agenda

  1. Welcome Tom Wlodowski, Director for Accessibility at AOL
  2. Focus issue with TR element (review)
  3. Improve Grid Example (Jon and Hadi)
  4. Address book widget example (Mike Scot)


Table Row focus issue.

The behavior of FF and IE seem to be different with respect to the TR. Jon’s examples put focus on different elements:

  1. rows,
  2. table element then rows,
  3. table rows and then data cells,
  4. data cells.

A second difference exists between IE an FF with the onblur event behaviors. Becky: the different behaviours are not viewed as bugs by FF because the focus still remains within the table. Jon: the event handlers seem to differ between FF and IE.

Tom W: Question regarding webmail applications – In email app, is it necessary to have all of the cells be tab-able? The row may be good enough for consumer webmail advocates.

Best Practices link for grid control

Jon: We want a matrix of the behaviors we are looking for in the email summary (table listing of messages). An example exists in the best practices section in the website. Email Summary Grid: FF behavior with tabbing. IE second tab takes you to the first link past the grid. FF with Window Eyes, checkbox is read Window Eyes with IE, goes to the first row but the checkbox is not read. What can the author of the markup do with respect to how the screen readers will behave? ARIA needs to look at the issues from diff angles, grids for spread sheets vs. multi-column lists like in webmail. Webmail app screen reader users want to arrow through the messages (rows).

Discussion from Matt, Jon, Hadi and Tom: We need to describe the user experience requirements for webmail users and screen reader users in particular. Linearization of tables’ 5 rows x 5 columns number of tabs through the information (links).

Hadi: Users will want to be able to choose which columns to view and in which order.

Tom: agreed with this, many screen reader users know the commands needed to access specific areas. Once the order is decided, Tom stated that users will want to arrow through rows quickly to see the information they want rather than tab through every cell.

Hadi: suggests that the screen readers could behave differently, possibly linearize the data cells for data grids (spreadsheets).

Tom: suggested we may want to request/recommend another role for the grid to support webmail-type grids that are different from standard data grids.

Jon: suggested ARIA would probably be open to adding a property to the grid specification to support the specific behaviour desired for mail grids.

Don: can we do some combination of web 1.0 and web 2.0 to meet certain desired behaviours as best practice.

Jon: agreed that we would want to be able to make recommendations for what we want and then ask IBM and other leading companies to influence the screen reader developers to meet the best practices recommendations from ARIA and the webmail focus group.

Hadi: what happened if a user clicks on the Sender link? See the messages from that sender or compose a message to the Sender?

Becky: in Gmail you see the list of mails from that sender;

Matt: In today’s Mirapoint (Web 1.0) the default behavior is to open the message for reading in a popup. With Web 2.0 we could get the popup to compose a reply.

Becky: if I can sort the columns and Find things by the first letter that would be good enough. Becky doesn’t think of email being a different with regard to Accessibility requirements.

Tom: sorting to have the Sender in the first column, or Subject, then arrow down and hit Enter to read the message that would be much easier for the user. Without this webmail is very tiring for users to process.

Tom, Becky: Discussion about how to do multiple selections, with non-contiguous rows, how to delete the multiple selections. Can we keep the focus on a column as I arrow down the rows, once a column is selected.

Becky: yes, this is done in one of the grid examples. In the Mozilla site it reads the cell, in Jaws example it doesn’t read the cell that it is focused on. Hadi has written a report on his tests of the various grid examples.

Tom: the trick will be minimizing the required markup. We’re going to have to throw requirements over the fence at the screen readers to make the behavior functions.

Action Items

  • Jon and Hadi: continue with analysis of the grid example
  • Hadi: provide his report comparing grid performance
  • Matt, Srinivas: user experience for grids in Web 2.0 webmail systems
  • Mike: Address book presentation

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