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  1. #26
    SitePoint Zealot twistie's Avatar
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    I always use valid markup and CSS (well sometimes not for clients websites if they want something specific that can't be done validly). I always check my colors for any visability problems for the color-blind or those who have a color vision deficiency. I also go for the basics including alt text with no flash, movies or sounds. I also do cross browser checks including text-only browsers and check that all my pages are usable using keyboards only and do not break when text size is really large or really small. I make sure it is visible without horizontal scrolling on a minimum dimension of 800X600 and ensure that it doesn't break on dimensions lower or higher than that.

    As for the discussion of drop-down menus I always ensure that the lower levels are accessible by navigating to a page that can be accessed by clicking the top level link where the second level is displayed by default. This also means the it works for those without Javascript.

  2. #27
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Tailslide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by distortedrage View Post
    I've been wondering about this with a dropdown I added to my site the other day. I'm not too concerned about people being able to access the first dropdown with the mouse, but I have a second tier dropdown (dropdown within a dropdown) which does require some good dexterity to reach without the mouse falling off the side of the dropdown.
    I haven't come across too many dropdowns/flyouts that are really accessible. There's the Accessible Son of Suckerfish by Matthew Carroll which is keyboard navigable and this one - http://www.twinhelix.com/dhtml/fsmenu/ which is also keyboard navigable (but not so great with JS off).

    Brothercake's UDM4 is probably the most accessible but it's not free.

    As you say - even if they're keyboard navigable (which was one of the main problems) they can be just plain awkward for people to use with a mouse!
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  3. #28
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy KLB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by distortedrage View Post
    Yeah, dropdowns do throw a spanner in the works there! I'm sure you can do that though, I just can't remember how Or maybe I'm imagining it - quite possible.
    Nope, I couldn't find a way. MSIE is broken in some bad ways. I had to do a lot of stupid stuff because of MSIE. If MSIE properly supported CSS and browsers properly zoomed, I wouldn't have had to make some of the compromises I did. But it came down to realizing not everyone could use all the bells and whistles of my site like the top menu. There is an alternative menu so everyone can still access the content. Really the top menu is only intended to be an extra feature that can enhance the site for those who can support it. I never intended it to be a primary make or break feature. The side menu, the bottom menu and the linking of the title graphic to the main page give everyone access to all sections of the site.

    Quote Originally Posted by distortedrage View Post
    Yeah, what's with that? Seems like a lot of people seem to have lost the point of the term "accessible" which does not mean anything to do with vision problems necessarily. Vision problems are an important factor in accessibility but it's not even the most major thing IMO. The most important accessibility issue is web browser compatibility - a huge number of people aren't going to be able to access your site if it doesn't work in IE6!
    This is my point about full page zooming vs. text scaling. To support text scaling I would have had to make lots of functionality compromises which would have affected functionality for the majority of my users (e.g. no drop down menu), and people using alternative web browsing tools (e.g. PDAs and dynamic Braille displays). I had to try and find a balance. Sure some things get screwed up on my site when only the text is scaled, but for the most part those users can still access most of my content, it just isn't optimized for them.


    Quote Originally Posted by distortedrage View Post
    I've been wondering about this with a dropdown I added to my site the other day.
    Just don't make it the sole method of navigation. Even with my drop down each of the "tabs" has a direct link to a page that "mirrors" the menu items for the respective drop down menu. In addition all of the most "important" menu items are also available via the right hand menu and one can always use a link at the very top and very bottom of each page to get back to the site "directory".
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  4. #29
    SitePoint Zealot
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    It's interesting to read the various replies.
    I would agree that drop down menus are a real pain, I used to use them on a regular basis, but have returned to using textural links or roll overs with ALT back-end coding.
    Accessibility should cover all aspects of physical disability. Another problem is colour blindness again how far do you alter the Aesthetics of your site so that people with different forms of colour blindness can view your site without being unable to tell the difference between text and background. I know that you can turn off style but browsers set the colour options.
    I have found that setting out the site in order so that it can be reproduced in the correct order for navigation is probably the most important aspect of design,(apart from ALT's on pictures) but this can be restrictive. Especially if you have a client who wants their navigation in an unusual position.
    I also have to tell clients who want a flash site that they must have an alternative because of problems with accessibility (This often causes grief as they don't like the extra expense).
    I think that I will ensure that unless I am building a specific accessible site I will keep to the main guidelines, but not go that extra mile unless I feel that it is imperative for the site to have every aspect of accessibility included.

  5. #30
    SitePoint Wizard
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    I do quite a bit for my main website. The markup is clean and as semantic as possible. Most images are placed via CSS (for example the logo uses a method like SitePoint to preserve the text there underneath the image). All content is labeled with headers (some hidden to most users). All external links have the text " (external link)" after them, which is hidden from normal users.

    I do have accesskeys, but I do question their usefulness.

    Plus I make changes a lot as I observe things done on other websites.

  6. #31
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Tailslide's Avatar
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    I wouldn't bother with Accesskeys - they're one of those things that sounded like a good idea at the time but can actually detract from a site's usability.
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  7. #32
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy KLB's Avatar
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    If there were "standardized" accesskeys that are intended to do the same thing across all sites (e.g. a standard shortcut to get to the site "directory") I would use them. I'm even looking at using the rel="[first/next/prev]" attribute in some instances. Although this will require going back into old content.
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  8. #33
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Tyssen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KLB View Post
    To do this the contents of the left column has to appear after the middle and right columns in the HTML source. To do this I had to go to fixed width columns.
    You can do that without fixed width columns.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tailslide View Post
    I haven't come across too many dropdowns/flyouts that are really accessible. There's the Accessible Son of Suckerfish by Matthew Carroll which is keyboard navigable and this one - http://www.twinhelix.com/dhtml/fsmenu/ which is also keyboard navigable (but not so great with JS off).
    I wrote a round-up of various dropdown menus with comments on their accessibility but I'm not allowed to link to stuff on my own site.

    Quote Originally Posted by charmedlover View Post
    All external links have the text " (external link)" after them, which is hidden from normal users.
    Couldn't you just add that to the title attribute and then it would be available to all users?

  9. #34
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy KLB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyssen View Post
    You can do that without fixed width columns.
    For my purposes I can not. Among other reasons I need fixed width columns for the outer columns (especially the left column) some of the data tables really depend upon predictable widths of the overall site.

    Finally as I have stated, I firmly believe that it is the responsibility of the browser to zoom correctly. I have been developing this site for twelve years this coming fall and I have made great pains to support web standards for almost as long. There are limits, however, and I know that I want a certain look and functionality. At some point there has to be a limit to sacrificing functionality and design for the majority to support the minority. There also has to be a balance between what is expected out of the design of websites and what web developers can expect out of browsers.

    Quite frankly I've grown tired of making compromises because certain browsers (e.g. MSIE) don't properly support specifications and standards themselves. I want my site to function in a certain manner and I want the layout to be a certain way. Yes I have an alternative layout for PDA's and those who do not support CSS or Javascript, I even have an alternative layout printer friendly layout; however, I am no longer willing to compromise my primary screen layout just because browsers do not zoom properly.
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  10. #35
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    Sorry, may I ask a out-of-topic question?

    Any business opportunity by making a web site accessible? I would like to comply with the accessible rule, but I also doubt any visual impaired ppl will visit my site and finally make payment. Perhaps you can give us some hints
    Last edited by janetsmith; Jun 16, 2007 at 19:27.

  11. #36
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy KLB's Avatar
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    If you have an ecommerce site making the site accessible would enable visually impaired the ability to buy stuff from you. Whether they are interested in your products is another story.
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  12. #37
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyssen View Post
    Couldn't you just add that to the title attribute and then it would be available to all users?
    All users with browsers that support and display title attributes.
    Titles are not for important information. There is no guarantee that they will be shown, and even if they are you have to hover the mouse cursor above the element to see them. They are pretty much inaccessible to keyboard users.

    Quote Originally Posted by janetsmith View Post
    I also doubt any visual impaired ppl will visit my site and finally make payment.
    Pardon me for asking, but what makes you think that a person with a visual impairment doesn't buy things? (Setting aside the fact that accessibility is about much more than visual impairment.)

    People who are blind or have low vision need to buy things just as people with 20/20 vision. And someone with a visual impairment is quite likely to have sighted friends for whom they may occasionally want to buy things.
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  13. #38
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Tailslide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyssen View Post
    I wrote a round-up of various dropdown menus with comments on their accessibility but I'm not allowed to link to stuff on my own site.
    I guess I can though!

    John's Excellent roundup of Dropdowns

    Quote Originally Posted by janetsmith View Post
    Sorry, may I ask a out-of-topic question?

    I would like to comply with the accessible rule, but I also doubt any visual impaired ppl will visit my site and finally make payment.
    Again - accessibility isn't just about the visually impaired!!!

    And anyway - visually impaired doesn't just mean blind. The older I get (and the longer I spend sat in front of a monitor) the harder it is for me to read some websites - and I'm only in my late 30s (very late..).
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  14. #39
    SitePoint Wizard
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    I was able to get my content to be first in the markup (even though it is the middle column). I had to add a wrapper element, which I really did not like (I like as little markup as possible).

    The values are percentages, but in IE I have a width for the body set because the scaling down to smaller screens doesn't handle so well in IE. However, all the other browsers get the resisable code.

    So I feel KLB's pain when it comes to making your content come first (which is really important for accessibility).

  15. #40
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy KLB's Avatar
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    Charmedlover, out of curiosity I started to play around with keyboard navigation in the different browsers on my site and ran into a road block with Opera.

    My entire site is laid out such that links appear in the HTML source in the order in which they should get focus. I have always coded this way to eliminate the need to use the TABINDEX attribute, which is logistically impossible for my site. Netscape (back to the earliest days), MSIE and Firefox have always handled this very nicely and one could navigate my site with reasonable ease just using a keyboard.

    I have discovered, however, that Opera is acting completely retarded on my site. First when I hit tab, Opera jumps focus to one of my search forms and will not tab through the page's links unless they have a TABINDEX attribute, which is logistically impossible for me to implement. If I try to move through the links using the "Q" and "A" keys as Opera suggests, Opera has a habit of picking up one of the links in the left-hand column first and cycling down that column and across the footer links before getting back to the header links. This is utterly stupid. It makes no sense. The link Opera is locking onto is 3/4 of the way through the HTML source.


    All tabbing should be in the order of the HTML source UNLESS the web designer indicates otherwise. This means forms should NOT get focus before their time and then once they do get focus they should easily give it up. If Opera is going to use the "Q" and "A" keys for navigation then they also should start with the first link in the HTML source.

    Tabbing through links and form fields on a page in the order they appear in the HTML source is a behavior we have been able to depend on since the very beginning (e.g Mosaic). Opera deciding to reinvent this behavior is arrogant and stupid. It is an example of where Opera defines customary "standards" for no good reason.
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  16. #41
    SitePoint Addict dAEk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KLB View Post
    If I try to move through the links using the "Q" and "A" keys as Opera suggests, Opera has a habit of picking up one of the links in the left-hand column first and cycling down that column and across the footer links before getting back to the header links. This is utterly stupid. It makes no sense. The link Opera is locking onto is 3/4 of the way through the HTML source.
    That is because it's buggy. This issue has been brought up a few times over at the Opera community forums. Fortunately there are other ways to navigate through web pages. For instance, try pressing shift+up, shift+down, shift+left or shift+right. Amongst Opera users, I'd say it is used more compared to A and Q but don't quote me on that.

    Using the keyboard in Opera.
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  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by KLB View Post
    Charmedlover, out of curiosity I started to play around with keyboard navigation in the different browsers on my site and ran into a road block with Opera.
    I rarely use A/Q to navigate between links in Opera, except on sites I've made myself so that I know the tab order. For all other sites I use spatial navigation (Shift+arrows) and I would assume most Opera users with keyboard preferences do the same. Spatial navigation is without a doubt far superior to the keyboard navigation schemes in any other browser I've seen.

    Since few sites consider keyboard navigation, the tab order is usually anything but useful. Spatial navigation is the logical response to that, since it sets aside the tab order and uses the visual order instead.

    My only gripe with it is that Opera doesn't support the :focus pseudo-class, but insists on always using its own highlighting scheme.

    Quote Originally Posted by KLB View Post
    Opera deciding to reinvent this behavior is arrogant and stupid.
    Ken, we already know that you're a long-time Opera hater since you thought they were out to destroy your advertising revenue. You can turn the venom level down a few notches now. The ads are gone and it doesn't look like Opera is going to take over the world anytime soon.

    I, too, have noticed that A/Q navigation can sometimes start in odd places. I think it's a minor problem that doesn't warrant words like 'arrogant' and 'stupid', since Opera provides spatial navigation as a superior way to navigate by keyboard. Few people are likely to be seriously affected by these quirks.
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  18. #43
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy KLB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dAEk View Post
    That is because it's buggy.
    Speaking of Opera bugs, is Opera ever going to get around to fixing their table border bug that generates ghost borders on some table every now and then. See my page http://environmentalchemistry.com/yogi/periodic/ for an example of this. I know Opera has been aware of this for a couple of years now and my has been used in the Opera forums as an example of the bug. The page fully validates to W3C HTML4.01 Strict and CSS2 specifications. The rendering of the periodic table isn't always screwed up, but most of the time it is.

    For those who claim Opera is more standards compliant than other browsers the whole keyboard navigation and rendering of my table are two examples where Opera has long known about issues that have not been resolved.
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  19. #44
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy KLB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    Ken, we already know that you're a long-time Opera hater since you thought they were out to destroy your advertising revenue.
    This is where you are mistaken. Yes I had grievances with Opera Software the company, which are in the past as they have changed their business model. But I've never hated the browser itself. In fact I used to use Opera as my primary browser before the business practices issue.

    Overall, Opera is a very good browser, but it still has issues and since we are talking about accessibility and Opera users like to talk about how superior Opera is, the fact that Opera does not do keyboard navigation correctly is a pretty major accessibility issue that should be fixed. It is a perfect example of the fact that accessibility isn't only the responsibility of the web developer, but it is also the responsibility of the browser developer.

    I use Firefox, but I have also criticized Firefox for its long unfixed issues (e.g. the tooltip bug which has gone unfixed for years). Criticizing a product doesn't mean one hates a product. Often times it just means that one sees room for improvement. Calling a accessibility issue like not being able to tab through links correctly a minor issue is blind allegiance. So is attacking one's motives for criticizing one's favored thing. Opera nor any web browser should be worshiped as one worships a religion. It is a piece of software and like all software it is not perfect. It is entirely appropriate to point out flaws in the software to put pressure on the software's developers to fix the flaw and make the program better.
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  20. #45
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Tyssen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KLB View Post
    It is entirely appropriate to point out flaws in the software to put pressure on the software's developers to fix the flaw and make the program better.
    But using words like 'arrogant' and 'stupid' is an entirely inappropriate way to point out flaws.

  21. #46
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    I have always used the spatial link navigation or ,+terms to search through links. Both seem much superior.

    Opera starts a/q in a wierd spot, but Firefox (using TAB) doesn't start it on my first link in my source either.

    I also cannot seem to find any standards for keyboard navigation from the W3C...

    I would also like to point out that when you run Opera without the author style sheet or with a predefined user style sheet (like the accessibility layout) the a/q works fine.

  22. #47
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy KLB's Avatar
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    Tyssen, my arrogant comment is about Opera fan boys who believe that Opera's way is always right and if there is a problem it is the website's fault even when it is documented that the site did things right. Two cases in point are tabbing and the table border issue I referenced here and documented a couple years ago on Opera's forums.

    Charmedlover. There is only one correct way for the web browser to tab through a webpage if the tabindex attribute is not used. The browser MUST tab through links in the order in which they appear in the HTML source and it must start with the first link on the page. This is the way it has always been and it does not need to be reinvented.
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  23. #48
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Tyssen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KLB View Post
    Tyssen, my arrogant comment is about Opera fan boys who believe that Opera's way is always right and if there is a problem it is the website's fault even when it is documented that the site did things right.
    I'm not an Opera fanboy but I am a bit anal when it comes to people putting up flimsy arguments. You said:

    Quote Originally Posted by KLB
    Opera deciding to reinvent this behavior is arrogant and stupid.
    Nothing in there about 'fanboys'; you're talking about Opera the browser or the company behind the browser. If that's not what you meant, then you should've said so or at least qualified your statement in response to Tommy's post.

    Quote Originally Posted by KLB
    There is only one correct way for the web browser to tab through a webpage if the tabindex attribute is not used. The browser MUST tab through links in the order in which they appear in the HTML source and it must start with the first link on the page. This is the way it has always been and it does not need to be reinvented.
    Care to point us to the documentation on this or is it just your personal belief?

  24. #49
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy KLB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyssen View Post
    Care to point us to the documentation on this or is it just your personal belief?
    I don't know how long you have been using the web or developing websites, but I've been using the web for 13 years and have been developing websites for 12 years. I have used browsers as far back as Mosaic, Netscape 1.x and Lynx. Heck the first browser I used I believe was called Omni Web and ran on NeXT computers. Through all those years the tab key has ALWAYS allowed one to navigate through links in the order they are displayed on the webpage AND the navigation has ALWAYS started with the first link. I have always depended upon this behavior when designing my websites and have always gone to great lengths to make sure my links showed up in the correct order in the HTML source (even with multi-column designs) so that users would have the optimal tab order.

    The only exception I am aware of to the tab key behavior has been Opera.

    Opera is trying to reinvent a standard way 99.4% of users (e.g. everyone but Opera users) are able to navigate through links and form fields via the keyboard. If Opera wants to add the little shift + arrow navigation, fine, but to remove/reinvent/break the normal and customary behavior of the tab key is foolish and yes arrogant.

    What logical justification could there be for starting the tabbing through links anywhere but on the first link? The shift/arrow key combination is not intuitive and I would not have figured that out had someone not told me. Everyone knows and/or intuitively tries to use the tab key if they want to navigate via the keyboard because this the primary keyboard navigation key for almost all applications. Heck it even works in Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access.

    There was no compelling reason to change the tab key's behavior. It was only change for the sake of change and it removed the simplest single finger navigation method traditionally available to users.

    Why can't you see that Opera is not always the gold standard and that sometimes changes Opera makes are wrong headed. To always defend Opera and try to make us believe that Opera is always right is also arrogant.

    Just like Microsoft, Apple and yes Mozilla, Opera Software developers sometimes do really stupid things and Opera fanboys should be big enough to call out Opera when it is doing something stupid.

    In another thread Charmedlover asked why people don't use Opera. Stupid stuff like changing normal browsing behaviors and thus disorienting people is one reason people reject Opera. Apple had better learn from Opera's mistakes and start to ensure Safari preforms in a way that Windows users expect if they want Safari to have any more success than Opera.
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  25. #50
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by KLB View Post
    Overall, Opera is a very good browser, but it still has issues and since we are talking about accessibility and Opera users like to talk about how superior Opera is, the fact that Opera does not do keyboard navigation correctly is a pretty major accessibility issue that should be fixed.
    I agree that Opera should fix A/Q navigation so that it starts at the top of the document (markup wise). It does follow links in the source order, as far as I have seen; it just starts in odd places at times.

    From an accessibility point of view, it's not a major issue, though. Opera provides spatial navigation as a power alternative to the primitive tab back and forth mechanism. An Opera user who needs keyboard navigation, or merely prefers it, like me, can still access the links via keyboard. Ergo, accessibility does not suffer.

    Quote Originally Posted by KLB View Post
    I use Firefox, but I have also criticized Firefox
    Did you call their developers arrogant and stupid as well?

    Quote Originally Posted by KLB View Post
    Criticizing a product doesn't mean one hates a product.
    No, but constructive criticism is usually more productive than name-calling. I've criticised Opera, pointing out a couple of issues where it didn't comply with the CSS specification. I did so by providing minimal examples that showed the error and by pointing out how it should be. Guess what – their allegedly arrogant and stupid developers had fixed both issues by the next release.

    Quote Originally Posted by KLB View Post
    Calling a accessibility issue like not being able to tab through links correctly a minor issue is blind allegiance.
    First, you are able to 'tab' through links using A/Q. The only quirk is that the sequence sometimes doesn't start at the first link.
    Secondly, there is a better way for keyboard navigation, viz., spatial navigation. That makes keyboard navigation more accessible in Opera than in other browsers.
    Thus, there is no real accessibility issue with keyboard navigation in Opera.
    Stating otherwise is spreading FUD.
    I don't pledge blind allegiance to Opera, but I think it deserves fair treatment.

    Quote Originally Posted by KLB View Post
    It is entirely appropriate to point out flaws in the software to put pressure on the software's developers to fix the flaw and make the program better.
    You'll get no argument from me on that point. I have done this and the flaws were indeed fixed.
    But there's a big difference between pointing out flaws in software and calling a company arrogant and stupid.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane


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