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Method To Provide Accessibility to Dynamic Web Applications

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000013109D
Original Publication Date: 2003-Jun-13
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-13
Document File: 3 page(s) / 53K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

The focus of this document is to convey a method to allow accessibility for dynamic content served from a web application from an individual page based on appropriate menubar options that describe actions or content. Such examples of web applications include, but not limited to, Servlets and Common Gateway Interface (CGI) applications. The core idea merges the facts that all pages within an application may have navigation that changes based on the page served and that these dynamic menus need to be accessible in all cases.

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Method To Provide Accessibility to Dynamic Web Applications

   A large percentage of web sites on the Internet are static web sites. With these web sites, there may exist some portion of the navigation that is client driven. Such as the case with menubars that allow individuals with sight the advantage of quickly selecting their navigation to obtain desired information and activity. Visually impaired people today use special web browsers that will speak the information of the relative hypertext markup language (HTML) page. However, since it is very difficult for visually impaired people to operate a mouse, the quick navigation of the menubar is nearly impossible without the use of sight.

     Very often the menubar is driven by some type of client-side functionality, such as JavaScript*. Because the appearance of the menus are driven by an event, such as a mouse click or mouse over event, the visually impaired individuals do not hear the menu options because they are hidden from view of the page. This serves as a problem for accessibility.

     Static web sites achieve accessibility by allowing top-level menu items to be 'tabbed' or selected. The submenu items are not available because the element is hidden in the browser and doesn't have any scope. Thus, the top-level menubar link allows an individual to navigate to the right category of content. The submenu item links are then contained somewhere in that respective page as anchors in order to allow focus of the tab key. This creates the illusion that the web site is accessible to the visually impaired because all links are given as HTML anchors somewhere in the site. Since all form elements and anchors are allowed to get focus by way of 'tab' on the keyboard, navigation is then accessible to the visually impaired.

     The focus of this document is to convey a method to allow accessibility for dynamic content served from a web application from an individual page based on appropriate menubar options that describe actions or content. Such examples of web applications include, but not limited to, Servlets and Common Gateway Interface (CGI) applications. The core idea merges the facts that all pages within an application may have navigation that changes based on the page served and that these dynamic menus need to be accessible in all cases.

     Therefore, extensible markup language (XML) can be used to abstract the client-side functionality into partial strings of code that are loaded into memory of the server upon startup. Data containers are written in some language to hold the partial strings. These containers have appropriate methods to build the correct strings (or lines of code) to be output as client-side functionality, such as JavaScript, in the correct HTML page served from the web application. Thus, allowing dynamic strings of JavaScript to be built and sent to each individual page.

     Because the client-side functionality is abstracted in XML, it allows multiple advantages. These advantages incl...