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Understanding Pointer Cancellation: Why WCAG 2.1 So Clearly Excludes Down Events

taught by: Christina Adams

Session Summary:

Requirements may sound simple: when the user clicks the mouse or presses this key, do something. To a developer, though, there are a multitude of ways to implement this behavior: up, down, pointer, or touch events. Whether you are a developer, designer or business lead, understanding the impact down events will lead to a web experience that’s free of frustration for everyone. With no pre-requisite code knowledge required, this course will introduce you to pointer events, the impact of the chosen method, and the users who will thank you for considering their needs.

Description:

Requirements may sound simple: when the user clicks the mouse or presses this key, do something. To a developer, though, there are a multitude of ways to implement this behavior: up, down, pointer, or touch events. In principle, these have the same effect, but for users with disabilities, the choice can make or break the entire experience. If you plan to test your site against WCAG 2.1, you’ll need to understand down events in order to test against success criterion 2.5.2 Pointer Cancellation.

What is a down event and why is it so clearly excluded for WCAG-conformant sites? When you press a key or click your mouse, the browser sees two events: you pressing down and you lifting up. For users with limited mobility or low vision, the ability to cancel the resulting function is more than a matter of convenience. A user may have finally made it to the button they want to press and quickly realizes they’ve made a mistake. A well-coded site can easily account for this scenario.

Presented by a developer and a wannabe-developer, everyone—regardless of coding skills—will leave with understanding how browsers respond to events and the users who are impacted. We’ll introduce you to JavaScript events, accessibility ramifications and suggestions for clarifying communication among web professionals. We’ll dive deep into down-events, the multiple ways of coding them, experiencing the results, and analyzing the accessible or inaccessible nature of these choices. Perhaps more relevant to those without a development background, you’ll leave with tools and lingo to better communicate with your development teams.

We will look at the similarities and differences of keyboard and pointer events and discuss their user impact and the aspects a developer would need to be aware of for proper implementation and maintaining an accessible experience.

Practical Skills:

  • The impact pointer events have upon users with and without disabilities
  • The code structure of pointer events
  • Communicating with developers about their choices of pointer events (even if you don’t know much code)