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Accessibility and Usability Forum

Scrolling divs and usability
Are scrolling divs a no-no?

 4:39 pm on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Let me start off by saying I definitely have a bias away from scrolling divs and/or iframes. However, the graphic artist insists it is wonderful and he wants me to use it. What are your thoughts, positive or negative, about the usability/accessibility of scrolling divs? I've seen enough places that scream "Kill'em" but don't go into detail on why.



 5:37 pm on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

I find they don't support old browsers very well, although I have seen some that seem to work OK. I don't like them myself.

In my book, lack of legacy support is a showstopper.


 8:22 pm on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm not concerned so much about backwards compatibility at this point. I'm more concerned about any usability or accessibility issue. I am very frustrated by what I've found on the web thus far doing a search in Google for "scrolling div" usability. Like I said, people keep saying they are a no-no, don't use them, but they won't go into why.


 8:46 pm on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

I believe that screen readers don't support them well at all.

I would suggest giving your site a once-over with this [webaim.org]. I need to install it on one of my Windows VMs because I just found out my nice new Intel Mac won't work with it.


 12:51 pm on Jan 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks much! I did mention input devices having issues with scrolling divs, but I was actually told that if it wasn't law, we didn't have to make sure our sites work for those with disabilities. That just takes the cake!


 1:10 pm on Jan 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well, I know it's open to interpretation, but inaccessible websites are against the law [webmasterworld.com ]


 1:51 pm on Jan 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

I will have to remember to bring that up. I don't know that a scrolling div makes the site inaccessible though. Not that I am in any way defending scrolling divs, I just don't have a good answer right now as to why scrolling divs are an accessibility or usability issue.


 2:58 pm on Jan 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Scrolling <div> elements may actually be OK for blind readers, as all the text is on the page for the reader to pick up.

I would certainly recommend a scrolling <div> over an <iframe>.

However, where they become an issue is for people with limited motor control. Quadrapalegics, stroke victims, etc.

That goes for any scrolling elements on the page, not just <div> elements.

That also goes for elements that you hide on the page, like print headers and layout elements that are not being used. A blind reader will often find all of them, and dutifully read them off to the poor hapless victim upon whom you are inflicting your page.

All that being said, you can't cripple your site to serve those with additional accessibility needs, or you wind up with a butt-ugly site that the vast majority of your users will find unattractive. I tend to make sure that my sites validate WAI Priority 3, and usually ignore many of the warnings if they will interfere with the presentation of my pages. That's more than 99% of the sites out there.

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