Accessibility Questions: Nested ordered list as navigation breadcrumb

E.J. Zufelt everett at
Mon Jun 21 19:24:16 UTC 2010

At the end of the day I really don't think it matters too much, as long as the usage is consistent.

Hierarchical lists of only one item can be annoying as some screen-readers announce list start, list end, for each list... but it does convey more meaning.

A flat list serves the purpose of showing some relationship between the items, and is semantic... it is after all a flat list of related single items.

No list lacks any real semantic connection, which is often then represented with a character like >, but depending on the character used some screen-readers ignore the character as it is an unsupported decorative symbol.

Everett Zufelt

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On 2010-06-21, at 3:11 PM, Michael S Elledge wrote:

> Hi Jonathan--
> You may want to go with no list at all, and with the Item 1 > Item 2 > Item 3 sequence that has become conventional--if not very logical for screen reader users.
> Otherwise I wonder if screen reader users might confuse it with the navigation bar. Just a thought.
> Mike
> Jonathan Hung wrote:
>> Hi everyone,
>> A navigation breadcrumb is typically a sequence of text links implying a hierarchical relationship between breadcrumbs. A logical implementation in HTML would be to use an ordered list, however there are two approaches to doing this:
>> 1. A flat ordered list.
>> 2. A nested ordered list.
>> Example: Item 1 > Item 2 > Item 3
>> Approach 1 - Flat List: <ol><li>Item 1</li> <li>Item 2</li> <li>Item 3</li></ol>
>> Approach 2 - Nested List: <ol><li>Item 1</li> <li><ol><li>Item 2</li> <li><ol><li>Item 3</li></ol></li></ol></li></ol>
>> Question 1: Which of these approaches would be preferred with respect to accessible navigation? The nested list approach carries more relational information, but may be unnecessary.  Seems to me that Approach 2 is better suited for a menu system and not necessarily for flat navigation.
>> Question 2: Is there an alternative implementation that should be considered?
>> Thanks!
>> - Jonathan.
>> ---
>> Jonathan Hung / jhung.utoronto at <mailto:jhung.utoronto at>
>> Fluid Project - ATRC at University of Toronto
>> Tel: (416) 946-3002
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