Nearly three years ago we published a blog entry titled The plague of outline:0. At the time, it was becoming increasingly common for web sites to disable the focus indicators for links via CSS, thus making it nearly impossible for sighted keyboard users to determine which link currently has keyboard focus. Unfortunately, in recent years, this trend has continued with many popular web sites removing the focus indicator, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, AOL, CNN, MySpace, ESPN, etc. Visit these pages and (assuming you have vision), try to navigate via the keyboard to see how entirely inaccessible this renders these web sites.
As noted in the original article, many of these sites use a CSS reset file that removes the focus indicator. One of the most popular of these reset files is Eric Meyer’s reset.css. In a recent update to reset.css, Eric has now commented out the line that removes focus indicators, thus requiring author intervention to re-enable it. UPDATE: Today Eric posted some thoughts about how best to address this.
A few months ago, the code at HTML5 Reset was launched without focus indicators. This was called to their attention on Twitter and within a few hours they had reintroduced keyboard focus indicators by default.
The recently launched OutlineNone.com web site draws attention to the distinct accessibility issues of removing focus indicators. Roger Johansson, among others, has also wrote on this topic – Do not remove the outline from links and form controls.
WebAIM applauds all of these efforts. Combined, perhaps they will change the course of this phenomena. They certainly have raised awareness of this significant, yet easily removed and even more easily avoided accessibility issue.