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RE: Access Keys


From: John Foliot - bytown internet
Date: Mar 27, 2002 9:49AM

I have employed access keys on my site this way:

<.a href="#all" accesskey="z" tabindex="1" title="Skip All Navigation"><.img
src="images/shim.gif" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="Skip All
Navigation - Access Key Z"></a><.a href="#primary" accesskey="x" title="Skip
Primary navigation block"><.img src="images/shim.gif" width="1" height="1"
border="0" alt="Skip Primary navigation block - Access Key X"></a><.a
href="features_e.html" accesskey="y" title="Accessibility Features of this
site"><.img src="images/shim.gif" width="1" height="1" border="0"
alt="Accessibility Features of this site - Access Key Y">

This code block appears at the top of every document. Since access keys
specifically benefit the visually impaired, the first links both provide the
"quick" navigation afforded by the "skip nav" function as well as a link to
a page explaining the accessibility features of the site; because it's
wrapped around an invisible gif it's an actual link (which even no-graphical
browsers can deal with), and the Alt text for the 3 gifs identify that there
are access keys being used on the site.

Jukka mentions assigning the Access Key of (zero) to the "Accessibility
Features" link (instead of my "Y")... Jukka, where is this being proposed?
Is it W3C, or elsewhere? I personally think that it would be a wonderful
idea if the development community could come to an agreement on this, and
perhaps a standardization.

Has anybody else seen anything like this? Jukka, could you point me (us) in
a direction?



> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jukka Korpela [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
> Sent: March 27, 2002 2:57 AM
> Subject: RE: Underlined text on button
> Emma Jane Hogbin wrote:
> > If users are "in the know" about access keys will they look
> > for them on a site?
> Good question. And how would they look for them? The original
> idea seems to
> have been that a browser supporting access keys would
> automatically indicate
> the access keys. For example, a user could give some command to get a list
> of access keys, or a browser could show them in some special area in a
> toolbar.
> It has been proposed that access key 0 (zero) be assigned by authors to
> correspond to a link to an explanation of access key assignments. This is
> probably the closest we can get to the original idea with current
> browsers.
> > The url posted here seems to suggest that screen
> > readers/aural browsers ignore the access key attribute.
> > Anyone know for sure?
> I'm afraid I don't understand the question. Support to accesskey
> attributes
> is basically a matter of recognizing certain HTML markup and
> providing some
> method for using certain keyboard keys as shortcuts, corresponding to the
> access key assignments. When screen readers or aural browsers are
> used, the
> input method is usually a keyboard. So whether access keys are supported
> depend on the browser, not on the methods it uses to present the document.
> Presentation matters as regards to telling the user what the access key
> assignments are.
> For example, if a graphic browser that supports accesskey (e.g., IE 6) is
> used together with screen reader software, then naturally the access keys
> work the same way as in visual mode, i.e., not very well, but occasionally
> in a useful way. But the user needs to have the assignments explained in
> normal language. Underlining would not help a blind user, unless
> the screan
> reader can actually explain say what letters are underlined. And putting
> e.g. "(Alt-W)" after a form field, as often suggested and used, wouldn't
> really help much either - if one hears that after getting into the field
> somehow, filling it out, and proceeding. Besides, "(Alt-W)" could really
> confuse an unexperienced user, especially if Alt-W does not work
> for him or
> actually causes something completely different than focusing on a field.
> Thus, the conclusion is that plain English explanations about access key
> assignments are needed. ("English" is to be taken as a generic term for
> natural language, of course.) This raises some practical
> questions. Suppose
> first that you put the explanations onto a separate page. One would, in
> practice, due to the way browsers support accesskey, need to put
> an explicit
> link to a page with accesskey assignment explanations onto each and every
> page that has some access key assignments. Naturally that link would then
> have accesskey="0". But on IE, Alt-0 would take the user to that
> link only,
> and then Enter is needed to follow the link. And the author would need a
> separate explanation page for each page, if there is _anything_
> page-specific in the assignments.
> Alternatively, the explanations could appear on a page itself.
> Somewhere at
> the bottom probably. The problem is how make access key 0 take the user
> there. This might require trickery:
> <div class="noprint">
> <hr title="Access key assignments">
> <div><a id="accesskeys" accesskey="0" href="#accesskeys">Access
> keys:</a></div>
> <ul class="compact">
> <li>0 = get this list
> <li>1 = <a href="index.html" accesskey="1">main page of the site</a>
> <li>4 = <a href="search.html" accesskey="1">search the site</a>
> </ul>
> </div>
> I'm not sure whether it's worth the trouble. We would use quite
> some special
> methods as a workaround to compensate for deficiencies in browsers. When
> browsers _really_ start supporting access keys, we would look a
> bit foolish,
> with lots of pages with extra stuff like the above. But if access keys are
> very important on some pages, due to their specific content and use, then
> perhaps it _is_ worth the trouble.
> --
> Jukka Korpela
> TIEKE Tietoyhteiskunnan kehitt