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Re: Question on "skip to main content"


From: Chris Hoffman
Date: Sep 25, 2009 7:35PM

As a proof of concept (and because it was in my head and needed to be
let out), I wrote a javascript plugin that combines visible-on-focus
skip-nav links with ARIA landmark navigation, and does so even for
users without specialized ARIA-aware assistive technology. There are
definitely things I want to change and tweak with it, but you can see
the demo at http://www.outstandingelephant.com/blog/entry/landmark_navigator.
Load the page and start tabbing to access to landmark navigation.

It uses jQuery UI theming, so the appearance is completely
customizable. Yes, it _does_ require javascript, but I think there are
ways around that. For example, I'm thinking about having the plugin
look for existing skip-nav links on the page and remove them when it
loads, so that they would be there for browsers without JS.

Please feel free to steal it, play with it, change it, use it in
whatever way, and suggestions for changes and improvements are always


On Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 2:39 PM, Jared Smith < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
> A few thoughts:
> - Section 508 does not directly require "skip" links. It does require
> "a method" of skipping repeated navigation.
> - Heading or document structure could be considered "a method", but
> this has little benefit for sighted keyboard users because browsers
> (except Opera or Firefox with an extension) do not support keyboard
> navigation by headings or other elements (despite the fact this has
> been a requirement of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines since
> 2002).
> - Thus, a "skip" link is currently the best way of addressing the
> needs of sighted keyboard users. As such, using the "visible on focus"
> approach (http://www.webaim.org/techniques/skipnav/#focus) is
> acceptable, so long as the "skip" link is readily visible when it is
> 'tabbed' to. An always-visible "skip" link does convey a pretty strong
> statement of commitment to accessibility.
> - ARIA landmarks provide a MUCH better solution to all of this because
> they not only provide targets for keyboard navigation, but the areas
> of the page are given descriptive identifiers (search, main,
> navigation, etc.). But again, ARIA landmarks are not yet supported in
> browsers, except with the use of screen readers - so they do not yet
> benefit sighted keyboard users.
> In short, we could kiss "skip" links goodbye forever if there were
> simply better browser support for keyboard navigation for sighted
> users (which would naturally remove the need for screen readers to
> duplicate this functionality). Opera does a splendid job of doing
> this, and other browsers should follow suit. But until such support is
> widespread, I'm afraid that the best solution to keyboard
> accessibility remains "skip" links.
> Jared Smith
> WebAIM