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Shortcut key attribute for buttons, hidden text and links and Ajax


From: Birkir Gunnarsson
Date: Mar 8, 2010 9:42PM

Hey gang

I apologize if this seems a bit of a newby question for I am one (have
programming experience but precious little web programming, although it is
changing rapidly these days).
I am evaluating the accessibility of a webmail page from one of the ISPs. I
am fairly new at this job, I must admit, and I am catching up quickly but
figured perhaps I can make a shortcut and ask here for a few things (I will
not flood the list, I will Google when appropriate and I am reading up on
all the W3C standards, but it takes some time).
The webmail system is made by Zimbra, if anyone has experiences with their
system in particular, please email me off list if you have comments (I
believe they service a lot of ISPs, so some of you may already have
submitted comments to them directly or indirectly).

In this particular instance I have a page with a bunch of buttons, send, add
cc, add bcc, set priority etc. I know there are shortcut keys for these such
as alt-s will send the message, but I only know this because I saw it
through the "customize mail" page elsewhere on the web site. I tested
sending a message with alt-s after writing it and it worked fine.
However I want the alt-s to be vissible next to the "send button" because a
screen reader user may not be practical enough to go scouting for a list of
possible shortcut keys hidden in his account settings page.
Is there a shortcut key html attribute that would allow them to add the
alt-s tag to the "send" button so it is vissble to screen reader users but
not on the page itself, or do they have to set the "value" attribute of the
send button to say "send alt-s" or "send alt+s", i.e. set the shortcut key
combination hint inside of the value attribute, thus vissible to all users,
not just screen reader users?

Secondly, what, in general, are the ways one could add text to a page that
is vissible to only screen readers, but not others? I know of the alt
attribute and I believe there is a "hidden" element, but it would be hidden
for a screen reader user as well. Any tips and tricks frequently used here,
html or css? If this is already covered somewhere, can you please post a
link? I know there should not be too many situations like this but I see how
a screen reader user can benefit from things like inication of a shortcut
key for a given button, or instructions or caption for a page or text, link
to a text version of a video which the page designed does not want to be
easily accessible to all, but may want to provide to AT users. Or is that
practice just simply bad practice and should not be endorsed?

Finally, what is there to be said about Ajax accessibility at this point,
what are the challenges particular to Ajax, what solutions?
Again, if you have a link for a larger discussion that would be appreciated,
it is not as if it is a simple question. This particular mail service has a
"full" Ajax based interface but they also have a "light" html interface .. I
do not even test the full version since the html one is available, but
should I try to improve access to the "full" version rather than
concentrating on the html only one?

That would be all (I just want the answer to life, the universe and

I'm mostly looking for pointers on further info, since I realize the
complexity of these issues, but it is a slow process to go through these
technologies one by one and if someone can give me a shortcut straight to
where these issues are covered I would appreciate it very much.
Thanks very much, hope to see as many of you as possible at CSUN.