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Skip to content links, what is the current best practice?

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From: Birkir R. Gunnarsson
Date: Jun 30, 2011 7:57AM


Hi everyone

Another question, but I think it may be an interesting discussion point for all.
Btw, thanks for great response on AJAX/ARIA, I am just waiting for the
website admin to clear up two minor matters with me before I ask the
relevant questions.
I have been contemplating accessibility and "skip to content" practices.
It used to be that screen reader users (myself included) relied on
these links to get me to the interesting area of the page. As a screen
reader user today I much prefer a sensible heading structure, and I
find myself typically exploring a page using the "n" key or "skip to
next element of different type" in Jaws. I am not sure if that is just
me or if users generally use this method.
However, I have done some reading on it and it is confusing.
On the one hand there is discussion on people who need to use keyboard
simulation and canot navigate through html elements like screen reader
users do. Therefore a "skip to content" link is still necessary for
them. On the other hand a large part of same discuussion focuses on
hiding the link by positioning it off-screen which would indicate that
it is intended for screen reader use specifically, see
http://www.jimthatcher.com/webcourse4.htm
(excellent guide in my humble opinion, but may be a few years out of
date in some respects).

So, do you recommend a "skip to content" link for non-screen reader
keyboard users, or shold it be entirely replaced by sensible us of
html elements such as headings or landmarks?
Cheers
-B