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


From: ihenix
Date: Jun 30, 2011 8:18AM

In an ideal world we'd have browsers implement Spatial Navigation [1]
in the same way that Opera does. This would mean that sighted,
keyboard only users would not need visible (on focus) skip links and
screen reader users could continue to use headings, landmarks, links
etc to navigate. If this were the case we could all go home happy,
devs and users alike. Webkit have nightly builds with Spatial
Navigation in and apparently Firefox has an experimental build (but I
am yet to verify this).

My belief is that the days of Skip Links are numbered [2] however for
sighted keyboard only users they're still relevant and as such Skip
Links have a valid purpose. That said, I've not heard from many
sighted keyboard only users who do use skip links. I wonder if this is
because Skip links are typically invisible or they're all Opera users ;)


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spatial_navigation
[2] http://www.iheni.com/the-shelf-life-of-a-skip-link/

On 30 Jun 2011, at 14:57, Birkir R. Gunnarsson wrote:

> 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