WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

Re: Maximum number of keystrokes (operations) to get to any item on a webpage?


From: Tim Harshbarger
Date: Dec 19, 2011 6:45AM

Another issue with focusing on keystroke counts is that fewer keystrokes does not also mean increased usability.

For example, you could design a membership form for an organization so that every field and choice uses an access key. This would mean you had designed the form with the fewest keystrokes possible. However, someone using a screen reader would have to read through all those fields to find out what the access key is. Even if you provided a list at the top of the page, a screen reader user would still need to read through the list.

I definitely think fewer keystrokes is better than more, but how much is "fewer" probably depends on other things. Just off the top of my head, I would think that "fewer" might depend on the user's expectations on how the interactions should work, how often they need to complete that interaction, and the discoverability of the keystrokes they need to use.

I think it ends up being like most of accessibility and usability--fewer keystrokes is good, but context matters.

Tim Harshbarger
-----Original Message-----
From: <EMAIL REMOVED> [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis
Sent: Sunday, December 18, 2011 7:41 AM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] Maximum number of keystrokes (operations) to get to any item on a webpage?

On Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 10:55 PM, Birkir R. Gunnarsson
< <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
> All of this being said, has accessibility ever been framed or
> evaluated in terms of number of keystrokes needed to get to an element
> on a page?

Yes. The WCAG2 supporting documentation explains that this is an
advantage of headings:


See also:


for a rationale of why WCAG does not go to include a precise metric
around the number of keystrokes.

Note also that different mechanisms implemented by different user
agents can radically change the number of keystrokes required, even in
the absence of semantic markup. For example, typeahead find and
spatial navigation can radically reduce the time taken to activate a

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis