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Re: Keyboard Users and What They Use


From: Andrews, David B (DEED)
Date: Jan 17, 2012 2:18PM

I am a blind computer user, and primarily use JAWS. I use the arrow keys a lot to explore new web pages. This way I can see what is on the page, how it is constructed and laid out etc.

At least with JAWS, the space bar will activate some kinds of controls, while the enter key works best for others.


-----Original Message-----
Sent: Sunday, January 15, 2012 8:49 AM
To: WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] Keyboard Users and What They Use

On Sat, Jan 14, 2012 at 9:14 PM, LSnider < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
> For those who use keyboard only navigation, the tab key is most used from
> what I have read. Do you use arrow keys a lot? If so, when do you use them?
> When you tab to a link you want to go to, for example a hidden skip to
> navigation link, do you press enter or some other key? I just wanted to
> confirm that this is the only way to activate this link...
> I am a mouse user, so I only play with keyboard navigation and wondered if I was missing some tricks of the trade!

Even if we limit ourselves to ordinary keyboards and ordinary
hyperlink controls, different setups provide many different ways to
locate and activate links. Examples include:

* Tab navigation through controls in "tab order" (using tab key,
perhaps with a modifier, in popular desktop browsers).
* Spatial navigation - moving in arbitrary directions through
controls as laid out on screen (e.g. Opera using arrow keys with a
* Caret browsing through lines and characters (e.g. Internet
Explorer, Firefox).
* Find as you type where you start typing the first letters of a
link to select it then activate it (e.g. Firefox:
http://www.mozilla.org/access/type-ahead/ ).
* Links numbering - giving every link a short reference (e.g. "6"
or "ak") that the user can type in to activate the link (e.g. Lynx,
* Picking a link to activate from a list of links on the page in a
dialog (e.g. JAWS).
* Special behaviors for special link types such as "next" and
"prev" (e.g. Vimium has special key sequences for these).
* Access keys suggested by the web author.
* Mouse keys to simulate use of the mouse.

My guess is the most widely used mechanisms are tab key and find as
you type among general users, while dedicated keyboard only users are
especially likely to use links numbering if they can see and links
lists if they can't.

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis