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Re: resolving conflict between JAWS and key-press events for navigating large drop-down menus


From: Daniel Tang (dtang)
Date: Aug 27, 2014 12:46PM


I am delighted that you have developed accessibility for this.

Regarding the issues on TAB, Shift and the arrows keys with JAWS, have you explored the possibility of adding another key combination (for example the control key).
Press Control and an Arrow key together or Control Tab...?


Daniel Tang
Phone: +1 408 526 7814

-----Original Message-----
From: <EMAIL REMOVED> [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Michael Tangen
Sent: Friday, August 22, 2014 12:39 PM
Subject: [WebAIM] resolving conflict between JAWS and key-press events for navigating large drop-down menus

I have been toiling over this for weeks now, researching solutions that others have developed for fully keyboard-navigable menus (both for sited users that have physical impairments and for non-sighted users that rely on assistive technology such as JAWS). I have a drop-down menu script <http://designbymichael.com/test/menu/>; that I've built for our state agencies at the State of Minnesota and it works quite well....but I am having one problem: JAWS has reserved both the use of arrow keys and the space bar...and this is a problem from my perspective. While those keys do offer the user certain abilities, it does restrict my ability to allow a user to navigate through complex menu systems with arrow keys or to toggle the display of submenus. If there's one thing that state government are known for is vast layers of navigation to traverse through — and I'm trying to alleviate that a little.

The example menu I hyperlinked below allows you to navigate through the entire menu one of two ways: using arrow keys to drill down through the menus and traverse back up again, or using a combination of the tab and shift-tab keys to navigate and the spacebar to toggle the visibility (and
accessibility) of submenus. It works fine when you are just using a browser without JAWS or on the Mac if you use Safari along with VoiceOver.
Furthermore with VoiceOver and Safari, you can navigate through the menu with either the arrow keys or the tab keys with space bar to toggle subnavigation visibility.

So I'm at a loss as what to do for JAWS users. What keyboard event can I use to toggle the display of submenus without conflicting with keyboard shortcuts that are reserved by JAWS? My requirements:

- Submenus must be hidden when not activated or needed, largely so the
screen reader doesn't read dozens and dozens of links that the user may
have no interest in hearing
- Intuitive means of navigating through complex trees of navigation
(arrow keys and/or (shift) tab keys)
- If arrow keys are not available to the end user (I'm looking at you
JAWS), an intuitive key choice to toggle the visibility of a submenu.

I've taken all the known steps to ensure accessibility, but I'm at a loss with the conflict of what keys JAWS has assumed for itself with what keys are commonly used for navigational purposes.


Test menu: http://designbymichael.com/test/menu/

- Michael