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Tab navigation for non-interactive content?


From: Erik Conrad
Date: Oct 27, 2016 1:04PM

Hello everyone,

I am relatively new to designing for accessibility, and while I have been
reading and researching as much as I can, I have some questions about the
specifics of my design problem where any advice from those with more
experience (as users, designers, or developers) would be greatly

I am working on user interfaces for online tests that are rendered in HTML
like a web page, but otherwise work more like an application. I have
noticed that many web applications have extensive lists of hotkeys (like
gmail, twitter, etc.) to facilitate keyboard navigation and get around
their UIs. In my case, I do not believe that this is useful, as most users
will only ever take a test once, so learning a bunch of custom key combos
has limited use.

Depending on the test, there are a few major sections of the UI that serve
different purposes: timing, various kinds of information, navigation, the
question(s), etc. I think (possibly incorrectly) that adding the major
sections of the UI to the tabindex makes it easy to get around the UI with
the keyboard, while only adding a few extra tab stops. (Also, many of the
UI sections are in separate frames - old school frames, not iframes - which
I know can cause problems with screen readers and such, but there is
nothing that I can do about that).

I know that having a tabindex on non-interactive content is not a best
practice and may be unexpected or annoying for users who normally use the
keyboard to navigate, but as someone with experience in UI design but new
to accessibility, it seems like a fair trade off. I would greatly
appreciate any opinions about how wrong (or right?) I am about that.

Thank you for reading my long post, I would greatly appreciate any feedback.


erik conrad