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Thread: RE: Access keys, ie6


Number of posts in this thread: 2 (In chronological order)

From: jukka.korpela@tieke.fi
Date: Tue, Jan 22 2002 4:17AM
Subject: RE: Access keys, ie6
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Paul Bohman wrote:

> The accesskey attribute is supported in Netscape 6.
- -
> The WebAIM has a few accesskeys specified:
- -

This, and other messages in the thread, have given me much better
understanding of the accesskey attribute, so I used them to update my old
page on it:

> I have mixed feelings about accesskeys.

So have I, although there seems to be some slow progress. I think the key
question (no pun intended) is whether accesskey assignments in HTML
documents can work without disturbing the existing accessability tools that
are available in different programs and in use by people who really need

Perhaps using digit keys is the only _safe_ way, and maybe the WebAIM
assignments could be made into some sort of "standard". If users got the
idea that a few access keys work across sites, they might also get the idea
that there might be additional site-specific assignments, and they could
look for them. If there were a standard symbol, naturally with a text-only
variant, that indicates 'this site uses WebAIM access keys' and that is a
link to a short page that explains what it's all about, we could make some

> By the way, I actually prefer the way that Netscape handles
> accesskeys.

This is a moot point. The way Netscape 6 handles them is closer to the
spirit of the HTML 4 specification, but functionally, it means reduced
accessibility: you cannot simply focus on a link without doing anything
else. You might wish to get there just to tab forward, or to use some
browser-dependent method of accessing the resource, or perhaps see an
associated TYPE and TITLE attribute values, so that one could see what's
being accessed, before opening a 10 megabytes PDF file. (No, IE doesn't
show such info upon focusing, but a good browser should give optional
access to such information before following a link.) Or, who knows, you
might just wish to trigger an onfocus event handler.

The following part of the original question has remained unanswered, as far
as I can see:

"As I understand, ie 4 and 5 are as follows:

Microsoft IE4 press 'alt' and letter at the same time
Microsoft IE5 press 'alt' and letter then press enter

is that right?"

In my experience, all versions of IE on Windows platforms from version 4.0
onwards support accesskey the same way, except that in 4.0 it was supported
for letters only - but I may have missed something.

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela

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From: Paul Bohman
Date: Tue, Jan 22 2002 12:23PM
Subject: RE: Access keys, ie6
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>> Perhaps using digit keys is the only _safe_ way, and maybe the WebAIM
assignments could be made into some sort of "standard".

Having some sort of standard would be a good idea. Using the current WebAIM
site as a standard would be insufficient, because our site does not address
all of the possible or desirable types of shortcuts. Off the top of my head,
here is a list of common shortcuts that we could benefit from:

* Return to home page
* Skip navigation (go to main content)
* Site index
* Printer version
* Help/how to use this site
* Preferences/Accessibility options
* Contact information

Other types of sites would benefit from an additional set of shortcuts. For

* Products (for commercial sites)
* Technical support
* Downloads
* Log in

The list of potential shortcuts -- even for common links -- can get quite
lengthy. The truth of the matter is that the current specification for
keyboard shortcuts is insufficient and should be entirely rethought. Perhaps
the standard should be patterned after the menus in desktop applications.
Now we're getting into a theoretical issue, which won't help us out in the
short term.

Here are some final summary thoughts on accesskeys:

1. To the extent possible, use numbers rather than letters
2. Let your users know that the shortcuts exist (either by putting the text
on the page directly or including the information in an alt tag or link
3. There may be disagreement as to the most useful accesskeys, but I would
propose that one that is almost universally useful is "return to home page."

>>MicrosoftIE4 press 'alt' and letter at the same time
Microsoft I E5 press 'alt' and letter then press enter, is that right?"

I thought that I had a copy of IE4 around to test that on, but apparently my
last copy got upgraded, so I can't verify that information. IE 6 and 5.5
require that you press enter after the keyboard shortcut.

Paul Bohman
Technology Coordinator
WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind)
Utah State University

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