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Thread: Tools used by sighted keyboard users - or, are skiplinks still required even when using ARIA landmarks?
Number of posts in this thread: 4 (In chronological order)
I'm trying to get a better understanding of who sighted keyboard users are,
and what tools - if any - they use.
I figure that keyboard users in general breaks down into two groups; those
who can use a mouse but who use the keyboard as a preference - typically
power users - and those who cannot use a mouse, and who are therefore
dependent on the keyboard alone. The former at least have the option of
bailing and using the mouse to skip over large areas of links or to click
otherwise inaccessible items; that latter don't have that option.
I'm familiar with the technologies used by blind users - namely
screenreaders - but I'm less familiar with the techniques used by sighted
keyboard-only users. Screenreader users have a variety of tools at their
disposal, and can navigate a page by heading outline, ARIA landmark, or
browse links, form elements and so on. Are there similar tools or plugins
used by sighted keyboard users? How widespread are they? It's usually
assumed that a blind user must be using a screenreader (or equivalent
technology, such as a self-voicing browser); can anything similar be said
regarding keyboard-only users? I know there's several browser plug-ins out
there that can help; are there any in particular that are more widely-used
Here's an example of how this impacts web developers: WCAG Success Criterion
2.4.1 requires the ability to bypass navigation or other similar blocks, and
is often implemented via 'skip links', which when implemented correctly, can
be used by both screenreader users and sighted keyboard users. However, if
ARIA landmarks are used instead, then only screenreader users benefit;
sighted keyboard users instead have to tab-tab-tab. Unless, that is, that
the majority of sighted keyboard users have available to them and are using
a tool that gives them comparable support. If not, it would seem that
developers would need to continue to implement skip-links if they want to be
conformant which this.
Brendan McKeon | = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
> I figure that keyboard users in general breaks down into two groups; those who can use a mouse but who use the keyboard as a preference - typically power users - and those who cannot use a mouse, and who are therefore dependent on the keyboard alone.
Speech users are also mostly de facto keyboard users; controlling the mouse with speech recognition is possibly but very slow and difficult. It's much faster to emulate keystrokes.
There are a variety of tools for sighted keyboard users.
* Speech recognition, of course (eg NaturallySpeaking, Dragon Dictate, WSR).
* Tools that add keystroke identifiers to actionable elements on a web page (eg the Firefox add-on Mouseless Browsing).
* Browser built-ins allowing navigation by header (only in Opera, I think, and not very fine-tunable).
* Browser built-ins for direct search in page (eg F3, Ctrl-F, and "/", which sometimes is overriden by well-meaning and misguided page designers).
> It's usually assumed that a blind user must be using a screenreader (or equivalent technology, such as a self-voicing browser); can anything similar be said regarding keyboard-only users?
I've never seen statistics, but I'd feel sorry for anyone who browsed mouselessly without knowing their browsers shortcuts or having an assistance icon. As a speech/keyboard user (and a power user both) I don't see how you could really be a successful Internet user without a mouse unless you have some expertise. (You can see why if you ask an able-bodied accessibility tester to unplug their mouse and navigate the web; it takes knowledge to even learn how.)
> sighted keyboard users instead have to tab-tab-tab.
That being said, with this use case I suspect a survey would should that most keyboard users *don't* know how to quickly skip around the page.
Accessibility Team Co-lead
Dreamwidth Studios, LLC
Here is a great blog post from a sighted keyboard-only user on "MouseKeys," included in Microsoft Windows and Apple's MAC OS, and how she uses it instead of tab-tab-tabbing:
MouseKeys vs. Tabbing, by Rosemary Musachio, https://www.ssbbartgroup.com/blog/2012/06/13/mousekeys-vs-tabbing/
(Also posted on the G3ict site: http://g3ict.org/resource_center/newsletter/news/p/newsletterId_/id_370)
Sarah E. Bourne
Director of Assistive Technology
Information Technology Division
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
1 Ashburton Pl. rm 1601 Boston MA 02108
= EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
Here is a recent blog post in which a sighted
keyboard-only user is interviewed:
Hands free browsing an interview with Kim Patch
from Henny Swan's blog: