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Re: Accesskey does not work on my OS

From: gregory j. rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2001 03:23:46 -0400
Message-ID: <000301c0c258$595c5db0$71b6f5d0@igor>
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Cc: "David P Boerschlein" <david.boerschlein@juno.com>
Date: Mon, 02 Apr 2001 14:50:14 -0400
To: David P Boerschlein <david.boerschlein@juno.com>
CC: Wendy A Chisholm <wendy@w3.org>
From: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <unagi69@concentric.net>
Subject: Re: Accesskey does not work on my OS

aloha, david!

first of all, thank you very much for taking the time to send your comments
to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group--by way of a
response, i have a comment and a few questions...

first, the comment: as it is currently implemented, accesskey is
software-dependent, inasmuch as a user agent provides a triggering mechanism
based upon a presumption about the keyboard available on the machine upon
which the user agent is installed...  therefore, your ability to use the
accesskey feature of HTML4/XHTML1 is primarily software dependent...

as for whether or not the keyboard an individual user is actually using has
a physical ALT key or not is another matter altogether, as is the question
of whether the superior implementation strategy for accesskey is to provide
a triggering mechanism for the accesskey defined by the author (which can
lead to conflicts with OS and browser keybindings), or allow "naked" input
(that is, pressing the key defined as an accesskey by the author alone
triggers the accesskey mechanism), but that (a) then neccessitates a "forms
mode" so that the browser can distinguish between input meant for an input
field and input meant for manipulation of the document, and (b) presents
potential conflict with single-keystroke bindings implemented/supported
natively by the browser...  personally, i'd prefer it if the browser allowed
me, the end user, the choice as to how to handle accesskey (e.g. a series of
checkboxes such as: use modifier key; choose modifier key; etc.), as well as
whether to merely move focus to the element for which an accesskey has been
defined or whether to activate the element for which the accesskey has been

ok, now that i've further muddied the waters, on to my questions:

1. are you using the ALT key as a modifier?  in order to trigger an
accesskey (say F, in order to get to contributors whose surnames begin with
F), you need to also depress a modifier key, which, in IE's case, is the ALT
key...  so, to activate the accesskey associated with each letter, you have
to simultaneously depress the ALT key -- for example, ALT+A should activate
the link which points to the section of the document that lists contributors
to WCAG 1.0 whose surnames begin with an A, while ALT+0 should (in IE5, at
least) move focus to the link that points to the listing of accesskeys
defined for the page, and so on...

2. when you attempted to trigger an accesskey, what exactly happened?

3. what were you expecting to happen when you triggered the accesskey?

4. have you used the accesskey feature successfully on other web pages?

5. did you also try the other accesskey test page, located at:

6. you noted that you are currently using Internet Explorer version
5.00.2314.1003 (update version: 3283) -- have you considered
updating/upgrading your version of IE?  the current release of IE is version
5.5 update version SP1: you can easily do so through the IE5 menu bar by
opening the "Tools" menu (which you can do by typing ALT+T) and choosing
"Windows Update", the hotkey for which, once the "Tools" menu has been
exposed, is "U")  -- are there any compelling reasons for you NOT to update
your version of IE?  (by the way, if you're running IE, it is a good idea to
periodically check to see what updates are available, in particular, any
"Critical Updates" -- as you may have noted, the verison of IE on your
system is older than that which i was using when i created the accesskey
test pages last year!)

thank you for taking the time to report your experiences--i hope that my
replies have provided you with more information and that your answers assist
us in ascertaining why accesskey isn't currently working on your Win98


At 08:44 PM 3/31/01 -0500, David P Boerschleinwrote:
Even though my computer is fairly new, the accesskey modifier does not work
on it.   I tested this on your page:


The system in question is:

 Microsoft Windows 98 (4.10.1998)
 Compaq Presario GenuineIntel Pentium(r) Processor
 64.0MB ram
                Internet Explorer 5 (5.00.2314.1003) Update 3283

operating system (including version/revision number) assistive technology,
if any (please include version number) user agent name and version (i.e.
MSIE, version 5.00.2920.0000 update versions ;q254902)
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Received on Wednesday, 11 April 2001 03:22:15 UTC

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