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RE: Comment 4 - Access keys

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 15 Apr 2002 10:07:43 -0400 (EDT)
To: john_slatin <john_slatin@forum.utexas.edu>
cc: "'gian@stanleymilford.com.au'" <gian@stanleymilford.com.au>, "'mcmay@bestkungfu.com'" <mcmay@bestkungfu.com>, "'robert.neff@uaccessit.com'" <robert.neff@uaccessit.com>, "'w3c-wai-gl@w3.org'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0204150956200.22080-100000@tux.w3.org>
Also, my keyboard in Arabic mode doesn't have the same keys available -
should I use arabic characters or latin ones? But my browser carefully makes
all the keys available to help me, and my other browser lets me change the
modifier keys I use to give me the best chance of using both accesskeys and
normal functions, and my other browser only has number keys anyway, and my
other browsers...

In fact there is a problem with the accesskey specification in HTML - it is a
little too vague to allow unambiguous implementation. Microsoft did two very
different implementations in successive versions of IE, and neither of them
contradict anything the specification says, yet both of them lead to
further problems using accesskey. Given this and now lots of other experience
(iCab, Amaya, phone.com's browser that is on lots of GSM phones, NTT DoCoMo's
i-mode browsers, etc) it seems clear that in the medium term accesskey
specifications need to be fixed.

Right now they are still useful for some people - you essentially have to
decide which keys to use knowing that not everyone will be able to work well
with them. Maybe people should think about which browser they use - iCab is
great for accesskeys, a feature I really appreciate (good for RSI-afflicted
users), but terrible for working with a screenreader - something that doesn't
worry me but would make it impossible for others to use it.

So although you can't use keys that aren't taken by some browser, those most
likely to be available are number keys, and those most likely to be memorable
are letter keys. An then we have the eternal dilemma  of designing to
encourage people to fix their browsers, or designing for today even if that
slows down any improvement by increasing the weight of legacy content that
will not be compatible with next-generation systems... <sigh/>



On Mon, 15 Apr 2002, john_slatin wrote:

  I agree that it's important, when choosing accesskeys, to make sure that
  you're not using letters that are already "taken" by the browser.  But that
  doesn't mean you're restricted to the numerals 0-9; it just means you can't
  use letters that already belong to the browser's top-level menus.

  John Slatin

  -----Original Message-----
  From: gian@stanleymilford.com.au [mailto:gian@stanleymilford.com.au]
  Sent: Sunday, April 14, 2002 8:14 pm
  To: mcmay@bestkungfu.com; robert.neff@uaccessit.com; w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
  Subject: RE: Comment 4 - Access keys

  I posted this to the list a few months ago...

  When I first used access keys a colleague did some research on it, and found
  that the only keys that were definately not used for general applications
  (whether on Windows, Mac or Linux) were numbers... therefore accesskeys
  should utilise 0 -9 and that is all

  (For example, in Windows, ALT+F opens the 'File' menu, thus 'F' cannot be
  used as an accesskey - the only ascii keys which can be used are numerals).

  This should be included in the checkpoint.

  > -----Original Message-----
  > From: robert.neff [mailto:robert.neff@uaccessit.com]
  > Sent: Friday, 22 March 2002 2:24 AM
  > To: mcmay; w3c-wai-gl
  > Subject: Comment 4 - Access keys
  > Comment 4.  Is there a recommended list of access keys to use for
  > functions?
  > Issue: If we don't mention this, it will be unclear on  how to
  > implement.
  > Solution:  Provide a list of access keys or references for
  > products and
  > what they use.  Please note, this is not my area and defer to people
  > with more expertise.

Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI  fax: +33 4 92 38 78 22
Location: 21 Mitchell street FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia
(or W3C INRIA, Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France)
Received on Monday, 15 April 2002 10:08:13 UTC

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