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Re: accesskeys - standards for which keys do what?

From: Charles F. Munat <coder@acnet.net>
Date: Fri, 29 Jan 1999 18:51:36 -0600
Message-ID: <003e01be4bea$b20a4300$3b1172a7@acnet.net>
To: "David Meadows" <david@heroes.force9.co.uk>, "wai" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
David Meadows wrote:

"Shouldn't the user agent set the access keys based on the
standards for the
platform it runs on? The HTML mark-up should "suggest",
rather than dictate,
what the access key will be. The user agent will then
determine how to
implement it appropriately. The situation would be analogous
to the way that
HTML "suggests" the presentation of the text but the browser
determines how it will be displayed."


I would like to see an accesskey model that combined both

I think that certain accesskeys should be built in. That is,
I should be able to note that a certain link is to the home
page of a site, and the accesskey would be set by the
browser according to that browser's layout. So, for example
(forgetting for a moment about help), perhaps on Windows
with IE it would be Alt-h. And that would be consistent from
site to site. I suggest that Help, Site Map, About Us (Bio),
Contact Us (Email/Feedback/etc), and so on, be assigned keys
by the browser with the page designer simply noting which
links are which. Even better would be a way to inform the
browser about the structure of the site (via meta tags, XML,
whatever) so that the browser "understood" what was what and
inserted the appropriate accesskeys accordingly.

That said, I would still like to be able to assign a few
accesskeys on a site by site basis. And I don't think that
there's anything wrong with having to learn new interfaces.
Let's face it: most sites are constructed similarly, and
navigation systems designed for real navigability are
becoming more and more consistent. So the learning curve is
pretty short. For example, a "page locator" such as "home >
help> accessibility issues" which indicates that this is the
"accessibility issues" page in the "help" section which is a
branch off the "home" page (and with each step up a link to
that page) is becoming more and more common. And although
the style varies from site to site, they are similar enough
that most people recognize them immediately. (I'd love to
see this built into the browser.)

For that matter, why is it that every search engine looks
like Yahoo? Initially, there is a period of experimentation,
but eventually that gives way to a few models that seem to
work. So the "new interface" problem, in my opinion, will
eventually tend to solve itself. In fact, my sites are
starting to look more and more similar, because as I find
solutions to problems, I find it increasingly difficult to
justify deviating from the system that works best. Most
variation in navigation systems on my sites occurs because
I've come up with a BETTER way to do it.

So, yes, some standardization, but also some room for

Finally, I think that accesskeys will become much more
useful when we come up with better ways to convey meta
information, and more consistent ways to organize and
catalog sites.

Charles Munat
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Received on Friday, 29 January 1999 20:02:06 UTC

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