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RE: Should accesskey focus or activate?

From: Tim Harshbarger <tim.harshbarger.cqwg@statefarm.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 06:50:26 -0500
Message-ID: <DDAEA8186984D41188CE00D0B79DE2EB043ACD41@NSBRB3F.statefarm.com>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
The best way to find an answer to this question would be to perform an
usability test.  Everything else is just a guess.

From what little I can recollect from working with various user interface
guidelines for different platforms, it seems that a hot key simulates a
mouse click unless the control or collection receiving focus provides
multiple options to choose.  Then the hot key seems only to bring focus to
that control.  This would seem to indicate to me that a hot key associated
with a link should trigger the link. -- if we are just basing a decision on
how other user interface guides suggest things ought to work.

I also think there may be less difference in how someone with a mobility
impairment and visual impairment would want a hot key to work.  It is true
that someone with a mobility impairment only will be able to see the screen
and most likely want the control/item immediately activated when she or he
uses the appropriate hot key.  From my observations, I think that people
with visual impairments tend to work in the same way, whether or not they
can see a visual display of the page.

I notice that people with visual impairments (myself included) do not know
what the hot keys for an interface are until the interface is reviewed via
screen reader, braille display, screen magnification, or some other
technology.  It seems that people with visual impairments try to build a
mental model of an interface first.  Use of hot keys seems not to occur
until the person becomes comfortable with the interface.  So, it might be
erroneous to assume that someone with a visual impairment would want focus
to move to the item instead of the item being activated.  

In this thread, we seem to be discussing two problems.  How should ACCESSKEY
manipulate items?  Also, how can we allow users with disabilities to get to
links more efficiently?  My thought is that we need to be careful about
linking these two problems too closely together.  The optimal solution for
one is probably not the optimal solution for the other problem.

Of course, some usability testing would be a great way for us to solve these
problems.  Hmmmm, can you tell I spend a lot of time working with
Human-Computer interaction people?

Tim Harshbarger
Disability Support 
State Farm Insurance Companies
Email: Tim.Harshbarger.CQWG@StateFarm.com
Phone  309-766-0154
Received on Wednesday, 25 April 2001 07:50:43 UTC

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