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RE: Should accesskey focus or activate?

From: Mike Scott <mscott@msfw.com>
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2001 13:10:06 -0500
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <OCEOKNCFHKCKLBNPDANBEEEPCCAA.mscott@msfw.com>
Tim brings up some excellent points:

> 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.

It is unlikely that a user (screen reader or not) is going to be using
accesskeys to "explore" the interface. They have to have some previous
knowledge of the page to use accesskeys (at a minimum, what the accesskeys
are). In that case, if they know what the accesskey is, they would most
likely want the system to activate that function.

> 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?

Absolutely. Providing effective means of exploring & navigating the page,
including links, is definitely an important issue, but not necessarily what
accesskey is meant to do.

For usability (accessible or not) it would make sense that the default
behavior of accesskeys should match the default behavior of keyboard
shortcuts/hotkeys in the operating system (i.e. bring focus to text fields,
list boxes, etc and activate buttons, checkboxes, radio buttons...). Links
would seem to be most appropriately treated as buttons (as they are often
used interchangeably). I have seen experienced screen reader-users get
disoriented after hitting an accesskey and waiting for an action to occur,
not realizing that the system is waiting for them to hit the enter key.

Of course, if the user agent could allow the user to customize this
behavior, we could have the best of both worlds.

Just my two cents...

Mike

Mike Scott
MSF&W Consulting
Accessibility Solutions
(217) 698-3535 x207
mscott@msfw.com
www.msfw.com

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On Behalf
Of Tim Harshbarger
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2001 6:50 AM
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: RE: Should accesskey focus or activate?

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
Tim Harshbarger
Disability Support
State Farm Insurance Companies
Email: Tim.Harshbarger.CQWG@StateFarm.com
Phone  309-766-0154
Received on Thursday, 26 April 2001 14:11:27 GMT

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