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RE: AccessKeys and what to use

From: David M. Clark <david@davidsaccess.com>
Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2001 22:05:30 -0400
To: "'Kynn Bartlett'" <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>, "'Graham Oliver'" <graham_oliver@yahoo.com>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <008501c12aae$eba3c820$d72e7392@machinename>
I would like to second the opinion of my esteemed colleague from the
"left coast". :)

Though I am not a screanreader user, I am predominantly a keyboard user.
I discourage implementation of ACCESSKEY because I find that it often
makes the page more "inaccessible". The main reason is that -- at least
in IE -- a defined accesskey takes precedent over the shortcut key of
the user agent. Ironically, this can force me to use the mouse when I
would otherwise use the keyboard.

Conceptually, the idea of ACCESSKEY is laudable. However, the underlying
issue -- navigation of a page -- is much better address by the User

Just my $.02.


David M. Clark
Marathon Ventures
ph: 617/859-3069

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of Kynn Bartlett
Sent: Tuesday, August 21, 2001 8:52 PM
To: Graham Oliver
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: Re: AccessKeys and what to use

Accesskey is problematic.  Basically you have to guess at whatever
keys the user agent, operating system, assistive technologies, and
other programs aren't already using, and use something else, and
hope the user has a way to use them.  This is a bad enough problem
itself (quick fix:  Only use 0-9 as accesskeys...), but there are
further problems with accesskey.

To create a good user interface, you need to tell the user what
accesskeys are available.  That's where the real problem comes in.
You can't use one user interface to do this -- you need to have an
adaptable UI to pull it off correctly in a decent manner, or else
kludge in pointless verbiage.

The problem is that you don't want to leave out reference to the
accesskeys if the user can use it, but you don't want to put them
in if the user can't use it.  Your alternatives are sensing the
browser somehow (server-side, javascript), or putting in long text
of the kind "If you have Netscape, blah blah, if you have IE,
blah blah, if you have Opera, blah blah."  The latter is generally
a Bad Idea.

Accesskey:  Good idea, poorly thought out implementation.


Kynn Bartlett <kynn@reef.com>
Technical Developer Liaison
Reef North America
Accessibility - W3C - Integrator Network
Tel +1 949-567-7006
Received on Tuesday, 21 August 2001 22:01:50 UTC

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