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RE: visibility of 'skip links'

From: Jim Thatcher <jim@jimthatcher.com>
Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 18:08:19 -0500
To: "Scarlett Julian \(ED\)" <Julian.Scarlett@sheffield.gov.uk>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <NDBBKJDAKKEJDCICIODLKECNEFAA.jim@jimthatcher.com>
Hi Scarlett,

I drove the inclusion of skip nav links in the 508 provisions when I was
vice chair of EITAAC (electronic and information technology accessibility
advisory committee) that proposed standards to the Access Board for 508. It
was the first "formalization," even advocacy, of the idea. Skip navigation
links are crucial for blind consumers to find the main content of a page, a
process that is relatively easy if you can see and one that can be near
impossible if you are blind.

Since the EITAAC meetings, screen readers have improved and they do a better
job of skipping over links. But a "skip to main content link" completely
removes guesswork. The skip link has nothing to do with keyboard access - it
is for blind access. If you can see the screen you can tab (very quickly)
over a long list of links and watch the focus rectangle until it gets to
where you want. A blind user cannot do that. You have to listen as you go
... and tabbing, of course, skips right over the main content.

Put the skip link on an invisible gif, as you will find it on
http://cnn.com, http://ibm.com and http://jimthatcher.com. Or make it
visible like on http://www.acb.org. Or make it the same color as background
as at http://assistivetech.org. But don't use visibility: hidden styles -
screen readers are taking that to mean that the visibility is hidden!

Accessibility Consulting
Constructing Accessible Web Sites, is now available at Amazon:
I recommend it. It's a good book!

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On
Behalf Of Scarlett Julian (ED)
Sent: Monday, May 20, 2002 2:27 AM
To: 'w3c-wai-ig@w3.org'
Subject: visibility of 'skip links'

Hi all,

just a quickie. I have a page (several actually) with a 'skip links' link at
the top of the main nav menu. On showing this to some sighted users who I
would assess as having limited experience of the internet but make up a
sizeable proportion of my target audience I became aware that this link was
confusing them. I therefore wanted to hide it and attached a css class with
visibility set to hidden. Does doing this present any problems for the
people that would benefit from a 'skip links' link. I'm pretty sure that
screen readers will pick up the hidden link but just wanted to make sure.
Any comments?



Julian Scarlett
Web Design & Document Management System Officer
Education Directorate
Sheffield City Council
0114 2735612
mob 07904914976

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Received on Monday, 20 May 2002 19:09:21 UTC

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