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RE: visibility of 'skip links'

From: Mike Scott <mscott2@msfw.com>
Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 01:02:24 -0500 (CDT)
Message-ID: <3314.64.108.45.75.1021960944.squirrel@tux.msfw.com>
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Cc: <sec508@trace.wisc.edu>
Jim Thatcher wrote:
> If you can see the screen you can tab (very quickly)
> over a long list of links 

That's not always true. Many individuals with physical disabilities who use 
adapted keyboarding devices instead of mice find it excruciatingly slow to 
tab through long, repeated lists of navigation links. 

> The skip [navigation] link has nothing to do with
> keyboard access - it is for blind access.

While the concept may have been initially conceived to assist screen-reader 
users, is there any sound argument why this shouldn't apply to individuals 
with physical disabilities as well? The 508 requirement ("A method shall be 
provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links") doesn't 
appear to suggest anything to that effect.  

Mike

(Personally, I happen to feel that this requirement makes more sense as a 
user agent feature rather than for individual web pages, but I guess that 
discussion will have to wait for the next revision of the standards...)


> 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!
> 
> Jim
> Accessibility Consulting
> http://jimthatcher.com
> 512-306-0931
Received on Tuesday, 21 May 2002 02:02:46 GMT

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