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RE: Selecting Checkboxes with the Keyboard

From: Jukka Korpela <jukka.korpela@tieke.fi>
Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2002 12:25:20 +0200
Message-ID: <621574AE86FAD3118D1D0000E22138A95BDF33@TIEKE1>
To: "WAI (w3c-wai-ig@w3.org)" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

RUST Randal wrote:

> But I'm having trouble  accessing the
> checkboxes when I just use the keyboard.
> When I tab through the items, I skip over the checkbox so I 
> can't select it.

and commented later that the browser was IE 6 Win and that he
"just needed to press the space bar:)".

Some related notes:

Both checkboxes and radio buttons require non-intuitive actions when used
with keyboard only, which on the other hand is often needed, not only by
blind people and on systems without a mouse but also by people with a
motoric disability - it's difficult to hit a small box or circle with the

When you have tabbed to a checkbox, the space bar indeed toggles the
checkbox setting (on IE). But when you have tabbed to a radio button, the
situation is quite different. You need to use arrow keys to move to another
radio button in the same group, and the movement sets the button. One might
expect to move with a tab from one radio button to the next field in the
form (such as another radio button), just as you can move out of a checkbox,
but tabbing actually takes one past the entire group of radio buttons.

Besides, it seems to me that if none of the radio buttons in a group is
initially selected (by virtue of a CHECKED attribute), then the group cannot
be reached by tabbing at all! One more reason to always include an ininially
selected (default) alternative in a set of radio buttons; for other reasons

I'm afraid browsers typically have relatively poor documentation of their
usage, especially as regards to things like using keyboard only for filling
out a form.

Jukka Korpela, senior adviser 
TIEKE Finnish Information Society Development Centre
http://www.tieke.fi/  My phone +358 9 4763 0397
Received on Wednesday, 6 November 2002 05:25:51 UTC

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