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Re: Standard access keys?

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@sidar.org>
Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2003 14:55:53 +1000
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
To: carl.myhill@ps.ge.com
Message-Id: <113C5024-D9DD-11D7-9FFF-000A958826AA@sidar.org>

There is a standard here, which is the rel attribute, as applied to the 
link or a element - it means that a user can expect their browser to 
provide a consistent way of navigating important links that is part of 
the browser.

Accesskey provides a mechanism for extending that in a particular way - 
identifying the controls used on a particular page that are frequent 
navigation stops (login, current status, top of the page, find the 
nearest physical contact, cheapest option are all candidates in work I 
am currently doing, which is quite different to the ones I wanted to 
have a year ago).

In situations where people are using different keyboards, and making 
millions of websites, it seems hard to pick the 40 or so most common 
keys and functions. When I use the arabic keyboard I don't have the 
unicode characters "0123456789" readily available, nor any of the 
letters "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz", so anything that relies on those 
to make life easier doesn't work. (But I have control characters 
available, which means I can use system-standard shortcuts).

If there is a convention compatible with what you need then using it is 
better than creating something different. But there are limits to what 
can be achieved...



On Thursday, Aug 28, 2003, at 21:00 Australia/Sydney, 
carl.myhill@ps.ge.com wrote:

> Thanks for the input on this.
> I'm afraid I find it a bit outrageous that there is not a standard 
> quickly
> emerging here.  On most Windows Apps, and on the Mac too, there are 
> well
> defined standards for the basic shortcuts that are pretty much always
> dependable (unless you use EMACS) ...
> F1
> Ctrl+S
> Ctrl+N
> Ctrl+C
> Ctrl+V
> Ctrl+X
> Until we get to the stage where access keys for websites are this
> consistent, surely the access keys themselves are not going to help 
> much.
> If a disabled user knows that 'Alt+S' will always be the key to skip
> navigation on a site that has access keys, this is effective. If they 
> need
> to learn what the access keys are for each website - it would seem to 
> be
> more in the way of accessibility than aiding it.
> I've adopted the UK government guidelines because they seem to be 
> bedding in
> as a kind of standard (although the analysis here
> http://www.clagnut.com/blog/193/ shows the limitations and conflicts 
> with
> other standards).  The UK government publishing folks are generally 
> pretty
> sensitive to multi-cultural needs of our society so I am not worried 
> about
> country specificness here.
> I don't personally think much of using numbers for access keys because 
> they
> are not as meaningful as letters. It seems easier to me to remember 
> Alt+S is
> for 'skip'. However, this is an English only view of the world, so 
> numbers
> would seem to be more univeral.
> www.aquariusclub.net
> I'm not building a website for anyone with any particular needs. I 
> want my
> design, and others, to be universal. So, I'm making my access keys 
> visible
> on screen and accepting that it makes the design look slightly strange.
> Perhaps this is good strange - like buildings that once had grand 
> steps to
> the door and now have a ramp. It might not look pretty but why exclude
> people when you don't really need to.
> I feel quite strongly about this - is there a formal way to elevate 
> such
> issues to the WAI formerly? This would seem to need sorting out
> internationally.
> Carl
Charles McCathieNevile                          Fundación Sidar
charles@sidar.org                                http://www.sidar.org
Received on Friday, 29 August 2003 00:56:24 UTC

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