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Re: Accesskeys and other link levels

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@sidar.org>
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 2004 01:15:29 +0100
Cc: "Isabelle" <isabelle@visisoul.com>, "W3c-Wai-Ig" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
To: "John Foliot - WATS.ca" <foliot@wats.ca>
Message-Id: <99D6E28E-40A6-11D8-8183-000A958826AA@sidar.org>


Yes, there are compatibility problems (this is poor browser design on 
top of accesskeys being underspecified in the first place, but it's a 
real problem at the moment).

They don't work in every browser, but this is fine. If you don't want 
them, it doesn't matter if your browser doesn't support them. Opera is 
good (and generally does support numbers) but iCab is even better, 
although it is sadly lacking in some other keyboard support.

They are valuable for certain types of people in certain situations. 
(But the same is true of alt text - I use it infrequently, and don't 
rely on it anymore, but screenreader users still do). In principle 
accesskey users would love to have an accesskey for every link, but 
there is a balance to be struck here - some people use them because 
they have a restricted keyboard and each key is already a multiple 
step. (And the normal pattern of implementation is to add a few extra 
keys, which is understandable but not helpful).

I strongly agree with John about link - if you have something that's 
covered by the rel attribute you should use link (and for that matter 
rel on the a element, although Opera was I think the first browser to 
wake up to what that's about, only a decade after the spec was 

I'm one of the people who does appreciate accesskeys - please keep 
using them.

Oh, and congratulations on explaining them - but you should be clear 
that your instructions only apply to Explorer. Opera uses shift-esc as 
a modifier, iCab doesn't require any modifier, Amaya allows 
configuration between ctrl and alt (kind of silly, because it uses 
those modifiers already), ...



On Tuesday, Jan 6, 2004, at 22:54 Europe/Rome, John Foliot - WATS.ca 

> Hello Isabelle,
> Ah, Accesskeys...  We have done quite some research on this topic and 
> have
> posted a number of articles about them at our website www.wats.ca
> In a nutshell, after taking a long hard look at Accesskeys, we have
> determined that they really don't provide a whole bunch of true
> accessibility, and the use of Accesskeys is fraught with 
> implementation and
> "universality" issues, the least of which being that across multiple 
> user
> agents and adaptive technology solutions the majority of available 
> keystroke
> combinations is reduced to virtually no real choices.  Even the 
> emerging UK
> quasi-standard (which uses numeric values) has conflicts with at least 
> one
> screen reading technology as well as being "non-functional" in a 
> number of
> older and current browsers: Opera for one (which started supporting
> Accesskeys in Version 7) does not support the use of numeric values...
> (oops!)
Charles McCathieNevile                          Fundación Sidar
charles@sidar.org                                http://www.sidar.org
Received on Tuesday, 6 January 2004 19:16:56 UTC

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