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Re: Copywriting for Screenreaders (was Alt text for URL's)

From: Andy Budd <andy@message.uk.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2005 09:48:40 +0000
Message-Id: <c1f5045562e766a13f2ef7d19005dcc0@message.uk.com>
To: W <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

> Ok,  I'll put it succinctly.  If site navigation is so bad that it 
> needs to
> be skipped, how can it be improved so that it does not need to be 
> skipped.

Nobody is suggesting that skip links are there to deal with *bad* 

Sighted users have the ability to visually skip past site navigation 
and straight to the content by scanning the page. However screenreader 
users access the page in a linear fashion and can't do this (see caveat 
below). The point of skip navigation is to give screenrreader users the 
ability to jump directly to the content if that's what they want to do.

Site navigation is usually made up of a number of links, all of which 
need to be tabbed past if using the keyboard to navigate. If you're got 
to tab past 20 link on each page before you reach the main content, 
this can be very tedious and a bar to accessibility.

Some screenreaders can display heading lists. Assuming the users are 
familiar with this ability, it can allow them to jump to the main 
content in well marked up sites. Also it is possible via CSS to have 
the nav come last rather than first. However then people navigating via 
the keyboard will have to tab though the who content to get to the nav 
bar, which on link heavy pages, could be a nightmare (think a links 

Personally I think "skip links" are unobtrusive so I'm really not sure 
what your problem with them is. It's kind of like complaining about 
putting a lift in a building to increase accessibility because the 
stairs could have been made better.

Andy Budd

Received on Thursday, 17 February 2005 09:48:48 UTC

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