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RE: Skip links and keyboard navigation

From: Foliot, John <john.foliot@chase.com>
Date: Fri, 7 Dec 2012 18:39:09 +0000
To: Charles McCathie Nevile <chaals@yandex-team.ru>, "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org list" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, Vivienne CONWAY <v.conway@ecu.edu.au>
Message-ID: <D0DBF1AE71D5D1448811AC41795190740E94E82F@SCACMX021.exchad.jpmchase.net>
Hi Vivienne,

I’m not 100% sure I follow here. For skip links to be useful for non-sighted users (screen reader users), they must be able to take focus so that they can be activated. For this reason, I don’t think it’s an issue of “skip links can’t/don’t take focus”, but rather that the focus indication is not apparent to all users – i.e. the sighted, keyboard-only user. The functionality *is* there for all users, it’s just that not all users will be made aware of that functionality.

With that in mind, ‘always-hidden’ skip-nav links fail WCAG2 because of 2.4.7<http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/REC-WCAG20-20081211/#navigation-mechanisms-focus-visible> Focus Visible: Any keyboard operable user interface has a mode of operation where the keyboard focus indicator is visible. (Level AA)

Currently I am aware of 2 ways of addressing this issue: the first is to have a persistent, on screen “Skip Navigation” link (see: http://webaim.org/), or one that appears/disappears when tab-focus is applied (see: http://www.va.gov/ - try tabbing through the page/site). I wrote about this a few years ago, including one possible CSS solution (see: http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/soap/tips/skipnav).

Hope this answers your question.

John Foliot
Senior Web Accessibility Specialist

From: Charles McCathie Nevile [mailto:chaals@yandex-team.ru]
Sent: Thursday, December 06, 2012 6:20 PM
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org list; Vivienne CONWAY
Subject: Re: Skip links and keyboard navigation

On Thu, 06 Dec 2012 00:28:40 +0100, Vivienne CONWAY <v.conway@ecu.edu.au> wrote:
Hi all

I thought I'd pass this issue past the experts in this group for your opinion.

This issue involves skip links that do not appear with keyboard activation - in other words dont' show focus either all the time or with keyboard focus.

Obviously if they are there and hidden, the screen reader user still hears them, but the keyboard only user does not receive that benefit and has to tab throughout the whole page to get to the main content.

G202: Ensuring keyboard control for all functionality which covers 2.1.1 and 2.1.3 says “The objective of this technique is to provide keyboard operation for all the functionality (defined as processes and outcomes achievable through user action) of the page.”  In this case (when the keyboarder can’t access the skip links), it would appear they can’t have keyboard operation for all the functionality of the page.  What keyboarders can’t do is to access the skip links, which really benefits a keyboard only user as they can’t skip the multitude of navigational links.

Would you agree that this fails 2.1.1 when the keyboard operation doesn’t activate the skip links, which means that it should also fail 2.1.3?

As I read it, if the user can't get focus with the keyboard for the "skip link" link unless they have a screen reader, and that is the mechanism provided, then the functionality is not available, and so it fails 2.1.1 - and since the failure is not related to particular timing, it also fails 2.1.3.

Earlier this year we had a discussion on this list about using structure instead of "skip links" links to meet the underlying requirement, and for a look to the future see discussions on the main element, navigation using aria landmarks, etc.





Vivienne L. Conway, B.IT(Hons), MACS CT, AALIA(cs)
PhD Candidate & Sessional Lecturer, Edith Cowan University, Perth, W.A.
Director, Web Key IT Pty Ltd.
Mob: 0415 383 673

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Received on Friday, 7 December 2012 18:39:51 UTC

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