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Re: Possible problem in HTML 4.0 specification for access keys.

From: Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 17:50:28 -0400
Message-ID: <377156A4.6F464CD0@w3.org>
CC: www-html-editor@w3.org, w3c-html-wg@w3.org

Your point is very timely. We're examining this issue
in our User Agent Accessibility Guidelines, where we should
recommend that user agents allow users to turn off author-specified
keyboard configurations, notably where they interfere with
system conventions or accessibility.

I'm not sure whether the HTML 4.0 spec should be modified as 
well, for example adding a statement to the effect that
user agents should allow users to turn off access key support

Thank you for the comments,

 - Ian

> The HTML 4.0 specification contains the following text:
>         In this example, we assign an access key to a link defined by
>         the A element. Typing this access key takes the user to another
>         document, in this case, a table of contents.
>         <P><A accesskey="C"
>                 rel="contents"
>                 href="http://someplace.com/specification/contents.html">
>         Table of Contents</A>
>         The invocation of access keys depends on the underlying system.                 For
> instance, on machines running MS Windows, one generally
>         has to press the "alt" key in addition to the access key.
>         On Apple systems, one generally has to press the "cmd" key
>         in addition to the access key.
> The problem with this statement is that, if "C" is defined as an
> access key as in the example, there is a conflict with what a
> browser would normally do: "cmd C" on Apple systems is used by all
> applications to mean "copy".  Netscape and Internet Explorer
> follow this convention.  If the browser's default takes precedence,
> then the accesskey won't work if activated by the "cmd" key as
> described in the HTML specification.  If the ACCESSKEY specification
> overrides the browswer, then the browser does not comform to the
> user interface guidelines for MacIntosh programs.
> I'm not sure if the description in the HTML 4.0 specification needs
> a minor change or if there is a problem in general: one would not
> want to have to produce different versions of an HTML 4.0 file,
> depending on the browser.  Picking accesskeys so as not to
> collide with keyboard shortcuts used by various products is
> awkward given multiple operating systems, windowing systems,
> and browsers, each with different conventions.
> Bill

Ian Jacobs (jacobs@w3.org)   http://www.w3.org/People/Jacobs
Tel/Fax:                     +1 212 684-1814
Received on Wednesday, 23 June 1999 17:49:33 UTC

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