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Re: Accesskey in XHTML 2

From: Jesper Tverskov <jesper.tverskov@mail.tele.dk>
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 12:31:06 +0200
To: <www-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <PMEDKJMNFKKCPMNLCCFIMECLCFAA.jesper.tverskov@mail.tele.dk>

HTML Accesskey is a shame because it is not working, it is an ill conceived scheme that will never work without a lot of changes. If we want to make the web more accessible for keyboard users, it is high time to do something about it.

The main problem is that we need the browsers to give us access to two sets of access keys, one for the browser, and one for the web page. Opera does that using ALT for its own access keys, and Shift+Esc for the access keys in the web page.

Other user agents should implement a similar fool proof way to distinguish between the access keys of the browser and of the web page. In Internet Explorer and Mozilla we actually have a way do distinguish between the two sets of access keys. When we need the access keys in the browser we press ALT and slip it again, then the menu is active, and then we can press the access key, and when we want the access key in the web page, we can press ALT and keep it pressed down when pressing the access key.  This method is only good enough for power users.

The recommendation for XHTML-2 should mention that the idea is to have a full set of access keys for the web page, and that the user agents are supposed to give us a way to choose between the access keys of the browser and the access keys of the web page.

In the recommendation for user agents it should be clearly stated that they should provide a way to choose between the two different sets of access keys, the set for the browser and the set for the web page.

Also in the recommendation for user agents it should be stated, that they should implement a feature like "Find as You Type" in Mozilla. It can be set up to work with links only and only for the first letter of a link, giving us a perfect way of navigaitng the links of a web page using the first letter principle: First letter is always the access key letter.

See documentation for "Find As You Type" here:
http://www.mozilla.org/projects/ui/accessibility/typeaheadfind.html

If great browsers like Internet Explorer implement a feature like "Find As You Type", and boils it down to the essentials: links and first letter, most websites would not need access keys for anything, saving web page authors for a lot of time and trouble. The "Find As You Type"-feature could mean a revolution in accessibility for keyboard navigation. On some websites web page authors can still add HTML Accesskey for even more usability if needed.

I have written an article about these problems: Use first letter as ACCESSKEY:
http://www.smackthemouse.com/artikel.aspx?xml=20021031
The article is dated if read alone, but read with this mail it adds a lot to the discussion.

Best regards,
Jesper Tverskov
www.smackthemouse.com
Received on Thursday, 19 June 2003 06:24:29 GMT

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