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RE: Access Keys - your collective help is urgently requested!

From: Lloyd G. Rasmussen <lras@loc.gov>
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 11:04:34 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

In my opinion, Accesskey should never have been put in the specs until
there was an understanding of a very small number of keys reserved for
specific navigation purposes.

Window-Eyes uses the alt numbers 0 through 9 for reading the contents of a
frame or window of information from the screen.  In WE 4.2 and probably
earlier, the SET file which configures Window-Eyes for use with IE has
alt-0, alt-1 and alt-2 undefined.  Alt-3 will read the whole IE application
window.  Since these "hotkeys" are handled by the screen reader, they are
not passed on to the browser.  I would think that HPR would intercept its
hotkeys before an accesskey directive could see it.  

See if you can design the pages with only one accesskey or none.  

At 04:24 PM 9/13/02 +0300, you wrote:
>John Foliot wrote:
>> - -a large group of institutional developers have
>> been recommended to implement a series of "Standardized" Access Keys
>> assigned to "Skip Nav" functionality across multiple web 
>> sites.  - - they have recommended 
>> the use of "Alt+1" and "Alt+2".  Users of IBM's Home Page Reader may 
>> recognise these as being  "Alt+1 = Headings Reading Mode" and
>> "Alt+2 = Text View".
>This is a mess.
>> It's a mess.
>It's a frustrating mess.
>I had thought, and the consensus of some discussion has been, as far as I
>know, that using digit keys as access keys is the safest way to avoid
>clashes with browsers' built-in shortcuts. I had even documented and
>recommended such usage:
>I hadn't used IBM HPR enough to have noted the problem. How serious is it in
>practice? How often are those shortcuts used, and are there alternative ways
>of doing what they do?
>> Current thinking is to move to "Alt+X", Alt+Y" and Alt+Z"
>I'm afraid any letters as access keys are reserved by one or (probably) more
>programs for some use. But if you're going to use letters, then those
>letters at the end of the English alphabet presumably have less use than
>others, just because it's more difficult to treat them as mnemonic in any
>way. (Well, X could be eXit, Y might be Yank, Z might be Zoom. Actually,
>Opera seems to use Alt+X and Alt+Z for moving within the history list; don't
>ask me why.)
>It is virtually impossible to test all the browsers, since the shortcut
>assignments vary even between different language versions. And it is not
>sufficient to consider shortcuts in assistive technology. The great majority
>of users use browsers that have some support to access keys, and this means
>that some built-in shortcuts will be overridden _without the users even
>knowing_ before they try to use some shortcut they are familiar with and
>observing something strange.
>For "Skip Nav", are access keys needed at all? Isn't it sufficient that
>there is a link to the start of the main content, or otherwise past the
>navigation? It could be a "visually hidden" link, i.e. a transparent
>single-pixel GIF with something like
>alt="Main content of the page."
>Such links have their problems, but I'd say that they are, as a whole, more
>tolerable than the harmful side effects of access keys.
>Jukka Korpela, senior adviser 
>TIEKE Finnish Information Society Development Centre
>Diffuse Business Guide to Web Accessibility and Design for All:
Braille is the solution to the digital divide.
Lloyd Rasmussen, Senior Staff Engineer
National Library Service f/t Blind and Physically Handicapped
Library of Congress    (202) 707-0535  <lras@loc.gov>
HOME:  <lras@sprynet.com>       <http://lras.home.sprynet.com>
Received on Friday, 13 September 2002 11:06:08 UTC

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