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RE: Accesskey consensus

From: Derek Featherstone <feather@furtherahead.com>
Date: Wed, 28 May 2003 08:28:55 -0400
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <005601c32514$bb9eb560$fe01a8c0@faottcan001>

Jesper wrote:
> Opera 7.0 uses SHIFT+ESC for the HTML access keys and ALT for the access
> keys in the browser. In Internet Explorer and Mozilla we can use
> to get to the access keys in the web page and ALT (and slip it again) +
> to get to the access keys in the browser.

Using accesskeys in this manner is possible if you are considering our
regular every day Graphical User Agents such as IE, Netscape 6+, Opera and
Mozialla and others. You have mentioned it, and I posted about it in
response to the survey John Foliot and I were conducting in a related thread
last year (see http://webaim.org/discussion/mail_message.php?id=2270 )

As Bill has pointed out before, most people don't recognize this difference
in keystroke because it is so very counter-intuitive and will require
massive re-education efforts that seem to be unrealistic. At first I thought
the difference in keystrokes was the key, and that we could make a case for
using them, defining any accesskey we wanted.

However, the issue isn't so much with the Graphical UA's listed above,
rather it is when we use assistive technology and alternative User Agents
that don't distinguish between these keystrokes.

By way of example, IBM's HomePageReader has built in keystroke shortcuts for
going into different modes:
Alt + L starts Links reading mode (only read the links on the page)
Alt + C starts Character reading mode (read character by character)
Alt + 1 starts Heading reading mode (reading only the headings on a page)
Alt + O (letter O not number zero) starts Controls reading mode

IBM HPR makes no distinction between these keystrokes and will not allow you
to use accesskeys. Besides, their mechanism actually seems to make more
sense -- using links mode to cycle through a list of links seems much more
useful and usable.

Paul Bohman at WebAim also indicated that Windows Eyes has similar reserved
characters (see http://webaim.org/discussion/mail_message.php?id=2259 )
although I am not sure how they would or would not respond to the different
keystroke method of using accesskeys.

In any case, as has been previously mentioned -- the use of accesskeys is
very problematic especially when dealing with any adaptive or assistive
technology. Add to the mix the use of International keyboards where some
keys don't even exist, and it becomes even more difficult to effectively use

Just my 2 cents

Best regards,
Derek Featherstone     feather@furtherahead.com
Further Ahead Inc.
phone: 613.599.9784;
toll-free: 1.866.932.4878 (North America) 
Web Development: http://www.furtherahead.com
Training and Learning: http://www.completelearning.com
Received on Wednesday, 28 May 2003 13:54:26 UTC

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