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RE: Access Element is WRONG (was RE: Are we really still talking about Access Keys?)

From: John Foliot - WATS.ca <foliot@wats.ca>
Date: Sun, 5 Jun 2005 08:10:32 -0400
To: "'Richard Schwerdtfeger'" <schwer@us.ibm.com>
Cc: "'w3c-wai-ig'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, "'wai-xtech'" <wai-xtech@w3.org>, "'www-html'" <www-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <001801c569c7$939dfc20$6401a8c0@bosshog>

Richard Schwerdtfeger wrote:
> The key bindings provided were from a request by others for
> backward compatability shortcuts. 

Could you kindly point us to the W3C archived entry of this request (single
posting, or better yet, the thread where this was discussed, debated and

I too am an "other", and as we are still dealing with a Draft document, I am
requesting that it be re-addressed, as in my opinion it is still wrong.  I
have written for what seems like hours now on this topic over the past 3
days, and have submitted a formal request for this to be reviewed to

> If you feel compelled to
> create your own personal key bindings then use xml events.

Actually, in the current draft, I do not need to. As an author, <access
key="C" targetid="copyright"> has just created my own personal binding (as
by my reading this is perfectly valid according to the latest draft).  That
it may not work for thousands (millions?) apparently is of little concern.
(Oh wait... Go into Tools>> Options>> Settings>> Access Key over-ride>> "To
over-ride author written access keys, check here, indicate which key(s) you
wish to change and provide alternatives.  To ensure that this applies only
to the current site, as the next author may decide that the same function
has access key="P", check here.  You will need to re-start your browser for
this change to take effect." ...Yes, I can see it now...)

> Unfortunately, there was a request from wcag to have the keys
> provided. We did not have the keys initially.

Then unfortunately WCAG still has it wrong.  That the initial WCAG is now 6
years old and full of other "issues" shall not be addressed.  That WCAG 2 is
still in draft (making it non-normative) also cannot come into play.  That
both will always be Guidelines instead of Recommendations is also a factor.
This seems to me to be a cop-out; "...it's not our fault, another group told
us to do it".  

I know you did not initially have 'keys' there (back when access was still
an attribute), we reported that fact and cheered in August of 2004:
http://wats.ca/articles/thefutureofaccesskeys/66.  The path from attribute
to element appears murky at best to me, and I am questioning it here now.

> Since, they are not required, I do not see this as a serious issue.

Since an author can create the bindings (thus forcing potential end users to
have to "undo" the author's work and re-create something that works for
them) it *is* an issue.  Entities such as the UK government will continue to
mandate developers to use Access Key="S" and end users will still have to
struggle with flawed implementation, delivery and conflict resolution.

"S" is in fact, (as Al Gilman would say) my poster child for how wrong this
can become.  Consider:

* "UK Standard": Access key "S" = Skip navigation 

* MozDev.org: Access key "S" = Search 

* W3C XHTML2 draft (illustrative example): Access key "S" = Social Security

* Dr. John Slatin's JAWS installation on his laptop: "S" = "Change Screen

* John Foliot's Firefox install: "S" opens Sage News Reader

* Richard Schwerdtfeger's IBM HomePageReader: "S" opens user settings.

If the WG (or PF or whomever) feels that it is imperative for the author to
have the ability to force their mappings to the end user, where sir is the
standard, guideline or techniques for dispute resolution to address the
above?  How does the W3C see the above peacefully co-existing, without
placing undue burden on the end user, and yet still provide the
functionality desired?

These postings are also being sent to the WAI-IG list, and so I am sure that
numerous other accessibility advocates will also look to the W3C for this

John Foliot  foliot@wats.ca
Web Accessibility Specialist / Co-founder of WATS.ca
Web Accessibility Testing and Services
Phone: 1-613-482-7053
Received on Sunday, 5 June 2005 12:10:49 UTC

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