W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > wai-xtech@w3.org > October 2002

Re: activation / focus and users Re: Access Key

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 2 Oct 2002 05:16:43 -0400 (EDT)
To: Tantek Çelik <tantek@cs.stanford.edu>
cc: Jon Gunderson <jongund@uiuc.edu>, WAI Cross-group list <wai-xtech@w3.org>, HTML WG <w3c-html-wg@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0210020445430.2662-100000@tux.w3.org>

I would assert that we are not talking about "accessibility" vs "Power
users", but issues related to people with sensory disabilities and issues
related to people with motor disabilities.

And the answer is "Yes, there really is quite a lot of difference between
each of type accesskey without modifier, type modifier and accesskey, and
type modifier, accesskey, press return."  In my case it is simply "stop,
stretch, ouch, tap tap tap - perhaps a second and a short and minor bit of
discomfort". But for other people it can be a rather more difficult - much
more akin to the situation with a mobile phone (where you have already argued
that it makes sense to have the "activate immediately" behaviour [1]).

The typical typist convention is to be able to use 8 fingers and two thumbs.
One of the problems I have is that on a bad day I need to restrict myself to
about 4 fingers (I am in fact an 8-finger typist). Other people have only one
"finger", which may well be a headstick or mouthstick, or the heel of their

Think of conditions such as the advanced stages of parkinson's disease,
spinal injury, cerebral palsy, etc.

I think it makes sense that User agents MUST allow the "focus and wait"
behaviour, and SHOULD make available the "activate directly" behaviour. It
should also be pointed out to authors explicitly that this might be the case,
and that having the same accesskey for different functions is an error - i.e.
it is reasonable to have the same key for two a elements and an area element
which all have the same href attribute. But it does not make sense for an a
element which provides help about a form and for the submit button of that
form to have the same accesskey. This is implicit in what the HTML spec says
is probable User Agent behaviour [2], but I think should be made explicit.

The behaviour being described by using the same accesskey multiple times is
in fact clearly specified in HTML 4 for tabindex [3].

I don't think the argument about wanting to be able to activate onfocus means
that it should not be possible to bypass that. onfocus behaviour in a user (I
am at the link that I could now activate - give me more information) is
essentially mimicked by onmouseover, and while it is useful to have various
onmouseover behaviours (or :focus , :hover in CSS) to do things like
highlight that a link is current or make sub-options available (the pop-up
menu), for many users much of the time the value is nil, and they are
prepared to trade it for getting to where they want to go.

So I am happy for either behaviour to be the default in IE, for all the good
reasons that you mentioned. But I think we will be failing a group of people
with a genuine accessibility need if we don't say that the direct activation
behaviour is a reasonable default for a browser.



[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/wai-xtech/2002Oct/0009
[2] http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/interact/forms.html#adef-accesskey
[3] http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/interact/forms.html#adef-tabindex

On Tue, 1 Oct 2002, Tantek Çelik wrote:

>It appears that we are talking about two different (but at times
>overlapping) communities of users.
>(1) Accessibility
>(2) Power Users
>I believe that while serving (1) very often indirectly serves (2) as well,
>(1) should take priority over (2) when conflicts arise, or when designing
>"default behaviors".
>I would assert that Charles' use of his "own case" and reference to
>efficiency places his example in (2).
>While I certainly understand the plea for efficiency, is there really that
>much difference in efficiency between:
>a) type accesskey (with modifier)
>b) type accesskey (with modifier) and press return
>As far as overuse of hands, consider that typical typist convention is to
>use the right pinky finger to press the return key, and the right pinky
>finger is one of the least used from a frequency of keypresses standpoint.
>I concur with Jon Gunderson's point about sequentially moving the focus
>among form controls/links with the same accesskey.[2]
Received on Wednesday, 2 October 2002 05:16:46 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Friday, 17 January 2020 22:25:10 UTC