Access keys – Do you use them or lose them?

19/01/2008 R Tyler 0 Comments

Here’s one for you reader?

Do you add access key support to your website or not?

I know you can go to the W3C or equivalent site and get an answer to this question by way of recommended best practice (or at least some guidance on the question of access-keys). That’s what I’m planning to do next, but I’m wondering what is the general consensus of feeling/opinion on this topic. I was taught, and always believed, that web page access keys were a good thing!

Here’s the short extract from an accessibility advice article. I’ve not included the web site reference, but if you are interested you could search (with your search engine of choice) for a phrase from the article to find it.

“Don’t use access keys! You can assign access keys to any links or form items so as to provide keyboard shortcuts to them. In theory this sounds like a great idea as screen reader and keyboard-only users should easily be able to activate key links from anywhere on any page. Access keys shouldn’t however be used as they can override keyboard shortcuts for screen readers, rendering key screen reader functionality useless. The other problem with access keys is there’s no convention so the few sites that use them do so in whichever way they choose. Site visitors are unlikely to spend the time getting accustomed to your website’s particular access keys.”

Any thought’s on this topic would be welcome please?

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