Not every user has a graphic environment with a mouse or other pointing device. Some users rely on keyboard, alternative keyboard or voice input to navigate links, activate form controls, etc. Content developers should always ensure that users may interact with a page with devices other than a pointing device. A page designed for keyboard access (in addition to mouse access) will generally be accessible to users with other input devices.
The need for access keys (in some sense) is obvious. There are many reasons why pages should be made useable using keyboard only, without a mouse, and in a convenient way. But the access key attributes don't seem to help in solving the problem very well. They might be useful, if a site-wide system of access keys makes a site more easily navigable. If you use them, the assignments should be described separately, not in title attributes or relying on underlining or other small hints.
The access keys used in our Talking Hands Award criteria section are shown below:
Top of page is shown where active as Alt-A or Enter- Top of Page. As a practical matter you could use your tab which would highlight the active links in a page and then enter to do the same thing as alt, then a, then enter or depending upon the browser not have to use enter. So why go to the trouble of using access keys?
Ease in the navigation of forms with an access key, rather than having to tab through the form.
Pressing an access key assigned to an element gives focus to the element. The action that occurs when an element receives focus depends on the element. For example, when a user activates a link defined by the A element, the user agent generally follows the link. When a user activates a radio button, the user agent changes the value of the radio button. When the user activates a text field, it allows input, etc.
Close window does not have an access key, but if you "tab" the close window will be highlighted and then enter to close the window.
This example of navigating a web site without a mouse will pray fully encourage the web author to carefully inventory their web sites to determine whether access keys could be used for those with disABILITIES. Since this author has CTS, navigating a web site without a mouse would be a pleasure, rather than resulting in numb fingers.
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