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Queen's University
 

Web Standards and Accessibility Guide

TabIndex, Accesskeys

Standard: Accesskeys must not to be used on any Queen's University web pages.

The HTML feature known as Accesskey is a navigational enhancement that allows you to jump to an active element (such as a form control or a link) on a page using a single keystroke. While in principle this feature would seem like a good idea and a benefit to users of adaptive technology, in reality it is fraught with a number of implementation issues that can, under certain circumstances, create more problems than it seeks to solve, as certain keystroke combinations may in fact be previously "claimed" by different software applications. Concurrently, there is not one standard that binds specific keystrokes to navigation or action items, compounding potential confusion. For this reason Accesskeys shall not be used on any publicly facing web page at Queen's University; they may be considered for use on private or intranet application, but only after extensive testing and consultation with the intended users.

Recommendation: Tabindex attributes should not be used on Queen's University web pages.

The tabindex attribute defines the tab-order through the document. This attribute actually overrides the default tab order that is built in to the web page. Tabindex has been used in web development for some time as a technique to overcome the limitations of using nested tables for layout.

With modern day web development techniques and Cascading Style Sheet-based layouts, the order of the source code usually makes sense for the tab order as well. Using tabindex may actually cause the tab order to be inconsistent with what the user expects and might be detrimental to keyboard users.

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