Enabling keyboard access to areas on the web not only supports those using screen readers to read content and navigation features but also those computer users trying to avoid strain injuries due to excessive mouse use.
Keyboard access can also help those with certain dexterity and mobility difficulties and on many occasions can provide speedier input to forms etc for all users.
All the browsers have different keyboard shortcuts but on the whole the tab key, arrow keys and the Enter or Return key are the most commonly used keys. The tab key tends to be used for going through the links on a page – shift + tab allows you to go back up.
YouTube Video link on keyboard access - Craig from the JISC Regional Support Centre NE Scotland demonstrates how the Intellikeys keyboard can be adapted to access the web along with a trackball and switch access.
If you are unsure about how a screen reader works, Neal Ewers from the Trace Research & Development Center, UW-Madison provides a very good introduction.
Turn your mouse on its back or avoid all use - manual testing is the only option.
You should see the links highlighted as you move through the pages or the cursor flashing when you reach an input box. The enter key should submit or result in a change of status.
Nomensa guide to keyboard access.
There is much advice on the web as to why keyboard access is so important – here are just a few links for further information:
- Webaim Introduction to Keyboard Accessibility
- Microsoft Windows list of keyboard shortcuts.
- Apple Mac list of keyboard shortcuts.
- NCAM Rich Media : Access Strategies - Keyboard Access for multimedia with examples
- RNIB - Beginner's guide to keyboard skills
- Amanda Koh writing about Keyboard Navigation for Responsive Web Design
Browser Keyboard Shortcuts
This technique may be used to test the following sections of best practice.
|WCAG 2.0||2.1.1||Keyboard||More Info|
|WCAG 2.0||2.4.1||Bypass Blocks||More Info|
|WCAG 2.0||2.4.7||Focus Visible||More Info|