User-defined accesskeys - update

In response to a post by Mike Cherim to the GAWDs (external link) mailing list today, I've updated my accesskeys script and re-evaluated the way accesskey defaults should be handled. Mike was contacted by a user whose name contains an accented letter, which he enters using the keystrokes Alt +0228. If a site implements the UK Government accesskey recommendations, Alt-0 is the accesskey for the accesskey page, and a conflict arises preventing the user from producing his or her accented character. In fact any site implementing accesskeys 0-9 is creating potential conflicts for users requiring to input extended characters.

The solution is to implement no default accesskeys. To make it easier for a user to set standard keys I've extended the script to allow the site owner to provide suggested keys, which the user can set with a single form button (an idea borrowed from the implementation by Gez and Rich). I've also fixed a bug which was outputting empty accesskey attributes in some instances (thanks to Gez for the heads-up).

The extended script is running at ClacksWeb (external link) and will be running at Accessites.org (external link) in due course.

Comments

...or alternatively just to not implement accesskeys on pages where you have forms with input boxes.

Although I imagine this would cause just as many problems because of confusion etc, I'm merely playing Devil's Apricot.

Posted by: JackP at February 16, 2006 6:33 PM

That's certainly an option, but I prefer the consistency of having no default keys set for the site, and letting the user decide which keys if any should be set for the whole site.

Posted by: Dan at February 16, 2006 7:02 PM

Agree with Dan, if your going to have access keys they need to be consistent site-wide. Now that you've accomplished this Dan, and others who have presented similar solutions -Gez and Rich and anyone else who has put the effrot in, I wonder what arguments against the use of access keys remain.
Excellent work all. Hats off to you.

Posted by: GrantB at February 20, 2006 2:28 PM

I agree it is probably best just to leave the values null unless the user wants to employ them -- most won't I suspect. But I think it's a good idea to provide a keyboard activated shortcut, a jump link, to the form or the page it's on so to those likely needing them the most will have a fast way of getting there and setting theirs.

Posted by: Mike Cherim at February 26, 2006 1:19 AM

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