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Access keys are not living up to their potential in providing assistance to those who need it, and convenience for those who appreciate it. This seems to be because of a need for standards which have been slow to develop.  We offer a system of key conventions that we think many will find useful for their sites.
On This Page:
Key Assignments,    Standard Development
Symbol Keys,    Users,    Quotes
Articles,    Links
See also, A la Carte Pages on:

Accessibility,    Visitability,   
Frames,    Descriptions,   

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Assignment of Keyboard Shortcuts Permalink: URL of this post will appear in your browser's location box

The following keys have been defined for this page and for any of our pages which have sent you directly to this section of this page in response to 'Access - 0' (eventually all of them). Not all Offsitebrowsers support this feature, and those that do may use a variety of key combinations. For most users the access key is the alt-key. Others employ the ctrl-key in combination with the characters presented below. The feature is case insensitive.

1    1st page (home) of current sub-site, or Super Home if on such a page
2     Top navigation bar, text version if available  (Two is for Top Navbar)
3     Table of Contents of current page    (Three's rhymes T o'C-- same as 'j')
4     Search for something, local or foreign   (Four is for '4eign' i.e. off site, off page)
           Deprecated. Please use s for search.
5    Fine starting place.  (Five is for fine.    5kip to 5ummary)
6     Completely different points of view, page or section  (Six is for Sickies!  j/k)
7     List of local pages related to current one   (Seven, up to page-list heaven)
8     Tell a friend about the current page    (Eight, Hey this page is 'gr8!')
9     Contact author. Feedback, complaints.   (Think backwards 'e', as in e-mail)
0     Access Key assignments (You are here)

   a     reserved for browser's favorites
b      about. The 'About' page for  current sub-site, or main 'About' page if on such page
   c     reserved for browser's communicator-menu
d     Descriptions of images, focused appropriately
   e - i      reserved for browser's edit-, file-, go-, help-, and insert-menu
J     jump. Move focus to Table of Contents (same as '3')
k     skip. Move focus to beginning of main body of content
L     links page or links section on same page
m    SiteMap, focused on the entry for the current page
n     New.  Moves focus to most recently added item on the current page
o     Orientation.  Where am I? Navigation help
p     Privacy policy
q     Quotes by insightful people (other sites could use q for FAQ)
r      Rings -- webrings page or section
s      Search locally or entire Web (preferred to the deprecated '4')
   t      reserved for browser's tools-menu
u     Updates,  what's new?  For just plain 'up' use ctrl-home instead
   v     reserved for browser's view-menu
w    Webminder's personal information
x     break frames ('X' them out)
y     young pages. Birthings of new pages
z      text only verzion, if applicable, otherwise to list of text only articles

Settling Upon a Standard Permalink: URL of this post will appear in your browser's location box

The assignments that are most commonly used are those for 0, 1, 9, s, and 4. If you're a webminder just considering including some access key functionality those five are the most useful. There is some conflict for the other keys between standards set by various governments:  United Kingdom, Queensland, U.S. Navy. We're choosing to use the ones that we think would make the most sense for the majority of websites, not just our own. 

For access keys to be useful they need to be uniformly employed from site to site. To that end we've tried to choose keys that are more mnemonically intuitive than the choices made by the Offsiterocket scientists at NASA. Here's a site that makes an interesting attempt at creating memorable key choices:  Dee's Wonky Window.

Preference is given to choices which degrade gracefully. For example, it's not so bad if someone accesses 'w' expecting to write e-mail to the author if it takes them to webminder's home page, where there is a prominent and early link for e-mail. Similarly, it's not so bad if someone uses alt-m for mail, if they get the map, where they can easily see how to send mail.

Sometimes organizations recommend using different keys for the same functions.  Some browsers support only access letters. Others only access numbers. Where possible, we try to provide both. It is hoped that in the case of a conflict with pre-existing alt-key assignments, this redundancy will allow continued access to our functions. Here are some uses made of access keys by other webminders that seemed as though they might be useful on many sites (but that we don't use): terms and conditions, and forum (4). We may use alt-4 for forum if we can succeed in getting people to switch 'search' to the letter 'S'.

Looking Wistfully at the Symbol Keys Permalink: URL of this post will appear in your browser's location box

If more browsers would allow symbol keys to serve for this purpose some logical choices would be e-mail (@), comment (,), links ( _ ), statistics (#), disclaimers (~), censorship policy (!), donations ($), related pages on site (&), search (+), quotations ("), most popular pages (*), help, navigation (?), up (^), up one directory level (/), previous (<), next (>), jump ([),  and end section(.).  Perhaps you could think up some good uses for %, =, minus, apostrophe, colon, semi-colon, parentheses, brackets, and braces. Here are some sites that think these symbols already work (Community Net Aotearoa, College of Liberal Arts)

Who is Using This Schema? Permalink: URL of this post will appear in your browser's location box

If we learn of your page that is using five or more of the above character-function combinations, we will probably list it here. Meanwhile, here are some that use four of the assignments:
Valuation Office Agency
West Oxfordshire District Council
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Field Studies Council
North Ayrshire Council
Bedford College
Field Studies Council
English Nature
South Tyneside
Gamba Seafood Restaurant
Borough of Telford & Wrekin

Quote About Access Keys Permalink: URL of this post will appear in your browser's location box

The ACCESSKEY attribute implementation typically uses the same technique (Alt key) as the browser's built-in user interface. This means that access key assignments in a document may mask out some basic functionality which users might be familiar with or, less seriously, the built-in assignments might mask out the page-specific assignments. -- OffsiteJukka Korpela

.Other Quotes.

off siteArticles About Access Keys Permalink: URL of this post will appear in your browser's location box

.Accesskeys: Unlocking Hidden Navigation (Stuard Robertson).
Proposes a stylesheet method for introducing the underlining of the initial character of a word as a signal that that character is a hot key for non-mouse access. Too bad I can't yet understand how to implement that. It looks like it would be good, though, for those who are only slightly more technically savvy than I am.
how useful are access keys at present?
Improving Accessibility with accesskey (Jukka Korpela)

off siteOnline Resources on Access Keys Permalink: URL of this post will appear in your browser's location box

I Do Not Use Access Keys (Mezzoblue)
An extended discussion of access key conflicts with browser presets, and operating system level shortcuts. One participant proposes the idea (as I understand it) of having a system whereby web authors could provide hooks to significant locations upon their pages and sites, to which users might redefine their own shortcuts.
Some Little Known Standard Keyboard Shortcuts
Choosing Access Keys

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