Why This Site Doesnt use Access Keys

The topic of accesskeys regularly appears on mailing lists, forums, and other arenas. Developers ask what the concensus is, and the answer is – there isn’t one.


I agree with Derek Featherstone, who states in his article More reasons why we don’t use accesskeys, that

We believe that the functionality accesskeys provide is worthwhile, but their implementation and standardization leave something to be desired

There are several problems with access keys, not least that they arent standardised, but the main issue is conflicts between site specific access keys, and shortcut keystrokes already used by the users browser or screen reader

Luckily the W3C has clear and easy to understand instructions [pretty rare eh? 🙂 ] for what to do in their article HTML Techniques for WCAG 2.0:

Do not use accesskey if browsers will create a conflict with their own features.

On many common browsers, the key combination to activate accesskey is the same as the combination to activate the browser’s own interface mnemonics. For most such browsers, when a particular accesskey is defined in a Web page, the HTML takes precedence and the feature of the browser’s user interface becomes unavailable or more difficult to access with the keyboard. Avoid using the accesskey until user agents resolve this problem.

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