Skip to main content

Browser access keys

Tags: accessibility

Thanks to the Nexus Clash PBBG, I have (somewhat) recently been exposed to web browser access keys. I think if it had not been a web app, such as the game, but rather a web site, such as someone's blog, I would not have seen them for the useful tool that they can be. (See this article detailing a few reasons why they are less than stellar for accessibility when consuming more passive web content.)

Wikipedia mentions that they are used to jump to specific parts of a web page, but in the modern world, they can also be used to trigger various interactions. You could have them trigger a button click, for instance, rather than jumping to the main article or the table of contents... if your site even has such a thing within its interface. In Nexus Clash, the access key S is used to perform a search of the immediate surroundings.

Personally, I think they can be a wonderful addition to an interaction-heavy web application. I am in the process of building a play-by-post tabletop roleplaying game web app, and I know I'm going to be incorporating access keys as part of my accessibility (and convenience) strategy. It is a site that, at least ideally, the user will be returning to often; and many of the interactions they have with the interface will be repeated as part of the core loop. Having access keys should make that easier on keyboard users of all abilities. I may even go so far as to make them configurable by the user as part of their profile settings, so they can adjust them to what is most comfortable, both physically and mnemonically.

Nothing much else to add here; no grand exposition or opinion piece. I just stumbled across them, am planning to implement them in my own project very soon, and figured their existence was worth reminding the world of.