Access Key Overview


Implementation of access keys is optional.

accesskey was included in HTML to provide a way for developers to provide keyboard shortcuts to frequently used links or form controls. One of the major envisioned uses of accesskey was to improve accessibility of web resources for people with disabilities. This potential has never been realized for various reasons, including:

While accesskey does not enjoy wide spread success, it id still useful for providing consistent access to common page structures. The three common structures found in many websites are a primary navigation bar, a content section and a search function. Providing consistent and efficient access to these structures can be accomplished through access keys and internal links.

Using numbers as access keys and limiting the numbers of access keys eliminates many of the internationalization issues and makes the access key set easier for users to remember.

When websites implement access keys, this should be clearly indicated for the screen reader users.

Benefits to People with Disabilities

  1. Keyboard users, including people with physical disabilities and screen reader users, can directly navigate to form controls and other major elements of web resources.

Benefits to All Users

  1. Users can navigate directly to form controls and other major elements.

Benefits to Developers

  1. The website is more usable for keyboard users.

Related Resources

  1. Using Accesskeys - Is it worth it? (John Foliot)

HTML Markup Details

accesskey attribute
accesskey attribute can be defined on the following HTML elements: a, area, button, input, label, legend, and textarea.

Related Accessibility Requirements

Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Standards
9.2 Provide a means of skipping past repetitive navigation links.
Section 508
1194.22 (o) A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.
W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0
2.4.1 Bypass Blocks
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 1.0)
9.5 Provide keyboard shortcuts to important links (including those in client-side image maps), form controls, and groups of form controls. [Priority 3]