Props to Capital Area District Library on their web site

Was just looking up something on the CADL site for my wife, and, as is my habit, I took a quick peek at the HTML code (View -> View Source in Safari). I was pleased to see first that it appears to be valid XHTML 1.0, and quickly noted some nice uses of accesskey attributes in the a elements. Very humane coding. Nice.

Specifically, I noted this pattern repeated for nav links:

<a href="/databases/"
title="Research Tools and Databases. AccessKey: d"
accesskey="d">
Research Tools
</a>

The title attribute will inform users of which accesskey is set for which link.

To see how this works, hold your mouse over the following link.
Capital Area District Library
Then, if you are on a Mac, hold down the CTRL key and that key on your keyboard. If you are using Safari, that should just load up that URL for you.

If you are on a Windows machine, you might need to press ALT or some other key. I’m not sure. Try something. May the force be with you.

The reason we care is that we are always open to ways of making our web sites more accessible for people with disabilities, and the accesskey can be quite helpful for people who may not be in a position to use a mouse. I imagine that some assistive technologies make use of the attribute as well.

If anyone out there knows more of the nitty-gritty detail of how the accesskey attribute is practically applied, I’m interested.

Author: Davin Granroth

Davin is Chief Operating Officer for Covenant Eyes, Inc. in Owosso, MI, USA, where he gets to mix his background in user experience design, research, and strategy with the operation of a software company. For more, see his LinkedIn profile.

3 thoughts on “Props to Capital Area District Library on their web site”

  1. Thanks for your kind words about our site! We’ve worked hard over the last four months to wrench our site out of Frontpage-generated HTML cruft and into decent, validating XHTML 1.0 Transitional.

    BTW, I first saw the including of the accesskey in the anchor’s title attribute at the excellent CSS Zen Garden site (http://www.csszengarden.com/).

    In the near future I hope to work with a librarian at the State of Michigan Library who uses assistive technology every day so we can see how the site “looks” to him.

  2. OK. I think I get it. Hit Control and the letter and it takes you there in Safari. Control L to go to the library site from your page. Control H to go Home.

    Wouldn’t it be cool if pages coylds create a standard set of conmmon page interface options, like Always using H for home and S for Support, etc. (I know, I know they artelady have done that.) Maybe I woud want to turn in my mouse. I was quite the Lotus 1-2-3 command wizzard in my day.

    I’m sorry your blog readers were still in elementary school at the time. All I have to say is /FS and /FQ for now.

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