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SAK2014: Standard Access Keys 2014

This is SAK2014. The first—and so far the only—comprehensive standard access key specification for contemporary websites. We named it SAK2014 so that we can release revised and improved standards in the future. But this is where we start. There's more introductory/overview material on the home page.

Contents

  1. Document Status
    1. Revision Date
  2. Research
    1. Browser Support and Limitations
    2. Implementation Philosophy
  3. Specification
    1. Compliance Level
    2. Numeric Access Keys
    3. Letter Access Keys
  4. Scope
    1. Site Scope
    2. Page Scope
  5. Window/Tab
    1. New Window
  6. Locations
    1. Help
    2. Home
    3. Sign-up / Create Account
    4. Site Map
    5. Search
    6. License
    7. Copyright
    8. Privacy Policy
    9. Terms & Conditions
    10. Contact Form and/or Details
    11. Access Keys
    12. Previous Article
    13. Next Article
    14. Back to Top
    15. Login
    16. Logout
    17. Blog / News
    18. Syndication Feed: RSS/Atom
    19. Social Media Sites / Networks
    20. Validate
  7. Tests

Document Status

This is a FINAL standard. It was ratified and published on Halloween (Oct 31st) 2014. Any changes to this standard will be released in successive versions. The latest version of this standard is SAK2014.

Revision Date

Document last revised: .

Research

This document evolved to fill a void. There just wasn't much guidance to be found on the internet in regard to standards for access keys. What we did find we tried to incorporate. To the extent that there were already some standards we tried to find them an use them. Following are a list of resources we used in our research:

Browser Support and Limitations

The HTML5 spec says that multiple access keys can be specified. In practice this doesn't work so we provide only one access key per feature.

Browsers support duplicate access keys differently, so we don't use duplicate access keys.

Specifying access keys gives rise to the possibility that the access keys nominated are already in use by some user agents. In such cases the user agent might override the site's access key specification and use a browser default instead. In order to mitigate and hopefully avoid such problems a selection of the most important functions use numeric access keys to avoid conflict. Letter access keys are more likely to collide. Also, it has been mentioned that some mobile devices only have a numeric keypad and are thus more readily able to specify a digit than a letter.

When implementing access keys for your site it is recommended that you provide a tooltip (at the end of the 'title' text) that tells the user what modifier keys and which access key to press to navigate to a specific feature. This will require browser and operating-system detection based on the USER_AGENT HTTP Header.

Implementation Philosophy

There are a wide range of issues with using access keys, mostly to do with conflicts occuring between what the websites specifies and what the user agent provides. Our philosophy is that in the case of conflicts the user agent wins. If the combination of modifier keys and access key in your browser conflicts with a key-binding that's used by a browser feature then the access key won't work. That's OK. In a lot of cases the access keys will work, and when they do they're handy. First: do no harm.

Specification

Compliance Level

This spec is broken into two parts:

  1. Numeric Access Keys
  2. Letter Access Keys

Minimal Compliance requires only support for Numeric Access Keys. Complete Compliance requires support for both Numeric Access Keys and Letter Access Keys.

Numeric Access Keys

Access Key Scope Location Window/Tab
0 (zero)PageHelpNew Window
1 (one)SiteHome
2 (two)SiteSign-up / Create Account
3 (three)SiteSite Map
4 (four)PageSearch
5 (five)PageLicense
6 (six)PageCopyright
7 (seven)SitePrivacy Policy
8 (eight)SiteTerms & Conditions
9 (nine)SiteContact Form and/or Details

Letter Access Keys

Access Key Scope Location Window/Tab
k (K)SiteAccess KeysNew Window
p (P)PagePrevious Article
n (N)PageNext Article
t (T)PageBack to Top
i (I)SiteLogin
o (O)SiteLogout
b (B)SiteBlog / News
f (F)SiteSyndication Feed: RSS/AtomNew Window
s (S)SiteSocial Media Sites / Networks
v (V)PageValidateNew Window

Scope

The scope of an access key determines whether the access key location is relative to the whole site or to the current page.

Site Scope

Site scope indicates that the access key location is relative to the entire site. If the access key designates a site scope then the user will always be taken to the same page regardless of where they are when they press the access key. For example the login access key will always take the user to the same login page for the entire site regardless of which page they are on when they invoke the login access key.

Page Scope

Page scope indicates that the access key location is relative to the current page. If the access key designates a page scope then the user will be taken to a page related to the page they are on when they press the access key. For example the license access key may take a user to the license for the content on the current page. In this case the location of the license may be another section on the same page. Any access key which is designated page scope can fallback to a site scope. For example, if all content on your site uses the same license then you can refer all requests for the license to the same page on your site.

Window/Tab

The window/tab specification indicates if the access key should load its location into the current window or into a new window. If loading into the current window (the default) then no additional configuration is necessary. Read about new windows to learn how to accomodate them.

New Window

To load an access key's location into a new window the anchor tag (<a>) needs its target attribute set to "_blank". For example:

<a href="/example" target="_blank">link<a>

Locations

Following are notes about the locations that access keys can refer to:

Help

Shows the help for the current page, or if help is not available for the current page shows the help for the entire site. Opens in a new window except if the help location is a section on the current page.

Access Key0 (zero)
ScopePage
Window/TabNew Window

Home

Shows the home page for the entire site. Opens in the current window.

Access Key1 (one)
ScopeSite
Window/TabCurrent Window

Sign-up / Create Account

Shows the sign-up / create account page for the entire site. Opens in the current window.

Access Key2 (two)
ScopeSite
Window/TabCurrent Window

Site Map

Shows the site map for the entire site. Opens in the current window.

Access Key3 (three)
ScopeSite
Window/TabCurrent Window

If the search form is on the current page sets the focus to the search input element. If the search form is on another page then load that page. Search context can be page relative, meaning, for example, that a search from the Books page would search for books and a search from the Movies page would search for movies. If there is no relevant search page then search the entire site. Opens in current window.

Access Key4 (four)
ScopePage
Window/TabCurrent Window

License

Shows the license for the content on the current page. If all pages on the site use the same license shows the license for the entire site. If all rights are reserved (i.e. no license) then this access key should load a page that explains that all rights are reserved and the content is not available under license. Opens in the current window.

Hot Tip! If you're looking for a content license for your site check-out Creative Commons.

Access Key5 (five)
ScopePage
Window/TabCurrent Window

Shows the copyright information for the current page. If all pages on the site have the same copyright shows the copyright information for the entire site. Opens in the current window.

Access Key6 (six)
ScopePage
Window/TabCurrent Window

Privacy Policy

Shows the privacy policy for the entire site. Opens in the current window.

Access Key7 (seven)
ScopeSite
Window/TabCurrent Window

Terms & Conditions

Shows the terms & conditions, terms of service, etc. for the entire site. Opens in the current window.

Access Key8 (eight)
ScopeSite
Window/TabCurrent Window

Contact Form and/or Details

Shows the contact details for the entire site. The contact details page might have a web-based contact form. Opens in the current window.

Access Key9 (nine)
ScopeSite
Window/TabCurrent Window

Access Keys

Shows information about the access keys supported by the website. This will often be a section on the Help page. Opens in a new window.

Hot Tip! If you want to use this SAK2014 standard without extensions or modifications then you can link the user to keys.sak2014.com which will provide the necessary documentation for your users.

Access Keyk (K)
ScopeSite
Window/TabNew Window

Previous Article

Shows the previous article, if there is one. Opens in current window.

Access Keyp (P)
ScopePage
Window/TabCurrent Window

Next Article

Shows the next article, if there is one. Opens in current window.

Access Keyn (N)
ScopePage
Window/TabCurrent Window

Back to Top

Returns the user to the top of the current page.

Hot Tip! You can link to the top of any page like this:

<a href="#" accesskey="t">Back to Top</a>
Access Keyt (T)
ScopePage
Window/TabCurrent Window

Login

Shows the login page for the site. Opens in current window.

Access Keyi (I)
ScopeSite
Window/TabCurrent Window

Logout

Invokes the logout process for the site. This access key should logout the user without requiring further action. Can be a link to the submit button for a logout form or a link to a page that automatically logs the user out. Opens in current window.

Access Keyo (O)
ScopeSite
Window/TabCurrent Window

Blog / News

Shows the blog and/or news for the site. Opens in current window.

Access Keyb (B)
ScopeSite
Window/TabCurrent Window

Syndication Feed: RSS/Atom

Opens the syndication feed for the site. If multiple syndication feeds are available lists available feeds. Opens in a new window.

Access Keyf (F)
ScopeSite
Window/TabCurrent Window

Social Media Sites / Networks

Shows an index of all social media sites / networks on which the site owner can be found. This includes for example Facebook and Twitter. Opens in current window.

Access Keys (S)
ScopeSite
Window/TabCurrent Window

Validate

Loads HTML validation service for the current page in a new window.

Hot Tip! Use validator.w3.org to validate your website's HTML.

Access Keyv (V)
ScopePage
Window/TabNew Window

Tests

The following menu specifies access keys which link you to the associated part of this specification. New windows aren't loaded for this test. You can use this to test browser compatibility. Access keys are shown in square brackets provided by CSS:

a[accesskey]:after { content: " [" attr(accesskey) "] "; }

© Copyright John Elliot V et al. 2014.