Misguided accessibility: access keys
In the early days of WCAG 1.0, access keys within web pages were seen as a staple of accessibility best practices: assigning a letter or number which could be pressed alongside an accelerator key (such as Alt) to enable users to instantly activate a link or form field. In reality, they are a poor accessibility practice that gets in the way of users.
For people using computers, programs are full of access keys, such as Control + S for the Save command, or Alt + F to activate the File menu. For people using screen-reading software such as NVDA or JAWS, there are a lot more features activated by access keys, such as changing the reading mode or context. The access keys set on a web page may override screen-reading access keys and combinations built into the web browser. For example, Alt + F may activate the "Find" form field on the web page, instead of the File menu within the browser. Whether the built-in access keys are overridden depends on the browser.
For people who are fully sighted, this can have the effect of making the browser appear to malfunction (Alt + F no longer has the desired outcome of activating the File menu), while for people using screen-reading software, the web page (and browser) can become completely unusable because the screen-reading tools can no longer be activated with keyboard combinations.
These days, accessibility experts recommend strongly against the use of access keys, instead putting focus on accessibility enhancers such as "skip-to" links and clear navigation and layout, fully tested with assistive technologies like screen-readers.
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