Accesskeys, FireFox, sharkware

It appears that an group from the Computer Sciences dept at the University of Texas have taken The Jaws screen reader and written a script needed for the screen reader to work with Firefox.

The group known as Sharkware Development have released version 4 final which can be downloaded here

The reason that I mention Accesskeys in the title of the post, is that as laudable as this effort is, and it is very much to be welcomed that users with disabilities now have a choice of browser to use , especially one that is standards compliant and more secure than our friend IE6, is that the group have apparently assigned a number of hotkeys to the programme to allow the navigation through the heading tags of a page . Sadly they have used alt+1 through to six for this which means that anyone like myself that is using the UK Gov prescribed accesskey numbers rather than letters ( and which seemed the most sensible solution given potential conflicts with the letter system) had maybe better rethink these assignments in case of conflicts with Jaws for Firefox.

Problem is there is not a lot of choice left and this does seem to be one more nail in the coffin for the accesskey attribute, which has had a checkered history, and is now all but dead and buried. We could do with the full implementation of the new ‘Access’ attribute post haste which allows for the creation of Access points that the user can assign their own keystrokes to.

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