When I first started my web development (many years ago) it was auditing the web accessibility of departmental websites at the University of Manchester. To this day, i'm always keen to see if websites have adopted basic web accessibility practices.
What is Web Accessibility?
Among other things, Web Accessibility is the degree to which websites are accessible to people using Assistive Technologies such as a screen reader to browse websites. Employing basic web accessibility practices has become part of common web design practices and can bring about a number of benefits.
For more information about Web Accessibility, visit the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative.
What are Access Keys?
One simple way you can improve the web accessibility of your site is to provide access key shortcuts. These are keyboard shortcuts that are assigned to links that users can use to navigate directly to different parts of your site such as the home page or site map.
In common browsers such as Chrome, access keys can be activated using Alt + [access key].
A number of 'standard' access keys are generally used on sites.
S – Skip navigation
1 – Home page
2 – What’s new
3 – Site map
4 – Search
5 – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
6 – Help
7 – Complaints procedure
8 – Terms and conditions
9 – Feedback form
0 – Access key details
Access Keys on Leasing.com
I recently pushed a change to Leasing.com to support the standard access keys and plan on providing a dedicated page listing the access keys as well as another web accessibility aid (skip navigation/to main content).
Ashamedly, I have not yet added access key support on ManchesterDeveloper.com but will do so shortly.
Access Keys on FTSE 100 Home pages
Analysing the FTSE 100 sites tells me that only 15 out of the 100 use access keys on their homepage. Quite a low percentage if you ask me.
The companies that appear to have some support for them are.
- Ashtead Group (H,2,3,4,5,6,7)
- Barclays (1,S,4)
- Diageo (S)
- Hargreaves Landsdown (0)
- InterContinental Hotels Group (S,3,0)
- Lloyds Banking Group (S,1,0,3)
- Next plc (o,h)
- Persimmon plc (t,9,0,3)
- Prudential plc (M)
- Rentokil Initial (S,1,3,0,9)
- Royal Bank of Scotland Group (a,s)
- Spirax-Sarco Engineering (Y,X,1)
- Taylor Wimpey (s,h)
- Tesco (s,3,0)
- United Utilities (s)