Keyboard accessibility: Impact on users

Keyboard

Jiayi is blind and uses a screen reader to access digital content. She uses a keyboard with Braille display to navigate and interact with web pages. Jiayi finds it easy to navigate websites which have a logical structure and order.

She can use the keyboard to listen to content and then interact with links, buttons and forms. But, on some websites, links and buttons cannot be accessed without a mouse. This causes confusion for Jiayi, as she cannot see the content and cannot access it via her screen reader. This results in important information being missed and can prevent her from completing important tasks.

Focus visible and bypass blocks

Pat is finding that as they get older, they are less able to focus on small text. They particularly struggle when required to click on small items on screen, such as check boxes and radio buttons.

When Pat was shown how to use a keyboard to navigate, they found this very helpful and it gave them confidence to continue using online systems for important tasks.

By using the TAB and ENTER keys, Pat can move more accurately between items and input the required information without having to identify the interactive elements by sight.

Pat finds it frustrating when the focus indicator is missing or when things are being focused which are not currently visible on the page, such as a mobile navigation menu on a desktop view.

Webpages that have lots of menu items can be particularly difficult for Pat as they have to tab many times to get to the main content on the page. They find it much easier when a skip link has been provided at the top of the page.

Name, role, value

Niko has essential tremor, which affects his hands and arms. This makes it difficult to operate a mouse or keyboard as he cannot control movement or click on things with precision.

Niko uses speech recognition software. He uses voice commands to dictate into text fields and simulate keyboard commands.

Niko can view all the elements on a page by saying ‘click link’ or ‘click button’ as a list and then select the one he wants using his voice. He can also say ‘click’, followed by the visible label on a link or button. This makes it much easier than only using a keyboard.

On some sites, Niko can see a button or link but cannot access it with his voice because the way the element is coded and how it is visually shown are not the same. So when he says ‘click button’ the voice controller cannot see any buttons.

This prevents them from accessing information that other people can access. Niko sometimes leaves a website because it hasn’t been made accessible but if the task is essential, Niko has to find someone to help them, which takes away their independence.

Info and relationships

Jay has always found reading difficult. They have learned some strategies to help them but struggle when there is a lot of text on a page. Jay uses a web extension that lists all the headings and/or links on a webpage. This allows them to find the required information more quickly and easily.

Once they are reading the text, Jay sometimes loses their place and uses the TAB key to find the next or last focus item. This helps them to process the information in manageable chunks.