Core Skills Activity #6: Keyboard Accessibility

Mark Newhouse

ESPN dot com

Launched and once it finished loading, a pop-up came to the front. Command-w (can't use the mouse :) promptly got rid of that (surfing via IE5 on a Mac).

Tabbing through the links kept cycling through the links at the very top of the page (like,, etc.).

Hitting the space bar, which usually is the equivalent of the page down key, sometimes sent me to a (seemingly) random page. In this case it was the TV listings. Tabbing through the links there seemed to work as expected, but caused the page to jump around a bit until we got to the actual TV listings.


A look at the source revealed that I had gotten trapped in a flash .swf file. I was able to use the keyboard to move from link to link within the swf, and most of the links highlighted as I tabbed to them. However there was no other feedback - like showing the link's destination in the bottom of the browser window.

The Page up and Page Down keys, as well as the arrow keys usually work as expected, but there is still no access to the links outside of the flash file.

Once I "cheated" and used the mouse to get out of the flash file, I was able to navigate fairly easily via the mouse. The size of the text made it difficult to follow the jumping outline as I tabbed through the links, as it was unpredictable as to where the next link would be in the tab order.

In Conclusion...

It was good to see that the Flash file was keyboard accessible, but there needs to be a way to get out of that file. On a related note, I do know that the Disability Resources computer lab on our university campus has software that lets you use the arrow keys to move the cursor on screen, and that would enable the user to get out of the Flash file "trap."