I'm tasked with finding accessibility concerns on a webpage. The site has a main menu at the top of the page:

  • When the user's screen is wide, all top level menu items are shown in a single row. When the user hovers over the menu items a dropdown shows level 2 items.
  • When the user's screen is smaller the menu is collapsed into a "hamburger menu" that the user can fold out. All levels of the menu can be reached by expanding parts of it.

This, I believe, is a quite common pattern for menus these days.

Now to my question:

The main menu cannot be operated using only the keyboard when it is in it's collapsed state, that is when the user has a small screen. Is this an issue?

My first reaction was that this is a serious issue. However, then I realized that this state of the menu will only be shown on mobile devices (right?) since it is only shown when the user has a small screen. Do users of mobile devices ever navigate using a keyboard? On smartphones that's not really an option is it? But maybe users with for example vision impairments connect some peripheral similiar to a keyboard to the smartphone?

I'd be very thankful for any information on this subject. Also links to good resources would be appreciated! :)

2 Answers 2


It is very much a serious issue. I can use my iphone or ipad with a bluetooth refreshable braille device. It's essentially using a mobile device with a keyboard. I can navigate by tabbing through menus just like you would with a standard keyboard. By ignoring this issue, you would be banning me from using your website.

Even if that weren't an issue, what if a sighted user had a small monitor and they wanted to dock their browser to one side of the monitor and have another window docked to the other side so that they're side by side. That might create a sufficiently small window that they get the hamburger menu but would no longer be able to use the menu with the keyboard.

  • I was hoping for an answer from someone with real world experience. Thank you! :)
    – haagel
    Oct 12, 2016 at 8:58
  • i don't understand the comment to my answer. "real world experience"? i'm not a theoretical accessibility specialist. i actually work on real websites in the real world. not sure if that helps. another issue to consider is low vision users that magnify the font. if you bump the font up by 100% or 150% (wcag requires 200%, 1.4.4, w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/visual-audio-contrast-scale.html), you often hit a breakpoint in responsive web design and get the hamburger menu, but you're still on the desktop and have a need for the keyboard. May 28, 2018 at 21:38

You are mostly concerned about visually impaired users who are using some assistive software to use internet, right? My first hunch was that it is not very serious problem, but then I read this: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2014/05/mobile-accessibility-why-care-what-can-you-do/

A July 2013 survey (PDF) of adults with disabilities done by the Wireless Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center found that 91% of people with disabilities use a “wireless device such as a cell phone or tablet.” Among these users, screen reader usage is common, even on mobile devices.

I would say that since you have specifically been tasked to find accessibility concerns, this is definitely something you should bring up. You could also benchmark how big companies with lots of resources have solved this problem and include this information in your report.


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