(Not sure what accesskeys are? Here is an ALA post about them)

If you've ever implemented accesskeys on a web app, do you know if they got used (outside of accessibility concerns)? There seem to be very few sites that use the ALT+[key] pattern and publicize them to users, so it doesn't seem to have caught on. I can't find any utilisation statistics.

My sample scenario is: you have a web app that a busy professional might use for 1-2 hours a day, filling in forms. They are going to become intermediate / power users fairly quickly. Accesskeys may speed up their flow for certain tasks. We'd point out which buttons/functions have an accesskey through styling (underlining the first letter, etc), and through help & FAQs. Given this scenario, do you think users would use the accesskeys, or is it just too unusual / unnatural for them?

They are easy enough to implement, but are there any reasons NOT to allow accesskeys?

PS I know Twitter and Google have advanced accesskey support, but again - I don't know if it gets used, even by power users.


This WebAIM article on keyboard accessibility discusses accesskeys. In summary, some of the issues with accesskeys include:

  • Shortcuts are not all the same, or in some cases even similar, across browsers
  • Hard to show users accesskeys are available
  • Users' own prefs, browser, or assistive technology might conflict with your accesskeys
  • No standard set of accesskeys, though there are some recommendations

A further article, Using Accesskeys - Is it worth it?, discusses the practicality of accesskeys, addressing accessibility concerns in particular:

Disappointingly, our research discovered that all but 3 keys were previously "claimed" by one technology or the other...

implementation brings with it the possibility that it either will not be available to all users, or that the keystroke combination encoded within the web page may conflict with a reserved keystroke combination in an adaptive technology or future user agent.

I have considered implementing accesskeys, but never have, as I've always had more pressing usability and accessibility issues to work on.

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