[Kde-accessibility] making fallback access keys configurable

Olaf Jan Schmidt ojschmidt at kde.org
Fri Mar 3 11:16:35 CET 2006


We are currently repeating a discussion we had on the kde-hci list close 
before the release of KDE 3.5.

I will summarise the outcome:

* The accesskey feature itself cannot be removed or turned into a hidden 
configuration option without breaking the string freeze (the "HTML 4.01 
built-in" would have to be changed to "HTML 4.01 partially supported").

* The fallback keys are a very nice accessibility feature, even if the 
accessibility team did not request it. When we discussed this last, I 
consented to removing it before the 3.5 release if the usability team 
suggests so. They did not have a consensus on it. I don't think it is a good 
idea to silently remove or hide it now in a minor release after users have 
got used to it.

* Requiring the user to press the Ctrl key twice, or to hold down the key for 
a longer time, would clash with the accessibility keyboard settings. This is 
especially true if combined with a timeout. Remember that severely impaired 
users are among those who use accesskeys, and they are typically much slower 
in handling the keyboard.

* To avoid usability problems, it would be best to replace Ctrl with some 
other shortcut, e.g. F8. It is easy to make this change for KDE4, when we 
will address the keyboard navigation in KDE altogether.

* Changing the shortcut within in a minor release or a dot release only makes 
sense if we find a way to make accesskey users aware of the change. The 
usability team found no solution for this when we discussed it last time.

* It seems that the resistance to the accesskeys partly comes from some bugs 
in the implementation that I personally have difficulties reproducing. I also 
don't want to take maintainership for every accessibility-related feature or 
bug in KDE. I am already short of time writing proper accessibility 
guidelines for developers, which makes more sense long-term than trying to 
fix accessibility problems myself while other developers open new ones all 
the time.


Olaf Jan Schmidt, KDE Accessibility co-maintainer, open standards 
accessibility networker, Protestant theology student and webmaster of 
http://accessibility.kde.org/ and http://www.amen-online.de/

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