Students with visual or physical disabilities may use keyboard shortcuts instead of a mouse to operate a computer or navigate the web.
For example, if a student wants to print a document in MS Word, he/she can use the mouse to navigate to the File menu and select Print. However, it is also possible to use the keyboard to print a document by pressing the Control key and the P key at the same time. Both the keyboard action and the menu selection will open the printing dialog box.
We gave this task a medium rating for both impact and effort. The use of a mouse may be unfeasible for students with certain types of disabilities. If no keyboard substitutes were available, such students would be prevented from participating in a course. However, most, although not all, mouse actions do have substitutable keyboard actions.
This task requires a moderate level of effort because effective use of web pages and software applications requires a great deal of navigability. A 30-minute computer session can consist of both a high volume and a wide variety of mouse and keyboard maneuvers. It would be challenging to ensure, in advance, that all possible mouse actions could be replaced by corresponding keyboard actions.
As an example of how to navigate a web page with your keyboard, try navigating this page without using your mouse. To move forward from one hyperlink to the next, use the Tab key. To move backward, press the Tab key and the Shift key at the same time. As you move forward and back, notice the web address that appears in your browser’s status bar. (In Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Chrome, the status bar is in the lower left corner of your computer screen.) The information shown in the status bar tells you the web address that corresponds to the link on which your cursor is currently resting. For instance, when your cursor is pointing to the Accessibility 101 link on the upper right portion of this page, the status bar will display the address, https://teaching.pitt.edu/accessibility/accessibility-101/.
- To learn more about keyboard substitutes for mouse navigation, read Keyboard-Only Navigation for Improved Accessibility, published by the Nielsen Norman Group.
- You can also review the pages published by WebAIM on Keyboard Accessibility.