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Web checkpoint 8

Provide methods for skipping over navigation links to get to main content of page.



Rationale

When a navigation bar appears at the top of a page or down the left side of the page, users who are reading the page with speech synthesis must listen to all links across the top and down the left side before getting to the main content. This occurs for each page visited on the site when consistent layouts are used. However, sighted users can ignore the links and go directly to the main content. The purpose of this checkpoint is to remedy this inequity. The goal is to enable users to quickly bypass all the groups of links, such as navigation bars and tables of contents, to get to the main starting portions of the page.


Techniques for Text-only pages

The following techniques and examples support Checkpoint 8 from the IBM Web Accessibility Checklist.

One of the following techniques is the minimum required to meet this checkpoint:

Image link to the main Content

An effective technique is to have a link at the top of the page attached to an unimportant image. The target of the image link is the beginning of the page's main content. This technique is effectively used at the IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center site.

A person using speech synthesis can activate the link and skip to the main content of the page. The alternative text for the image is skip to main content, which is displayed in graphical browsers when the user moves the mouse over the image. For example:

<a href="#navskip"><img src="blank.gif" alt="skip to main content"></a>
...
<a name="navskip"></a><h2> The main content...</h2>

Separate frame with main content

A link to the main content is not necessary if FRAMES are used to separate the navigation elements from the main content. The FRAME needs to have a title that indicates it contains the main contents so that the user could navigate quickly to it. See the IBM Web Accessibility: Frames for more information on making FRAMES meet the accessibility standards.

One of the techniques above is required; the following techniques are recommended to enhance accessibility:

Image Maps Skips

If navigation links are marked up in client-side image maps with alternative text on the image map areas, some screen readers will automatically skip the individual areas. Of course, the user can choose to stop and step through all of the individual map areas.

Heading Skips

Assistive technologies, like screen readers, use heading elements (such as h2 and h3) to navigate through a page. If the main content begins with a heading, then the user can navigate, or jump, directly to the main content.

Location of Anchor Tag

On pages that use breadcrumb navigation, the target of a skip to navigation link should be placed after any breadcrumb navigation on the page. The helps screen reader users to avoid listening to the breadcrumb navigation on every page.


Testing

Test the Web site to ensure that it complies with accessibility requirements.

Tools

You will need to install the following tools to test this checkpoint:

Techniques

The following technique is required to verify this checkpoint:

Testing
  Action Result
1 If the Web site does not use frames, view the page with a screen reader. Test the text or image link that skips to the main content of the page. Pass:
Fail:
1 If the Web site uses frames, view the page with a screen reader. Verify that the screen reader announces the frame titles, and that the frame titles are meaningful for navigation. Pass:
Fail:



Additional Techniques

In addition to the required tests, these techniques can be used to verify other techniques to skip navigation.

For more information on these techniques, see Additional techniques for testing Web accessibility.

®2001, 2008 IBM Corporation

Last updated January 17, 2008.