What is Keyboard Navigation?
Keyboard Navigation is a vital component of web accessibility that allows users to navigate a website using their keyboard alone. This navigation method is a lifeline for users who have mobility impairments or visual impairments, or who prefer using a keyboard over a mouse for other reasons.
Why is Keyboard Navigation Important?
In addition to providing an alternative navigation method for those who cannot use a mouse, keyboard navigation is crucial for the following reasons:
- It enhances user experience: Keyboard navigation makes it easier for all users, including those without disabilities, to navigate a website. It can be faster and more efficient, especially for power users.
- It ensures accessibility: In many cases, it is the only way for users with certain disabilities to navigate a website. Without keyboard navigation, these users would be unable to use your site.
- It’s a legal requirement: Web accessibility, including keyboard navigation, is a legal requirement under various laws and standards worldwide, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
How to Implement Keyboard Navigation?
Here are some key strategies to implement effective keyboard navigation on your website:
Logical Tab Order
The tab order of a website should be logical and intuitive. Generally, this means following the visual flow of the page: left to right, top to bottom.
Visible Focus Indicators
When users navigate your site using the keyboard, they should be able to tell at a glance which element is currently focused. This can be accomplished by using CSS to style the :focus pseudo-class.
Skip links are hidden navigation links that become visible when focused. They allow keyboard users to skip directly to different sections of the page, bypassing other content.
Form controls should be accessible to keyboard users. This means using proper HTML elements for controls and providing labels for all form fields.
Ensure that keyboard users don’t get stuck in any part of your site. They should be able to navigate forward and backward through all interactive elements.
By keeping these strategies in mind, you can ensure that your website is accessible to all users, regardless of how they choose to navigate.