Keyboard navigation problems in IE and Safari

In Keyboard Navigation and Internet Explorer, Gez Lemon takes a closer look at Internet Explorer’s problems with in-page navigation and suggests possible solutions. The discussion in the comments to the article provides some answers and alternative solutions.

While reading the article I found the problem familiar. Then it occurred to me that Safari has similar issues with keyboard navigation. After following an internal link, pressing the tab key makes Safari continue navigating from the link you just followed. The obvious action would be to move focus to the first link after the target of the internal link.

You can try it right here on this site. Press the tab key until “Skip to main content” is displayed (the first link on the page). Press the Return key to jump to the main content. Then press the tab key. Instead of moving focus to the first link in the main content area, Safari moves it to the next link after “Skip to main content”, which is “Skip to secondary content (sidebar)”.

Pretty unexpected and not very useful, wouldn’t you say? Extremely confusing when you try navigating the page with VoiceOver, the built-in screen reader in Mac OS X.

I tested changing the link target to a named anchor instead of an element id, thinking that may work better. Nope. Same behaviour.

Firefox and other browsers based on Gecko get it right, as does Opera.

What do you think? Is Safari somehow doing the right thing or should I send Apple a bug report?

Posted on September 17, 2005 in Browsers, Accessibility, Browsers