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Don’t Skip Providing a Great Experience to All Users 

Posted May 19, 2021


Posted May 19, 2021

Two illustrations showing an unsuccessful path with barriers and a successful path with zero barriers.
Two illustrations showing an unsuccessful path with barriers and a successful path with zero barriers.

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Many websites use Skip to Main Content links to make the online experience more efficient for users with disabilities. But all too often, skip navigation links are either left out or poorly implemented. This causes frustration and abandoned journeys. Find out how AudioEye experts resolve this common issue and help enable clear and orderly navigation for users of all abilities.

Image a black man frustratingly holding his head in his hands while looking at a laptop

The Frustrations of Keyboard-only Web Navigation 

Websites typically provide a mixture of primary and secondary navigation links on each page, often presenting the primary links across the top of the page and the secondary links down one side. For web visitors without visual disabilities who can use a mouse, this familiar structure makes it easy to find the content they want. Usually, all the pages follow essentially the same structure of primary and secondary links, with graphical elements and ads, and fully sighted users can quickly and intuitively read and interact with the site. 

However, for keyboard-only users, navigating to the desired content may require dozens of taps on the tab key, repeatedly cycling through the same blocks of content on every page. Some of these users may have switches rather than keyboards or may be using other assistive technologies that generate key presses at a relatively low speed. In both cases, tabbing through repeated content becomes an even slower and more frustrating experience — and could even be physically painful. What’s more, users with visual disabilities may need to do all of this without any optical clues about the tab order, and those using screen readers may face having to hear the same heading graphics and links spoken on every page. 

How WCAG Addresses the Issue 

The World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) address this navigation concern under section 2.4.1 “Bypass Blocks”, starting with techniques for skipping directly from the top of each page to the main content area. 

At AudioEye, our team of accessibility experts very often discover websites that either omit these skip navigation links or apply them incorrectly. Typically, an incorrect implementation means either that the skip links are not visible when receiving focus or they do not drive to the main content when the end user activates them. 

Illustration of a web browser with an AudioEye toolbar open that shows the option to skip to main content

Helping Users Quickly Skip to the Main Content 

AudioEye’s hybrid approach to digital accessibility — blending automated remediation with expert human testing and correction — gives us a unique advantage in finding and fixing these problems. You can automatically detect a missing Skip to Main Content link, but it requires human expertise to understand when such a skip navigation link is working incorrectly.  

The fix is simple enough: At AudioEye, whenever we find an inaccessible Skip to Main Content link, or if we can’t find one at all, we manually set up a working link. However, it’s hard to even know you have this problem on your website if you rely entirely on automated accessibility testing.  

Reach out to AudioEye today to learn more about how our unique combination of automated and expert human testing and remediation helps our clients meet the needs of all web users. 

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