Keyboard Testing Quick Reference

Keyboard operability -- being able to navigate and operate all the functions of a web page or application using only keyboard commands -- is an essential principle of accessibility. It is necessary for users with physical disabilities who cannot use a mouse, and it is also required for people who are blind who cannot see the mouse pointer on the screen.

Luckily, testing for keyboard operability is easy. It does not require any special technology or skill, just awareness of a few standard keyboard commands.

The Basics

Command Function
Tab Move to the next focusable element, such as a link or form field. To be accessible, ALL interactive elements must receive focus.
Shift + Tab Move backwards to the previous focusable element.
Ctrl + Home Move to the first focusable element on a page.
Ctrl + End Move to the last focusable element on the page.

Form Fields

Command Function
Enter Click a link
Spacebar Click a button (Enter may also work, but can sometimes have unexpected effects.)
Spacebar Check checkbox or radio button
Up/Down Arrow Move through options in a dropdown list, list box, or list of radio buttons, selecting them as you go.
Alt + Down Arrow Open a dropdown list to see and move through all the options before selecting them.

More

The above commands will work for all standard web interface elements, however, developers are starting to use custom elements such as tab panels, tree views, grids, and more. For details on how custom elements work with keyboard commands, see: