1.4 Adhere to the standard keyboard access methods

Keyboard access methods are keys or key combinations that can be used to access the functions and elements of the application, such as windows, commands, menus and controls, without using a pointing device. All operating systems have standard keyboard methods for navigating to and activating interface and application objects and standard keyboard shortcuts (accelerator key combinations) for directly activating common functions.

For example, in Windows, repeatedly pressing Tab moves the focus from one object to another, then pressing Spacebar or Enter activates the object that has focus. Pressing Ctrl+C is a shortcut for Cut and pressing Ctrl+V is a shortcut for Paste.

Users should be able to use all the standard keyboard navigation, activation and shortcuts defined for the operating system.

Similar guidelines are:

  • 1.5 Do not require use of a pointing device
  • 1.10 Ensure a logical tab order for controls, input fields and other objects
  • 2.3 Adhere to the operating system user interface guidelines
A person who is physically unable to use a mouse but able to use a keyboard

Allow keyboard only access
Many people use a keyboard but cannot use a pointing device.


Some users can interact with a computer using a keyboard or keyboard emulator but cannot use a pointing device such as a mouse. To be able to learn and efficiently use an application, these users rely on the standard keyboard access methods that are provided by the operating system to be used by all applications. If these standard methods are not available, users will have to learn new methods which may take a long time and lead to frequent errors.

Directions and Techniques

Refer to the official operating system user interface style guide

Most operating systems and user interface environments have published standards for keyboard access.
Microsoft Windows Keyboard Guides.
Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines.
Motif and CDE 2.1 Style Guide.
KDE User Interface Guidelines.
Keyboard Navigation for Gtk+2.0 Draft.
Sun Java Look and Feel Design Guidelines.

How you could check for this:

There are no specific test methods recommended for this guideline.