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Although the “skip to content” link approach works most of the time, Internet Explorer 9 and Chrome aren’t obeying the rules. While the visual focus of the browser shifts to the element being linked to, the input focus stays where it was. For example, if I press tab and then enter on a “skip to content” link, the browser will scroll down to that element so I can read the content. If I then press tab again, the input focus moves to the next focusable element after the “skip to content” link, not to the next link in the content area.

The difference between visual focus and input focus is subtle. Visual focus is most often affected by scrolling. When you navigate to an element on the page using a hash, the browser scrolls that element into view, effectively changing the visual focus so you can read. If you use the up and down arrows, they interact with the scrollbar naturally. However, if you use tab to change focus then you end up scrolling back to the previous spot on the page. That’s because the input focus didn’t change along with the visual focus.


The “skip to content” links can be a great aid to accessibility. Once Internet Explorer and Chrome fix their buggy implementations, the fix mentioned in this post won’t be necessary. As someone who uses only a keyboard on the web, I would greatly appreciate it if more sites used skips links to help with navigation.



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