This is an archived snapshot of W3C's public bugzilla bug tracker, decommissioned in April 2019. Please see the home page for more details.

Bug 11473 - Clarify proper tabindex usage
Summary: Clarify proper tabindex usage
Alias: None
Product: HTML WG
Classification: Unclassified
Component: LC1 HTML5 spec (show other bugs)
Version: unspecified
Hardware: PC Windows NT
: P2 normal
Target Milestone: ---
Assignee: Ian 'Hixie' Hickson
QA Contact: HTML WG Bugzilla archive list
URL: a11y
Depends on:
Reported: 2010-12-05 09:52 UTC by Peter Winnberg
Modified: 2011-08-04 05:00 UTC (History)
8 users (show)

See Also:


Description Peter Winnberg 2010-12-05 09:52:58 UTC
Using the tabindex attribute can be problematic as shown below. Because of this I suggest that advice on how to use it properly is added to the specification or that the tabindex attribute is marked as deprecated.

Take this example, a page with 2 navigation lists and then the main content of the page (in that order in the source). The first list has a fixed width and is floated left. The second list also has a fixed width but it floated right. This gives us a page with one navigation list in the left column, the main content in the middle column, and another navigation list in the right column.

Now if I use the keyboard to "tab" through this page it would go from the left column, then to the right column, and then to the middle column. If I wanted it to go in this order, left, middle, and then right column then this could be done using the tabindex attribute. However this is where it gets problematic because using the tabindex to do this would also change the "tab order" when the page is viewed with a different style sheet or without one.

Without tabindex: 

Tabindex is used to get left, middle, and then right "tab order":

Also, using a negative value on tabindex can make the content inaccessible for anyone that is using an input device that is affected by sequential focus navigation.
Comment 1 Peter Winnberg 2010-12-05 12:40:45 UTC
This article suggests that the tabindex attribute can, and should, be used as a way to skip past navigation links:

11.1 Keyboard access to forms in the WCAG 1.0:
Comment 2 Ian 'Hixie' Hickson 2011-01-11 00:44:02 UTC
I'm not sure what you're suggesting should change. Note that the spec doesn't require that the tab order goes in the tree order  if browsers tab in tree order rather than presentation order, I would recommend filing a bug with the browsers, suggesting that they instead tab in the presentation order.
Comment 3 Ian 'Hixie' Hickson 2011-02-16 09:45:34 UTC
EDITOR'S RESPONSE: This is an Editor's Response to your comment. If you are satisfied with this response, please change the state of this bug to CLOSED. If you have additional information and would like the editor to reconsider, please reopen this bug. If you would like to escalate the issue to the full HTML Working Group, please add the TrackerRequest keyword to this bug, and suggest title and text for the tracker issue; or you may create a tracker issue yourself, if you are able to do so. For more details, see this document:

Status: Did Not Understand Request
Change Description: no spec change
Rationale: see comment 2.
Comment 4 Michael[tm] Smith 2011-08-04 05:00:57 UTC
mass-moved component to LC1