Creating Accessible “Quick Link” Menus

As many of you are aware, it is rather difficult to create an accessible “quick link” menu (sometimes also called “jump menus”) because most of them require javascript.

For those of you that don’t know what a quick link menu is, it’s generally a dropdown menu, made from a typical form “select” element. Then, when a user chooses one of the options within that select element, the page automatically redirects to the location associated with that option.

For instance, in the top corner of all HTMLCenter pages, there is a quick link menu called “Top Links”.

For a lot of users, these types of menus are extremely useful. Designers generally use quick link menus for one of two purposes: a) to provide a quick, easily locatable list of the top content on their Web site or b) to provide a list of the headers on a long page, allowing the users to quickly “jump” to the appropriate section of the page.

The problem, though, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, is that they all require javascript in order to work properly. That’s great for the users that have javascript enabled, but it really can cause problems for those that don’t have javascript.

I have come up with a solution to that problem, though. With the solution described below, the “quick link” menu is initially written as an unordered list. Then, I use javascript to convert it to a standard “jump menu”. That way, if the user doesn’t have javascript within his/her browser, they get a nicely formatted unordered list of the links instead.