Site accessibility issue with “search” fixed

I often say that there’s few “completely accessible” technologies.  Case in point, this site is built using a WordPress template that is advertised as being “accessible”.  However I noticed today that when tabbing (using the tab key on the keyboard) through the site, the “search” feature at the top of each page of the site shows up as the LAST object on the page instead of in the order it appears.  We have ANOTHER search box, in the left-side navigation menu, but the user must first TAB through all the other navigation links first.  I wasn’t happy that a screen-reader user wouldn’t be alerted that there is a search feature until getting that far into the page.

A member of our UMS:IT Web Technologies team helped me implement a fix.  We removed the built-in search box at the top of the page because there was no way to make it show up earlier while tabbing.  To alert the user early to the presence of the other search box we added a “jump link” that only appears when using the keyboard to navigate the page.  Now when visiting any page, the first tab prompts the user to “skip to search” and the second tab press prompts them with “skip to content”.  If neither of these links are used then additional tab presses take the user into the navigation menu.

Thanks Webtech!

Michael Cyr