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Understanding form accessibility issues


From:

Web Accessibility Principles

with Zoe Gillenwater

Video: Understanding form accessibility issues

>> Web page forms are a common and vital source of interaction between your users and your site. What may look like a very easy to understand and simple form to use to a sighted user can be quite challenge to use for some people with disabilities if certain features aren't set in the HTML. People with mobility impairments might find it impossible or difficult to set the cursor in a text field and a blind person might not know what the fields of the form are for. One of the things that makes form elements accessible to the blind and visually impaired is labeling the form elements.
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  1. 2m 0s
    1. Welcome
      1m 3s
    2. Using the exercise files
      57s
  2. 33m 15s
    1. What does accessibility mean?
      5m 51s
    2. How does accessibility help your users?
      3m 30s
    3. Experiencing a website via a screen reader
      5m 46s
    4. How does accessibility help you and your clients?
      3m 9s
    5. Overview of Section 508 standards
      5m 51s
    6. Overview of WCAG standards
      6m 4s
    7. Understanding consistency and semantic markup
      3m 4s
  3. 54m 30s
    1. Understanding screen readers and accessibility tools
      6m 12s
    2. Getting accessible browsers
      5m 40s
    3. Customizing Firefox for accessibility testing
      5m 53s
    4. Using custom accessibility toolbars
      5m 28s
    5. Using Fangs and the Color Contrast Analyzer
      5m 30s
    6. Accessibility tools to bookmark
      5m 53s
    7. Using automated accessibility checking tools
      4m 57s
    8. Setting up the JAWS screen reader on Windows
      6m 42s
    9. Using the VoiceOver screen reader on Mac OS X
      5m 52s
    10. Setting Dreamweaver accessibility preferences
      2m 23s
  4. 26m 10s
    1. Avoiding tables for layout
      3m 30s
    2. Using CSS for layout
      2m 40s
    3. Creating a fixed-width layout
      5m 51s
    4. Creating an elastic layout
      3m 50s
    5. Creating a liquid layout
      3m 4s
    6. Customizing a liquid layout
      7m 15s
  5. 1h 6m
    1. Specifying the language
      3m 42s
    2. Setting page titles
      2m 16s
    3. Setting headings and paragraphs
      9m 55s
    4. Styling headings
      9m 56s
    5. Hiding section headings from sighted users
      6m 41s
    6. Styling text for readability
      6m 40s
    7. Ensuring proper color contrast
      6m 36s
    8. Creating text emphasis
      4m 29s
    9. Indicating quotations
      4m 28s
    10. Creating basic lists
      4m 16s
    11. Styling lists
      7m 15s
  6. 1h 15m
    1. Using lists for navigation
      6m 45s
    2. Creating a horizontal navigation bar
      13m 25s
    3. Creating a vertical navigation bar
      11m 44s
    4. Adding skip navigation links
      11m 59s
    5. Hiding skip navigation links
      6m 16s
    6. Proper link text and title attributes
      6m 10s
    7. Opening new windows
      4m 27s
    8. Accessibility limitations of fly-out menus
      6m 30s
    9. Creating an accessible fly-out menu
      8m 38s
  7. 27m 54s
    1. Proper ALT text for navigation images
      4m 57s
    2. Proper ALT text for decorative images
      5m 19s
    3. Adding ALT text to an existing site
      6m 8s
    4. Adding ALT text to image maps
      5m 58s
    5. Describing complex graphics
      5m 32s
  8. 34m 0s
    1. Using tables for data
      3m 0s
    2. Creating header cells
      4m 4s
    3. Adding table captions and summaries
      9m 9s
    4. Styling tables
      5m 19s
    5. Applying header cells to complex tables
      6m 52s
    6. Adding id and headers attributes
      5m 36s
  9. 42m 0s
    1. Understanding form accessibility issues
      3m 4s
    2. Labeling form fields
      6m 9s
    3. Adding fieldsets and legends
      4m 42s
    4. Moving forms out of tables
      3m 44s
    5. Cleaning up a form's appearance
      4m 53s
    6. Aligning labels and fields using CSS
      9m 39s
    7. Indicating required fields
      6m 11s
    8. Dealing with CAPTCHA
      3m 38s
  10. 7m 29s
    1. The Text-Only technique
      3m 21s
    2. The Access Keys technique
      2m 35s
    3. The Tab Index technique
      1m 33s
  11. 17s
    1. Goodbye
      17s

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Watch the Online Video Course Web Accessibility Principles
6h 10m Appropriate for all Oct 16, 2007

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Accessibility on the web has been an issue for over a decade, and it remains a crucial--but often overlooked--element of web design. Instructor Zoe Gillenwater explains the concept of accessibility as it applies to the web, and describes how it affects the audience. She also covers how to set up accessibility testing, and how to apply accessibility principles to new and existing sites using standards-compliant markup and CSS. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.

Topics include:
  • Understanding Flex programming languages
Subject:
Web
Author:
Zoe Gillenwater

Understanding form accessibility issues

>> Web page forms are a common and vital source of interaction between your users and your site. What may look like a very easy to understand and simple form to use to a sighted user can be quite challenge to use for some people with disabilities if certain features aren't set in the HTML. People with mobility impairments might find it impossible or difficult to set the cursor in a text field and a blind person might not know what the fields of the form are for. One of the things that makes form elements accessible to the blind and visually impaired is labeling the form elements.

Most forms already have labels written beside the fields, but the problem is that if there's nothing in the HTML to associate that piece of text with the adjacent field, then it's just another piece of text and the screen reader cannot know what to tell the user to fill in when it comes to a particular field. If you're following along with the exercise files, open the file departments.html in a browser. It's located in the 08_01 folder of the chapter eight exercise files. This page contains a simple form.

It's very easy for sighted users to know what to fill in each of these fields. The proximity of these text labels makes a visual connection clear, but there's nothing in the HTML to make that explicit. Screen readers will often guess what the label for a field is. But what if they guess wrong? The variety of placements of labels makes that quite possible. You'll see that the first three fields of this form have the label placed off to the left of the field, name, email and phone.

Then we have a question above two radio buttons and then their labels are placed off to the right. Finally another label placed to the left. And then a label placed above the field. So without something in the HTML to tell a screen reader what piece of text relates to what field, it's going to have a very hard time helping its users to fill out the form correctly. Also, radio buttons such as these, as well as checkboxes can be very hard to select for people who do not have fine motor control.

This form could be fixed quite easily by using the label element in HTML. It should be wrapped around every piece of text that describes the purpose of an adjacent form control. Every form control should have a label. And a label can only correspond with one form control. The only form controls that don't need labels are submit buttons and submit images, as their descriptive text is contained in their value and alt attributes, respectively. Labeling form elements is essential to ensure that even a person who cannot see the form can determine what each text field, checkbox, radio button and other form elements are for.

In addition, a label element essentially expands the clickable area of a field. If a radio button or checkbox has a label beside it, you can click anywhere in the label to select that button or checkbox. Next we'll look at how to add labels to forms, both existing ones that you need to retrofit and new ones that you're building from scratch.

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