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RE: Form and label element association

From: lisa seeman <seeman@netvision.net.il>
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2003 16:57:10 +0200
To: "'John M Slatin'" <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>, "'Jens Meiert'" <jens.meiert@erde3.com>, "'W3C WAI'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <015301c3bf2d$e75ab1a0$ad00000a@patirsrv.patir.com>

What if the place holding text for the text box read "enter search text

Would that do it?

All the best
Lisa Seeman
Visit us at the UB Access website
UB Access - Moving internet accessibility

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of John M Slatin
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 4:01 PM
To: Jens Meiert; W3C WAI
Subject: RE: Form and label element association

WebXACT is a bit restrictive, in my view, in its insistence on use of
the <label> element in all cases.  In the case of the search form you
describe, I think it would be legitimate to use the title attribute on
the <input> element to prompt the user *before* she or he tabs to the
Search button.  For example:

<input type="text" size="30" title="Enter a word or phrase to search
for"> <input type="submit" value="Search">

People who use screen readers would hear the following:
Enter a word or phrase to search for edit (JAWS inserts the word "edit"
to signal the presence of a text input) Search button press spacebar to
activate (JAWS adds the phrase about pressing the spacebar)

Without the title attribute, someone using a screen reader would hear
the following: Edit 
Then, when they press tab to move on, they would hear:
Search button press spacebar to activate

In other words, they wouldn't be *certain* they were in a search field
until they had tabbed past the field to the button.  This may seem like
a small thing, but this kind of thing adds up to quite a few extra
keystrokes in the course of a day's work, and it's very frustrating to
have to go back and forth all the time.  The title attribute gives you a
way to keep your screen visually clean while providing auditory
information that some users depend on.


"Good design is accessible design." 
Please note our new name and URL!
John Slatin, Ph.D.
Director, Accessibility Institute
University of Texas at Austin
FAC 248C
1 University Station G9600
Austin, TX 78712
ph 512-495-4288, f 512-495-4524
email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu
web http://www.utexas.edu/research/accessibility/


-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of Jens Meiert
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 6:12 am
Subject: Form and label element association

Maybe this is rather an issue using Watchfire WebXACT [1], but checking
WCAG conformance it throws an error when using no label elements in
forms: 'Explicitly associate form controls and their labels with the
LABEL element.'

In this case, I simply offer a search feature on my site [2] by using a
text field and a button, which definitely is the best and recommended
way (see e.g. [3] or perform additional tests), offering simplicity as
well as usability. Thus, if I'd be forced to label these elements, I'm
also forced to reduce my site's usability and have to irritate users by
e.g. placing 'search' twice (for example by using 'search' as a text
label for the text field and to label the button this way, too), what
I'm not willing to do.

Since I'm not sure if the WCAG 2.0 Techniques (WD) softens this issue by
saying 'Using the LABEL element, associate form elements with their
labels' [4], I'm not sure if this is a critical point, either.
Consequently, I'll claim conformance in this point. -- I'm sorry if this
is really an already solved problem (btw, I partially find the WCAG
document structure irritating since it seems impossible to switch
between WCAG, UAAG, Techniques and so on), but I couldn't determine the
current handling that fast.

All the best,

[1] http://webxact2.watchfire.com/
[2] http://meiert.com/
[3] http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20031110.html (#8)
[2] http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WCAG20/WD-HTMLTECHS-CHECKLIST-20020324.html

Jens Meiert
Interface Architect

Received on Wednesday, 10 December 2003 09:57:24 UTC

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