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RE: [#1311] Should we permit multiple labels for one form control?

From: Sailesh Panchang <spanchang02@yahoo.com>
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2004 07:23:49 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <20041223152349.69874.qmail@web80908.mail.scd.yahoo.com>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org, sailesh.panchang@deque.com

Hello All,


For a moment I tried to step back and consider why one might want to associate more than one label with a particular input control. An input box for the first name    can be called “First Name” and I would not also like to call it Last Name at the same time. If this data is going into a database, like a relational table, having two field labels for the same input data will confuse the heck out of the database I think. 

I can think of several controls being associated with one label like in a form in which one column has all first names and the next has all last names, etc. and each row in the table is a   separate record. But not the other way around.

 Please help me think of a situation where an input control might need multiple labels. The example of required field is not appropriate. That is advisory or instructional text that is really not a label. Nor do I concur with Yvette’s example. “Use current version / old version” as label for radio buttons do not explain  the complete purpose of the buttons. The label for the button should contain what the adjoining alt has with the qualifier new or old version,  and the alt should be null. This is akin to an image within an anchor. That will be consistent with the recommendation that the alt for an image should be null if it is contained within an anchor and the anchor has linked text.[1] 


I am against an improvisation- using the label to convey content that is not really a label.  Multiple names for the dame data element would also confuse a user. An org. will normally use the same label for a data element or form input data across applications. A vendor ID will be called Vendor ID in a purchase order application as well as in an accounts payable application. 

I find the HTML specs confusing when it says:

“More than one LABEL may be associated with the same control by creating multiple references via the for attribute”, after saying,

“Each LABEL element is associated with exactly one form control.  “


[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10-HTML-TECHS/#link-text-images


Sailesh Panchang 

Senior Accessibility Engineer,

Deque Systems


Tel 703-225-0380 ext 105


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Received on Thursday, 23 December 2004 15:24:21 UTC

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