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Form labeling and user agent support

Date: Wed, 02 May 2001 12:32:00 -0500
Message-Id: <saeffe7b.071@EEOC.GOV>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Question on user agent support -

We're about to post a publications order form, allowing users to select from roughly 80 publications. The form as it exists right now uses checkboxes positioned to the left of the publication title (in a two-column table). Each publication title is labeled appropriately. Example:

   <td><input type="checkbox" name="publications" value="pub123" id="123"></td>
   <td><label for="123">Sample publication</label></td>

However, according to checkpoint 10.2:

"Until user agents support explicit associations between labels and form controls, for all form controls with implicitly associated labels, ensure that the label is properly positioned."

Which, of course, would require that the label precede the control on the same line, or on the preceding line, instead of the checkbox preceding the label, as it is in our draft form. This makes perfect sense to me - why present someone with a checkbox before telling them what it's for? However, a colleague prefers the layout of the draft form as it is - it's visually closer to most paper-based or web-based forms she's familiar with.

So the question is, what about that "Until user agents support ..."? Do user agents (by which I specifically mean "typical" browser and screen reader combinations):

a - currently provide enough support for form labels to handle this properly as it currently exists: checkbox first, then publication name, with proper HTML labels, or 

b - not provide enough support for form labels, in which case our form needs to be redone?

I strongly suspect "b", and I plan to go ahead and redo the form, but I thought I'd ask here first, since I don't have the experience of someone who uses screen reader technology every day.

Received on Wednesday, 2 May 2001 12:35:09 UTC

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