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RE: Web Forms: Usability and Accessibility Question.

From: Derek Featherstone <feather@wats.ca>
Date: Tue, 3 Feb 2004 08:42:05 -0500
To: <gdeering@acslink.net.au>, "'WAI Interest Group'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000101c3ea5b$82f16ed0$fe01a8c0@faottcan001>

Geoff Deering wrote:
> What about when a field is mandatory?  The standard way of
> indicating this is with an asterisk after the label.  For
> accessibility this should precede any other information in
> the label so that the user knows that what follows is
> mandatory.  So what special techniques can others share with
> this?

One method I've been using lately (admittedly as an experiment to see what
is possible) is to wrap all mandatory form items in a fieldset with a legend
that indicates the form controls are Required Information, and another
fieldset that groups the Optional Information. Loosely:

<fieldset>
	<legend>Required Information</legend>
	Form contents here
</fieldset>

<fieldset>
	<legend>Optional Information</legend>
	More form contents here
</fieldset>

Its certainly not always easy to group forms like this, but I felt the
construct was worth working with, as it can benefit all users, including
those using some adaptive technology. One advantage I've found is that JAWS
will read the legend text for that fieldset before reading the label on the
form controls. This seems to be a default setting in JAWS, although I can't
confirm that right now.

In any case -- just one possibility for providing them the information that
those form controls are mandatory that doesn't require an asterisk.

Just my 2cents...

Best regards,
Derek.
--
Derek Featherstone  feather@wats.ca
Web Accessibility Specialist / Co-founder of WATS.ca
Web Accessibility Testing and Services   http://www.wats.ca
1.866.932.4878 (North America)  613.599.9784
Received on Tuesday, 3 February 2004 08:47:55 UTC

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