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RE: Web Forms: Usability and Accessibility Question.

From: Geoff Deering <gdeering@acslink.net.au>
Date: Wed, 4 Feb 2004 09:49:05 +1100
To: "Derek Featherstone" <feather@wats.ca>, "'WAI Interest Group'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <NBBBJPNFCLNLAADCLFJBAEAEFMAA.gdeering@acslink.net.au>


-----Original Message-----
From: Derek Featherstone [mailto:feather@wats.ca]

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.

Thanks, that's an interesting approach.  Especially grouping everything
together like that.  That makes a lot of sense and seems to be a very
practical implementation for users.

It kind of worries me how much we may be straying from the HCI GUI
guidelines with forms and their intention.  I notice these days so many
inconsistencies in design, I wonder if it confuses users or makes it easier
to understand.  I'm basically referring to the styling of form elements that
take away the users ability to immediately identify them.  I'm talking about
taking the 3D bevelling out of text input fields and even buttons and having
the same wrapper as everything else that's boxed, so that in the end you
can't immediately recognise which is a form element, like a search box.
Also, when you get to complex forms, the text input field is styled but the
combo is default.  Looks weird.  ... kind of got side tracked there, but
thought it was an interesting sidebar.

Geoff
Received on Tuesday, 3 February 2004 15:50:26 UTC

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