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Re: Use of pre-compilated text-fields in forms

From: David Poehlman <david.poehlman@handsontechnologeyes.com>
Date: Tue, 9 May 2006 10:34:36 -0400
Message-Id: <96C328B1-F96E-44C9-9370-0B2194B22430@handsontechnologeyes.com>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
To: "Alastair Campbell" <ac@nomensa.com>

apologies to the list for my thick headed ness.  The below message  
couldn't have said it better.  I sympathize and empathize with all  
three issues, troublesom, confusing and annoying.  I understand  
bbetter now all the players but am still left with a need for  
something which meets all needs.

On May 9, 2006, at 9:21 AM, Alastair Campbell wrote:

David Poehlman wrote:
> It is my understanding that valid html at some level for
> accessibility is to use text in the forms.

Ok, let's separate this out. I simply meant that blank inputs are valid,
and should be recognisable via your user agent.

> It's broader than a braille and not braille issue.

Ok, I'm just suggesting that some people with access issues have
problems with having default text, and some have issues not having it.
Thus there is a conflict.

> Now, if I could gett my user agent
> to mark the fields with text for me so that my small screen would
> recognize or my audio or braille output device, we could retire
> this  checkpoint with gusto.

Why should your user agent do this? Surely the requirement is that you
recognise the input field as a text input. That *could* be with default
text, but could be any number of things, depending on what makes sense
for that user agent.

For example, a screen reader might read out "text field" for an input
(and I'm sure they do something like that, I don't have one to hand).
Within a magnified visual display you could have a custom style for
inputs, such as a dashed border and different background. My Google
toolbar adds a yellow background to inputs which it knows the default
answer for.

> I'm thinking
> of the still rather large numbers of people using technology which
> simply does not recognize or report to the user an edit field.
> Just  because a user agent or user agent at combination or two
> does, does  not mean the issue is solved.

I'm not going to play a numbers game - that doesn't help any
accessibility argument. However, I'm sure we agree that there are people
relying on screen readers, magnifiers, braille displays (if that's the
right term?) and those without any assistive technology. (Obviously this
list is far from inclusive, but just for arguments sake.)

Having default text is beneficial to one group because of issues with
the user agent, harmful to another group, and annoying to the general
populace. It is also a hassle for those developing web sites, a
practical issue.

If this checkpoint were kept, it would probably wouldn't even help those
who currently benefit, as the user agents are less likely to update, and
the web at large would remain inconsistent (some people complying, many

Apologies to the list for my stubbornness.

Kind regards,


Alastair Campbell         |  Director of User Experience
t. +44 (0)117 929 7333    |  ac@nomensa.com

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Received on Tuesday, 9 May 2006 14:34:53 UTC

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