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RE: a single label where multiple fields follow

From: Lois Wakeman <lois@lois.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2006 10:26:20 +0100
To: "WAI list" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <02fe01c6de29$2a21c740$9601030a@hhb.siteusability.com>

There seems to be  a lot more attention paid in this thread to the more
technical aspects of accessibility, and not so much to how to make entry
easy for people in the real world: and it's not just those with screen
readers who have difficulty filling in these sorts of forms, as I know from
personal experience. Inconsistency of usage, international differences [1],
and many other factors can cause problems.
It seems to me that there is a case for having plain text instructions [2]
that everyone can read, plus supplemental labels/titles/fieldsets or
whatever to identify form elements as necessary when the content can't be
inferred from the order of things on the page if you can't see it. 
[1] or rather, not taking account of international differences properly: as
a UK citizen I occasionally fail to complete a transaction because I *must*
live in the US: no other part of the world exists for some companies.
Likewise, not having the 'correct' format phone number can cause problems,
as already mentioned.
[2] You don't need to have a long paragraph explaining how to fill in a
field but just an example to show people how to do it: "enter your credit
card number, e.g. 1234 5678 9012 or 123456789012"; "enter your sort code
like 20-30-40" - this simply gets round the need for multiple linked fields
and all the extra complexity they require. 
There is nothing to stop you adding more detailed instructions in a linked
help page (for example how to find the security code on your credit card):
the equivalent of the D link for images to be used when all else fails.
However, my own feeling is that if the form is so hard to complete as to
need a help page, it probably needs re-designing by an expert (not me).
Lois Wakeman
-------------------------
http://communicationarts.co.uk
http://lois.co.uk
Received on Friday, 22 September 2006 09:27:56 GMT

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