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Re: placeholder text in input controls

From: Sailesh Panchang <sailesh.panchang@deque.com>
Date: Sun, 11 Dec 2011 19:21:18 -0500
Message-ID: <CAJi9CqoM+BrHYurort=ooW07JPdzzxSic-V=T-b_RvwNFzMYeQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: Cliff Tyllick <cliff.tyllick@yahoo.com>
Cc: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
The HTML5 specs(1) for the placeholder attribute say: "...represents a
short hint (a word or short phrase) intended to aid the user with data
entry. A hint could be a sample value or a brief description of the
expected format.  ..."
It even suggests use of a title attribute if longer hints are needed.
Most importantly, it says it does not replace the label element /
label associaition.
It is merely a method that helps developers  to avoid JS code via
which they temporarily display  a hint that disappears when field gets
focus. Here again developers may be forced to write JS code to make
the attribute work with browsers that do not support the attribute.
It will never become a sufficient technique for WCAG 2 SC 1.3.1 or SC
3.3.2 because it is not meant to convey structure / purpose of the
field like a label element.
And generally, it will be quite a while before HTML5 techniques make
it to the WCAG 2 list of sufficient techniques.
Sailesh Panchang

*1. http://dev.w3.org/html5/spec-author-view/common-input-element-attributes.html#the-placeholder-attribute

On 12/11/11, Cliff Tyllick <cliff.tyllick@yahoo.com> wrote:
> I realize I'm far from the first to chime in on this discussion, but it
> bears considering that people with cognitive impairments—and, well, just
> plain people in general—can become frustrated when the only cue as to what
> belongs in a form field is the placeholder text.
> After all, a general best practice is to give instructions at the point of
> need, which is as the person is completing the form field. And if the only
> place the label for the field appears is in the placeholder text, then the
> instructions are there until the person completing the form needs them—and
> then they disappear, right at the point of need.
> We can make it happen, but that doesn't mean we should.
> Cliff Tyllick
Received on Monday, 12 December 2011 03:08:10 UTC

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