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RE: H65: Using the title attribute to identify form controls when the label element cannot be used

From: Phil Spencer <spencer_phil@hotmail.com>
Date: Thu, 10 May 2012 12:08:36 +0100
Message-ID: <DUB106-W531826F85D96B6B26BAB3F1160@phx.gbl>
To: <rhudson@usability.com.au>, ax interest list <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

Thanks Roger,

Apologies - where I wrote "for whatever reason" that was shorthand in my head for "the reasons outlined in H65 that I can't be bothered to re-type here". I should have been more clear.

The actual case here is that of a grid of radio buttons with column and row headers but no individual <label> element for each input.

And just for total clarity, I am absolutely NOT considering the implemented technique (not my suggestion BTW, but implemented by a developer in a separate business), to be acceptable. I was surprised to find that it appeared to "work" with IE9 + Jaws, In fact I almost didn't bother to test it at all and just flag it as non conforming, but when it did appear to "work" it occurred to me that perhaps there was something in the HTML specification that I was unaware of which defines a form control without a title attribute inherits from it's parent element or something similar. Hence my question here to see if anyone knew if the behaviour I experienced was expected or atypical.

Steve F very kindly confirmed to me that it is not expected behaviour so the problem has been flagged!

Thanks for your help,
Phil S.

From: rhudson@usability.com.au
To: spencer_phil@hotmail.com; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: RE: H65: Using the title attribute to identify form controls when the  label element cannot be used
Date: Thu, 10 May 2012 20:52:41 +1000

Hi Phil, If I might make a couple of comments regarding your question. But, first I would like to make it clear that I support the use of the title attribute in appropriate circumstances. First, H65 doesn’t suggests the title attribute can be used for whatever reason. Rather, it states it can be used “when the visual design cannot accommodate the label” and provides two examples, which in my opinion are the most likely cases where this could apply; search inputs and inputs for the different components of phone numbers. Also, H65 suggests the title attribute should be used with the form control, which does not appear to be the case with your example. Second, I would be cautious about considering a technique to be acceptable based on testing with just a few browsers and assistive devices. In this regard, I would suggest following the WCAG 2 Sufficient Techniques which I understand have been rigorously before being accepted. At this stage, the technique you propose does not appear to be considered a Sufficient Technique within WCAG 2. I would be interested to know how this technique works with older versions of JAWS as well as a range of other screen reader-browser combinations before considering it accessible. Regards, Roger   From: Phil Spencer [mailto:spencer_phil@hotmail.com] 
Sent: Thursday, 10 May 2012 7:26 PM
To: ax interest list
Subject: H65: Using the title attribute to identify form controls when the label element cannot be used Hi All,

I have a question that I'm hoping someone may be able to help with regarding technique H65: Using the title attribute to identify form controls when the label element cannot be used.

This technique is about using a title attribute to describe a form element where a label element can't be used for whatever reason, and relates to several success criteria as listed in the link below:


I'm evaluating a web page where this technique has been used in a slightly different way. The descriptive title attribute has been applied to a span element that wraps the form element, rather than directly to the element itself, simplified code snippet follows:

<span title="description of form element"><input type="radio" /></span>

My question is, is this sufficient to meet the various success criteria? I kind of assumed that it wouldn't be, but when I tested with IE9 and JAWS12 it seemed to work just the same as if the title attribute was directly on the form element.

Does anyone have any experience with this? Is the JAWS / IE behaviour likely to be repeated with other browser / AT combinations?

Many thanks in advance,

Phil Spencer.

Received on Thursday, 10 May 2012 11:09:11 UTC

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