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WCAG 2.0 Comment Submission

From: WCAG 2.0 Comment Form <nobody@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2006 04:31:19 +0000 (UTC)
To: public-comments-wcag20@w3.org
Message-Id: <20060607043119.1B4CBDAF30@w3c4-bis.w3.org>

Name: Jessica Enders
Email: jessicae@hiser.com.au
Affiliation: The Hiser Group
Document: W2
Item Number: Success Criterion 2.5.4
Part of Item: 
Comment Type: TE
Comment (Including rationale for any proposed change):
This Criterion states that \"Context-sensitive help is available for text input\". The accompanying advice on how to meet this criterion seems to suggest that such help must be available for ALL text input fields. 

If it is sufficient, to meet this criterion, to have clear labels for all text input fields, then you can ignore my comments here. However, if the guidelines are suggesting that there needs to be specific help text for every text-entry field, AS WELL AS a clear label, then please read on!

As a professional and experienced questionnaire designer, I feel this is unreasonable and may in fact hinder usability for all users, not just those with a disability, and reduce data quality. 

It is well documented that providing examples for a question can, in fact, reduce the accuracy of the response because users tend to limit their thinking to just those provided examples. Moreover, good form design notes that the information required to provide a response should ideally be located with the label for that response field (ie don\'t separate instructions from the relevant questions). As such, authors should be incorporating all the information that is needed into the label/question, rather than providing some information in a separate area.

Add to this the fact that there isn\'t much useful help that can be added to many text fields. For example, what help would you give for your own text field \"Proposed Change\" below? Adding text along the lines of \"Please type here a description of the change that you think we should make\" is superfluous, patronising and degrades the user experience. Please let us not return to the bad old days where even fields such as \"Family Name\" had an instruction that consequently made users feel like idiots, and contributed to the instruction blindness that is prevalent today.

Proposed Change:
Reword the criterion or its associated documentation to make it clear that:

- in all cases, the label for the text entry field must clearly communicate what sort of information should be provided in the field

- additional context-sensitive help need only be provided where it is reasonably required to explain what is to be entered, or to minimise the burden on the user.
Received on Wednesday, 7 June 2006 04:31:19 UTC

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