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Re: Labels and Accessibility

From: <nick@webthing.com>
Date: Thu, 25 Jul 2002 23:45:21 +0100 (BST)
To: "Kuster, Joseph D " <jdk906s@smsu.edu>
cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.21.0207252331220.2282-100000@jarl.webthing.com>

On Thu, 25 Jul 2002, Kuster, Joseph D  wrote:

> According to the Section 508 Web Accessibility standards, each form
> field requires a label.

My reading of that is that it should be accessibly labelled, but not that
that necessarily requires use of the "label" element.
>	However, I've noticed from a usability
> perspective adding a title attribute for the form elements such as a
> text box will allow that title to be read by a screen reader. My
> question is this, on pages where text displayed by the form field would
> not be ideal for the site design; would a title attribute suffice for
> accessibility? 

Not necessarily.  For example, lynx doesn't render titles, so a system
based on it (with or without a screenreader on top) won't help.  OTOH, the
traditional table-style layout

LABEL1  element1
LABEL2  element2

is just fine.

ICBW, but I routinely use table markup, with something like
<th scope="row">LABEL1</th> to associate such a label with its control.

> I've also tried using an invisible image with an alt tag that could be
> used as a label and include <label> tags for that image just like it was
> text. It too, seems to work fine for a label. Is this a suitable
> solution when a developer would like to avoid displaying a text label?

Sounds OK.  But if you want to avoid displaying a text label, do you
necessarily want to do something *different* for assistive devices?

>	 A
> good example would be when you have an input box being used as a search
> box, and the submit button clearly states "Search Site."

OK, either of your proposals sounds perfectly good to me for that.

> If anyone knows a contact that could help me out as far as the
> accessibility of these options, the information would be greatly
> appreciated.

Well, that's just my opinion, and won't carry any weight if you have
a PHB breathing down your neck.  Take it or leave it.

Nick Kew
Received on Thursday, 25 July 2002 18:45:25 UTC

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