Accessible Forms

Many websites use forms - contact forms, search box forms, guestbook forms, forms for buying a product. The list goes on. On this site, there is a contact form. Internet shoppers use forms to select, pay and arrange for the delivery of their purchases.

"As the Web grows, more and more transactions will be done online bringing benefits to all Web users. We are increasingly going online for example, to do our banking and shopping, request information, book travel, pay bills and participate in education and training courses. In most cases, all this is possible at a time and from a location of our own choosing."

"In many ways the freedom and flexibility of online transactions has the potential to be of the greatest benefits to people in the community with disabilities. The Web could allow tasks that many now find very time consuming and difficult to become relatively simple and in the process open up new opportunities. All of this is possible, but only if everyone can access the forms that facilitate online transactions." - from Web Usability

Creating Accessible Forms

Forms are not the easiest thing to navigate for people with disabilities. We can make it easier by adding some elements to our forms. Some of these elements are:

Labels

"The LABEL element associates a label with a form control. By associating labels with form controls, authors give important hints to users of speech browsers while also allowing visual browsers to duplicate common GUI features (e.g., the ability to click on a text label to select a radio button or checkbox)." - WDG - Web Design Group

Each of the fields in your form should have its own label. Each LABEL element is associated with only one form control.

"The FOR attribute explicitly specifies the control associated with the LABEL. The value of the FOR attribute must match the value of the associated form control's ID attribute. In the absence of the FOR attribute, the LABEL must contain the associated form control. This method of implicit association is convenient in many cases, but not an option when the form control and its label are in different table cells, paragraphs, or divisions."  - WDG - Web Design Group

The ID attribute uniquely identifies an element within a document. No two elements can have the same ID value in a single document. The value is case-sensitive. - WDG - Web Design Group

Examples of the use of label, for and id are shown below:


<p><label for="yourname">Your Name:</label><br />
<input type="text" name="yourname" id="yourname" /></p>


<p><label for="comments">Comments:</label><br />
<textarea name="comments" id="comments"></textarea></p>

 

<p><input type="submit" name="submit" value="Send the Message" />
<input type="reset" name="reset" value="Reset the Form" /></p>

Field sets and legends

You can group fields, for example name (first, last, middle, title etc.) or address (line 1, line 2, county, country, postal code, country etc.) using the <fieldset tag>. The fieldset tag draws a box around its containing elements and helps group form elements into logical groupings.. The legend tag adds a title to the frame and places it within the frame.

Your Favorite Cookie:


<fieldset>
<legend>Your Favorite Cookie:</legend><br />
<input id="chocolatechip" type="checkbox" name="checkbox" value="checkbox" />
<label for="chocolatechip">Chocolate Chip</label><br />
<input id="peanutbutter" type="checkbox" name="checkbox2" value="checkbox" /> 
<label for="peanutbutter">Peanut Butter</label><br />
<input id="sugar" type="checkbox" name="checkbox3" value="checkbox" />
<label for="sugar">Sugar</label>
</fieldset>

Option groups

The <optgroup> tag defines an option group. This element allows you to group choices. When you have a long list of options, groups of related choices are easier to handle. groups options in a select box. It requires a label attribute, the value of which is displayed as a non-selectable pseudo-heading preceding that group in the drop-down list of visual browsers.

<select name="favoritefood">
<optgroup label="Favorite Cookie">
<option>Chocolate Chip</option>
<option>Sugar</option>
<option>Peanut Butter</option>
</optgroup>
<optgroup label="Favorite Pie">
<option>Apple</option>
<option>Lemon Meringue</option>
<option>Key Lime</option>
<option>Cherry</option>
</optgroup>
<optgroup label="Favorite Cake">
<option>Chocolate</option>
<option>Pound</option>
<option>Coconut</option>
</optgroup>
</select>

Navigating fields

You need to be able to navigate a form without the use of a pointing device such as a mouse. Tab stops and access keys used with forms make this task easier. Examples from the contact form on this site can be seen below.

<accesskey> The ACCESSKEY attribute specifies a single Unicode character as a shortcut key for giving focus to the LABEL, which passes the focus on to the associated form control.

<tabindex> This attribute specifies the position of the current element in the tabbing order for the current document.

<p><label for="yourname">Your Name: </label><br />
<input type="text" name="yourname" 
id="yourname" accesskey="f" tabindex="1" /></p>
<p><label for="email">Email Address: </label><br />
<input type="text" name="email" 
id="email" tabindex="2" /></p>
<p><label for="comments">Comments:</label><br />
<textarea rows="5" name="comments" 
id="comments" tabindex="5"></textarea></p>

View the contact form > right click > view source

Accessible Forms and Expression Web

To create your form in Expression Web, follow these steps:

Step 1: Using the Toolbox Task Pane, create your form and form elements. The toolbox has a Forms submenu that can be used to insert different form elements. Double click or click and drag to insert an element. The Toolbox is available from the Task Pane Menu Option on the menu bar. NOTE: In Expression Web 3.0 and 4.0 the toolbox is accessed from the Panels Menu.

Screenshot toolbox task pane.

Screenshot of Toolbox Task Pane.

Step 2: For each form element (text box, radio button, checkbox, or drop-down menu), you will need to enter the form properties. Right click the form element you just added > Form Field Properties

Screenshot Form Field Properties Menu.

You should enter descriptive text that informs the user what to enter or select. This text will become the label for the form element.

Screenshot Form Field Properties Dialogue Box.

Sample Code:

<form method="post">
	<p>Your Name: <input name="yourname" 
type="text" size="60" tabindex="1" /></p>
</form>

Step 3: Add a label to the form element. This is best done in the code view. While it is possible to create labels using the Label option  Screenshot Label Menu Option.  in the Toolbox Task Pane, it is not recommended.

Code entered using Label option from the Toolbox Task Pane which you will need to edit.

	<p><label id="Label1"></label>Your Name: 
<input name="yourname" type="text" size="60" tabindex="1" /></p>

Code entered manually

	<p><label for="yourname">Your Name: </label>
<input name="yourname" type="text" size="60" tabindex="1" /></p>

Step 4: Repeat these steps for all of your form elements. You can add the labels as you go or create them for all of the form elements once your form is complete.

 

Additional Resources on Creating Accessible Forms