Pete Freitag Pete Freitag

Accessibility and Usability in Forms Outline

Updated on December 06, 2023
By Pete Freitag

I gave a talk today called Form Accessibility & Usability here's the outline.

What's Usability?

  • Intuitive
  • Unobtrusive
  • Simple
  • No master formula

Why Usability?

  • Improved user experience
  • More conversions (success)
  • Over 50% shopping carts abandoned?

What's Accessibility?

  • Software that is usable by people with handicaps (for the web typically poor vision, color blindness)
  • Section 508 Compatibility - Federal Rehabilitation Act

Why Accessibility?

  • You may be required legally
  • Nearly 10% color blind
  • 3% Blind or Visually Impaired

Section 508

"A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided"

Use alt and longdesc

Captcha Codes are not accessible.

"Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup."
"Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet."

Show web pages with CSS turned off

"Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables."

Use th tags

"When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues."

Use label tag and accesskey attribute.

"When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology."
"A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a web site comply with the provisions of this part, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes."

If impossible to comply make a text only page - but only if impossible.

"Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation."
"Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz."
"When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with section 1194.21(a) through (l)."

Screen Readers

Demo VoiceOver on mac (hit command F5)

Accessible Forms

  • Use label tag
  • Use accesskey
  • Use fieldset and legend tags
  • Use tabindex

Example of a Accessible Form

<form action="" method="post">
  <legend>Please Login Below</legend>
  <label for="email" accesskey="E">Email:</label>
  <input type="text" name="email" id="email" tabindex="1" />
  <br />
  <label for="password" accesskey="P">Password:</label>
  <input type="password" name="password" id="password" tabindex="2" />
  <br />
  <input type="submit" value="login" tabindex="3" accesskey="S">


See Styling your forms with CSS and Labels.

Form Usability

Start with Accessibility

Forms should have smart backends on the server side that can parse and extract info. Examples:

  • 30 Boxes Calendar - add an event in one text box.
  • Indeed - seach for jobs with two boxes (no box for city, state, zip, title, position, company, etc)

Let the computer do the formatting

Usability Testing

The 5 second test.

Other usability tips.

Make Friendly URLs.

Make error messages friendly, and don't use technical jargon.


presentations usability accessibility section508 label forms

Accessibility and Usability in Forms Outline was first published on February 14, 2006.

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Thanks for posting the presentation online Pete, good information at the meeting.
by Craig on 02/14/2006 at 5:05:01 PM UTC
Thanks Craig! Good to have you there today.
by Pete Freitag on 02/14/2006 at 5:41:01 PM UTC