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Re: Auto-focusing form fields


From: Tim Beadle
Date: Apr 18, 2007 9:20AM

On 18/04/07, Alastair Campbell < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
> You might get conflicting advice, most agreeing, but nobody seems to
> have a problem with Google doing it! (Then again, I suspect quite a few
> screen reader users probably don't realise there are options above the
> search.)

Indeed - a lot of people have said "it depends on the context" but
this would only apply from a usability, not accessibility, standpoint.

As I understand it, if a screenreader skips past the explanatory text
for a field, then the user has no clue what the purpose of the field

> I would class moving the focus around without informing the user as
> similar to new windows (without informing the user) or a tabindex that
> doesn't follow the document flow, i.e. confusing.
> In the situation you describe, it is quite likely to be an issue,
> because (I assume) the page reloads and plonks the focus in the middle
> somewhere. The user is probably expecting to be on a new page, so it's
> important to change that expectation quickly.
> I would consider putting the focus at the top of the content area (above
> the error message), but I wouldn't move it into the form.
> I'm afraid I don't have much to back this up with, we came across it a
> few years ago causing issues and have avoided it ever since.
> As a general rule, I'd put error text at the top ("there are X problems
> on the form below"), and a specific message above the field(s) with
> errors as well.

We may implement focusing the content area instead, but for the moment
we've just removed the field auto-focusing.

Thanks for your input.