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Re: Legend wrap (or not)


From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Aug 30, 2007 12:10AM

On Wed, 29 Aug 2007, Stephanie Sullivan wrote:

> No, it's not the fieldset/legend...

Now _I_ am offended by your continued odd punctuation, not just by your
(and someone else's) pointless complaints about my polite request to use
normal English punctuation, for accessibility of your messages.

> It's forms mode for the assistive
> technology. Many AT don't read P or headings within a form. So that
> information is lost to the person using it.

Do people actually use such AT in a mode like that? Then the vast majority
of forms on web pages will be inaccessible to them, at least if the
skipping extends to any text inside a form not wrapped into any container
element. (If it's just p and headings, it's very weird: it would punish
authors - and users - for the use of adequate markup.)

(There might be some point in using such a mode on a page that the user
knows well, so that he knows what the form is and wants to use a "fast"
mode. In such a situation, lengthy legends work against the idea of

> Thus my desire to use
> proper semantic markup instead.

The semantics of the legend element is defined in HTML specifications as
assigning a _caption_ to a fieldset element. Long texts seldom make good
captions, or semantically captions at all.

Look at the examples of forms in general and legend elements in particular
in the HTML 4.01 specification. Surely they illustrate that the legend
element is supposed to be a short, heading-like caption, not a lengthy
question, and that explanatory texts are common and normal inside form and
fieldset elements. Any software that skips them is unusable for normal
filling of forms on web pages that have been constructed at least loosely
by the specifications.

(The examples in the spec are bad in the sense of often lacking label
markup, but that's a different issue.)

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/