WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: "Disabled" vs. "Read-only"


From: Steve Green
Date: Jan 4, 2008 1:40PM

We had a different problem with disabled fields. It's a couple of years ago
but my recollection is that a user with voice recognition software was able
to give focus to the field and could not understand why they could not
change the contents.

One solution is to display the data as plain text rather than as a form
control. It may take a bit more coding but it would solve all your problems
from the user's perspective. If the data cannot be changed, I can't see why
it would need to be a form control.


-----Original Message-----
[mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Cliff Tyllick
Sent: 04 January 2008 20:21
Subject: [WebAIM] "Disabled" vs. "Read-only"

Our developers have informed me of a problem with the forms in one of our
Web applications. We have designated fields as disabled, because the user
cannot edit them and we do not want the tab to stop in them. But, in IE, the
text in these fields shows up in such a light shade of gray that the color
contrast ratio fails miserably---as low as 1.5:1 for portions of plain text;
no better than 2.4:1 for bold text. Low-vision users, including at least one
person at our agency with normal vision but a bright office, have trouble
even seeing the text.

I'm told we could fix the contrast problem by making the fields
read-only---but then they would look and, with respect to tab order, act
just like editable fields. So then users would be misled about their

Anyone else dealt with this tightrope? Any successes?