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Re: accessibility of textfield watermark/placeholder text


From: Patrick Burke
Date: Apr 28, 2011 4:57PM

Hi Angela,

At 01:29 PM 4/28/2011, Angela French wrote:
>I would appreciate it if any of you could educate me a bit on
>pros/cons of using watermarks or placeholder text in form text fields.
>What do screen reader users experience when encountering this text?

A nightmare? :)

>Are any problems encountered in making sure all the placeholder text
>has been removed before submission?

Yes, this is a classic problem. Either the user has to delete the
extra text (assuming s/he notices that it's still there) or you have
to figure out how to remove it when processing the submitted form data.

>Do they present aural clutter, or useless noise?


The pro argument is that it may be hard to convey instructions in
other ways that reliably get the info to all users.

This WebAIM article has a short section on placeholder text (old,
current, & HTML5 methods):



Patrick J. Burke

UCLA Disabilities &
Computing Program

Phone: 310 206-6004
E-mail: burke <at> ucla. edu
Department Contact: <EMAIL REMOVED>