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Re: Name, Role, Value and Labels or Instructions techniques...

for

From: John Foliot
Date: Mar 29, 2015 11:44AM


Sean Keegan wrote:

> Hello all,
>
> I am reviewing a web application that has many form fields that are
> using the title attribute. To add to this, there is on-screen text for
> nearly all the form fields but the <label> tag is not used
> consistently. It appears that the title attribute was used initially to
> provide supplemental information and then became more of a support for
> screen-readers.
>
> I considered this is a fail under 4.1.2 (Name, Role, Value) and 3.3.2
> (Labels and Instructions). It was pointed out to me that the technique
> H65 allows for the title attribute for form fields and this satisfies
> the "programmatically determined" requirement as well as provides the
> relevant instructions. I say shenanigans as the second part of the H65
> technique uses the phrase "when the label element cannot be used."
>
> Any thoughts/comments from those all-knowing in the ways of WCAG?


For me, the primary question to answer is - is the form usable by those users
requiring AT/screen readers? According to the "HTML to Platform Accessibility
APIs Implementation Guide" (currently still a draft, but accurate
non-the-less), using @title to provide an Accessible Name to a form input is
acceptable, as the algorithm calls for the following:

1. Use aria-labelledby
2. Otherwise use aria-label
3. Otherwise use the associated label element
4. Otherwise use the placeholder attribute
5. Otherwise use the title attribute
6. If none of the above yield a usable text string there is no accessible
name

(source:
http://www.w3.org/TR/html-aapi/#accessible-name-and-description-calculation)

Therefore, if each of the form inputs @title value serves as a useful
accessible name then it meets the practical requirement that drives the spirit
of WCAG. Further, basic testing confirms that this "works" with screen readers
today. Question: do the @title values "mirror" the on-screen text (exactly
and/or close-enough?). (Note, the algorithm also calls for 'processing' those
instructions in order, so for example if the form input has @placeholder text
present, the Accessibility API's are supposed to expose that value *before*
the value of @title - yes, this is a problem for cognition and low vision
deficits, but as far as the AAPI is concern, it isn't, it's a text value that
'labels' the input.)

If however you are mandated for a strict conformance to WCAG, then per your
reading I would issue, at a minimum, a warning that using the <label> element
is the "better" way of providing an accessible name (label) to form inputs.
However, using @title is not technically "wrong" and does work today.

This "predicament" reminds me of the old saying (regarding marriage) "You can
be right, or you can be married."

HTH

JF