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e-mail addresses and proper forms labelling of their constituent parts


From: Lori K. Brown
Date: Sep 15, 2003 1:17PM

Dear list:

I am reviewing a form for my company's product. In it, we have a form
that asks for an e-mail address. In this instance, the e-mail address is
not for a particular person, but is for setting up a pop client that
posts messages received by that account into a web-based piece of software.

Right now, the form requests the pop client address in two different
fields, with an @ sign in between them. This is our way of doing a
little brute force data validation, as we then concatenate the two
fields w/ the @ sign in between to build the e-mail address.

I have several usability / accessibility questions about this problem,
and this technique.

1) This is another one of those annoying cases where one data element --
an e-mail address -- is built from two form elements (and the @ in
between). Is there a proper way to label this so as not to be confusing
for screen reader users? In particular, are there specific names for the
front part of an e-mail address and the back part that are widely and
correctly understood?

2) Would an example, like ' <EMAIL REMOVED> ', be helpful?

3) Is there a best-practice solution to this problem? In particular, is
it preferred to just let users type their own complete addresses without
engaging in this kind of parsing operation?

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Lori K. Brown

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