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Re: <select multiple> and WCAG compliance


From: Steve Green
Date: Oct 24, 2017 6:23AM

My view is that if it doesn't work in all the major browsers, then it's a WCAG non-compliance even if the code is HTML standards-compliant. That particular WCAG success criterion does not require the HTML to be compliant - it requires the feature to be keyboard accessible, which it isn't.

I have been able to select non-contiguous options using Firefox but I have not been able to do so using Chrome or Internet Explorer. Has anyone been able to do so in either of those browsers?

There is another, perhaps bigger, issue. When returning to a page containing a multi-select combobox, the user does not know it is multi-select. If they give focus to it without holding down the necessary modifier key (which seems to be different in each browser) all the selected options will become unselected. There would therefore need to be some text explaining this (and the need for text explaining how your UI works is usually a clue it's a bad design).

Steve Green
Managing Director
Test Partners Ltd

From: WebAIM-Forum < <EMAIL REMOVED> > on behalf of Roel Van Gils < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Sent: 24 October 2017 12:47
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: [WebAIM] <select multiple> and WCAG compliance


I consider using `<select multiple>` (see example below) a very poor practice in terms of accessibility (and usability in general). I usually suggest using a series of checkboxes instead.

<select multiple>
<option value="volvo">Volvo</option>
<option value="saab">Saab</option>
<option value="opel">Opel</option>
<option value="audi">Audi</option>

Most users don't know they have to hold down a modifier key (dependent on the OS they're using) to select more than items, and even if even they know (or tell them), it's hard for certain users to operate the keyboard and the mouse at the same time. Without a mouse, I believe that's not even possible in most browsers.

Screenreader support is also spotty, but it's possible (if you try hard enough).

My question is: is it acceptable to let a website fail for WCAG 2.1.1 ('Make all functionality available from a keyboard') when the author uses perfectly valid and semantic HTML? That seems wrong.

That seems really weird, because, after all, it's perfectly valid and Plain Old Semantic HTML.

I'd love to hear your opinions.


Roel Van Gils
Inclusive Design & Accessibility Consultant

Tel.: +32 473 88 18 06
Skype: roelvangils
Twitter: twitter.com/roelvangils
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/roelvangils