WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

RE: Radio Buttons Again!


From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Oct 20, 2003 10:49AM

On Mon, 20 Oct 2003, John Foliot - WATS.ca wrote:

> Might I also suggest to all that if/whenever possible the <select> form
> input provides greater usability/accessibility for a number of reasons;

You may, but may I suggest just the opposite?

> 1) as previously pointed out, the ordering of radio buttons *may* have a
> cognitive impact, not only for users with developmental issues, but even for
> inexperienced or "mainstream" users [()radio button radio button()]. I
> believe this is the point Jukka was making.

My point was that the label and the field should be very clearly
associated with each other. Using <label> markup for that is good, but
enough. It is true that <select> makes the association clear, since the
selection _is_ the text, in a sense. But a radio button and a label on a
line of their own is just as clear.

> 2) as this thread has pointed out, use of the <label> element is restrictive
> for this form input, another area of potential negative impact.

Well, you can use it to associate buttons with their labels. I don't think
we need to do much more.

> 3) users with mobility impairment issues often find that radio buttons and
> checkboxes are "problematic".

That is true. The default rendering makes them too small, and if you try
to make them bigger, many users don't like it. But by using <label> markup
together with markup that suggests the clickability of the label text,
too, I think you can remove many of the problems.

> ... getting it on "target" is often a challenge.

I am not familiar with the circumstances that you describe, but I would
say that when fine motorics is a considerable challenge, users basically
need keyboard input or its equivalent, i.e. some method for moving from an
element (such as link or form field) to another, without needing to point
at a specific location.

> From a design point of view, <select>s also require less "real estate",
> making forms appear "shorter", etc.... another usability "benefit".

I think it's not a benefit, since when a form is being filled out, then
form fields with their labels are the real thing, the content proper.
All the alternatives should be visible, without specifically opening a
<select> menu. I know that visual viewing is not the only possibility, but
it's the way that most users (including most users with some disability)
use. Besides, when radio buttons are used, you can use text styling and
even add small icons that describe the choices, whereas in <select>, you
are limited to plain text by the syntax.

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

To subscribe, unsubscribe, suspend, or view list archives,
visit http://www.webaim.org/discussion/