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Microsoft Word Fillable Forms - Checkbox field navigation broken?


From: Philip Kiff
Date: Jan 24, 2020 8:30AM

I am trying to create an accessible Microsoft Word fillable form using
Office 365. My form has several checkbox fields in sequence. When I
restrict editing on the form, users are able to navigate the form fields
using the up and down cursor keys. But when I test the form using
keyboard only, the first checkbox field of any pair in sequence gets
skipped. I assume the same problem exists for screen readers, but I've
not tested that.

I found some online notes from several years ago that suggest this is a
bug in Word. In order to make the checkboxes functional again, they
recommend either NOT using the restrict editing setting, or putting the
entire document inside a field group.

This seems crazy and broken to me that this problem has existed for
several years with no fix. Am I doing something wrong, or is this
checkbox issue really a known bug in up-to-date Office 365?

If you are wondering why I'm working with Microsoft Word forms at all, I
should explain that I actually try to avoid Microsoft Word forms like
the plague: I generally assume that it is practically impossible to
create an actually accessible document using those dang Microsoft form
fields. In this case, however, I will be creating an alternate version
of this file as a properly accessible PDF form. But we also want to
distribute an editable Word version of the form to intermediaries so
that they can in turn generate custom versions of the form that meet the
needs of their own specific end-users. And I just want to get that
editable Word form as close to "accessible" as I can.


Philip Kiff
D4K Communications