WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: Re[2]: Include default text?


From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Oct 23, 2004 5:17PM

On Sat, 23 Oct 2004, glenda wrote:

> Jukka, I love how you are so positive and supportive! No offense intended.

No offence taken. I see not reason to be positive and supportive towards
widespread bogosity.

> This discussion on the use of icons and the one on default text begs the
> question: if "we" can't come to a consensus, how can we expect people "out
> there" to understand and accept Web accessibility.

Some of them might be smarter than we are. People who advocate
accessibility might have lost the big picture and idea. It's so common to
get focused on tools and measures and guidelines instead of the original

> I'm still no further ahead on my initial question.

Really? It's very simple. Don't use default text, except when you can set
a meaningful initial (default) value for a text field.

> Some screen readers work
> fine without default text, older technology may not.

That "older technology" is mostly a myth, especially by now, and we surely
shouldn't make pages less accessible to the vast majority just to cope
with errors in ancient technology. Surely any user agent that cannot deal
with initially empty fields is impossible to use for surfing (since
most text fields on Web pages are initially empty) and surely
there are better alternatives. Even if we could serve them with some
tricks without disturbing the users of all other browsers, we shouldn't do
that. It's a disservice to try to help people to keep using
seriously outdated software that could and should have been replaced long ago.

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