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Accessible web forms: default text in edit boxes and text areas


From: Catherine Brys
Date: Feb 23, 2005 3:55AM


The current Web Content Accessibility guidelines advise to put default text
in edit boxes and text areas. However, I have found that people who don't
use a screen reader tend to skip these fields. My guess is that because they
see a non-empty field, they tend to ignore it, assuming it doesn't need
their .

Using JavaScript to clear the field when you click it is not a solution
because people will not click in the field, they just skip it.

Greying out the default text is also not a perfect solution because visually
impaired people may see there is text there but may be unable to read it.

May question is twofold:
- Does anyone know exactly which problem screen reader users encounter if
you don't use the default text?
- Has anyone a solution for this problem?

Many thanks for your help.

Best regards,


Dr. Catherine M. Brys
Library Web Services Administrator
- Library Web Site Accessibility and Usability Project -
Glasgow University Library, Hillhead Street, Glasgow, G12 8QE, Scotland, UK
e: c.brys [at] lib.gla.ac.uk
t: +44 (0)141 330 6748
w: www.lib.gla.ac.uk/accessible