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


From: Michael Moore
Date: Feb 23, 2005 7:55AM

This is another example of a level 3 guideline that doesn't really work
and one that I believe will be removed. I reiterate that level 3
guidelines are in the category of nice to do, not must or even should
do. Prior to employing techniques in level three, consider how
technology may have changed since the guidelines, whether the
recommendation really benefits any users in the specific instance that
you are considering using it, and whether that benefit is outweighed by
any problems that it may cause. In testing that we have done, we have
found that this practice does not benefit most users because the default
value is seldom what should really be in the field when the form is


c.brys wrote:
> Hello,
> 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,
> Cath
> 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
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