WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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RE: Accessible Matrix Forms


From: Andrew Kirkpatrick
Date: May 12, 2006 3:20PM

> We're more or less supposed to use a fieldset element for a
> set of radio buttons, though in practice, a heading or just
> heading-like text is almost as good as a legend - and causes
> fewer protests from visual designers.

It is not as good. A fieldset creates a semantic relationship that
defines the start and end of the grouping.

> On some assistive technologies, yes. That covers about 1 % of
> users or less. Many other users have accessibility problems
> too. In particular, labels would be relevant to people who
> wish to use a graphic browser with a mouse but have a minor
> motoric disability, so that it is difficult to click exactly
> on a small button.

The problem is that there is not agreement on your point that the matrix
form is inherently bad. You could make a version of a form that make it
much more clear which label went with which radio, and you could make it
so that there was a much larger hit area too.

Can you envision a solution where a mstrix form would satisfy your
requirements without repeating the same labels over and over? If we
can't deal with issues like this, then accessibility won't permeate
design implementations anytime soon.

> My point is that this is clumsy and unreliably trickery,
> aiming at making an imitation of a paper questionnaire more
> accessible instead of designing a form that works well in the
> web context.

We need to be able to do this. At a minimum, we need a best-practice
for this inevitable situation. Not every argument between a designer
and accessibility advocate is won by the advocate. What's the next best
thing to prevailing in that discussion?