How to Write Accessible Forms

How to Write Accessible Forms

This tutorial can be viewed one part at a time or all in one page.

Let's Get Started

Note that everything you see in this tutorial is something I've seen "in the wild". I'm not making any of this up.

What about 'in-between' text?

Now a screen reader will read out something like: "Username editable, Fullname, Password Editable password, Re-type Password editable password, Female clickable unselected Male clickable unselected Female clickable unselected Male clickable unselected, Where do you live? Select Province Drop-down, Comments, Enter comments here, clickable unchecked I have read the Link Terms and Conditions and I agree to comply with them, Submit clickable."

If you're paying close attention you'll see it's missing a few things like password requirements, "What's your Gender?", and "All required fields were in red." First, any instructions about the form should come before the form! So we'll just move that up top. While we're at it, put that Terms and Conditions checkbox before the submit button!

As for the "What's your gender?", well, this could have been in the User Proper HTML section. When you have a group of form controls that are closely related (like a group of radio buttons), or a group of form controls that have the same text to "bind them all together" (if you will), then a fieldset and legend are what you're looking for. The fieldset is what binds them all together, and the legend is what is read before each label.

<form method="POST" action="#" name="theForm" id="theForm">
<div>All required fields are in red.</div>
<label for="username" style="color: #FF0000; background-color: #FFFFFF;"><b>Username:</b></label>
<input type="text" name="uname" id="username">
<label for="firstname" style="color: #FF0000; background-color: #FFFFFF;"><b>Full Name:</b></label>
<input type="text" name="fname" id="firstname" placeholder="Full names must consist only of letters, a dash, and no more than 3 spaces."/>
<label for="password1" style="color: #FF0000; background-color: #FFFFFF;"><b>Password:</b></label>
<input type="password" name="password" id="password1"/>
<div>Passwords should be at least 8 characters, contain numbers, upper and lower case letters and a special character. This way it will be hard for you to remember, but easy for a computer to guess.</div>
<label for="password2" style="color: #FF0000; background-color: #FFFFFF;"><b>Re-type Password:</b></label>
<input type="password" name="repassword" id="password2"/>
<legend><b>What's your gender:</b></legend>
<input type="radio" name="gender" value="female">
<input type="radio" name="gender" value="male">
<label for="province"><b>Where do you live?:</b></label>
<select id="province" name="prov">
<option value="false">Select Province</option>
<option value="ab">Alberta:</option>
<option value="bc">British Columbia</option>
<option value="mn">Manitoba</option>
<option value="nfld">Newfoundland</option>
<option value="nb">New Brunswick</option>
<option value="nwt">Northwest Territories</option>
<option value="ns">Nova Scotia</option>
<option value="nv">Nunavit</option>
<option value="on">Ontario</option>
<option value="pei">Prince Edward Island</option>
<option value="qc">Quebec</option>
<option value="sk">Saskatchewan</option>
<option value="yk">Yukon</option>
<label for="comments"><b>Comments:</b></label>
<textarea id="comments" name="comments">Enter comments here.</textarea>
<label style="color: #FF0000; background-color: #FFFFFF;">
<input type="checkbox" name="agree"> <b>I have read the <a href="accessibleForms/tandc.php">Terms and Conditions</a> and I agree to comply with them.</b></label>
<input type="submit" onclick="return validateBetterThenSubmit();" value="Submit">

See this example in action.