ACCESSIBLE FORMS: Don’t Forget to Use Explicit Form Field Labels

Sample HTML form fields with labels

Did you know that most screen readers don’t recognize placeholder values in form fields?

Your website visitors who use screen readers navigate through your forms using the Tab key. The <label> elements are used by screen readers to announce/identify each form control and the type of info to be collected. Placeholder text is bypassed by the screen reader. Plus placeholders are usually more difficult to read by sighted visitors due to color contrast issues.

Example:

White email <label> vs. dark grey “enter your email address” placeholder:

Email form field placeholder text

Use Explicit Form Control Labels

An “explicit” label is created using the HTML label element with a “for” attribute that has the same value as the matching input “id” attribute.

Here is an example:

<label for=”firstname”>First Name: </label>
<input type=”text” name=”first_name” id=firstname”>

The label “for” and the input “id” attributes can be used with any of the form fields: text inputs, text area, select menus, check boxes and radio buttons.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The “id” attribute for each form element in a document must be unique.

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