Forms accessibility principles

Form accessibility is important to people with the following disabilities:

  • Blindness
  • Low vision
  • Motor impairments
  • Cognitive impairments

Websites are accessed by a variety of devices including mouse, keyboard, touchscreen, switch, joystick and assistive technologies such as screen readers and magnifiers.

When a form is not accessible, some users may be unable to navigate the form components in a logical manner, understand labels, instructions, error messages and suggestions, or submit the form.

Accessibility principles specific to forms include, but are not limited to:

  • All non-text content has a text equivalent
    • Visual information should have a text equivalent.
    • Form components should have a descriptive label.
    • Interactive content or functionality should have a text equivalent.
  • Information and structure can be programmatically determined
    • Form structures are marked-up correctly.
    • Field labels are coded with LABEL FOR and ID.
    • Grouped fields use FIELDSET and LEGEND elements.
  • A meaningful sequence is maintained
    • The correct form sequence can be programmatically determined.
    • Layout tables present information in a meaningful way.
  • Instructions do not rely on sensory characteristics
    • ASCII characters do not represent text.
  • The form is keyboard operable
    • All form functionality is operable with the keyboard.
    • The keyboard focus does not get trapped in a form component.
  • A logical focus order is maintained
    • The keyboard focus order that matches the visual page order is not overwritten.
  • Provide mechanisms to help people find information
    • Provide a search feature to allow information to be found faster by everyone.
  • Do not cause a change of context or content unexpectedly
    • When a user inputs content (or makes a selection) or when a form component receives focus, do not present them with a change in context or content without warning.
  • Identify components consistency
    • Consistently identify and style similar form components.
  • Identify and describe errors in text
    • Errors that are automatically detected should be identified in text and described in detail to users.
  • Provide labels or instructions
    • Help prevent users from making mistakes by providing labels or instructions on how to fill out a form.
  • Provide error suggestions
    • Provide relevant suggestions to help users correct form errors.
  • Prevent people from making errors
    • Help prevent users from making serious errors or mistakes by providing a method to check or correct information before submitting a form.