[thelist] accessible way to indicate that a form field is required

Julian Rickards julian.rickards at gmail.com
Fri Nov 17 07:29:01 CST 2006

Screen readers work as a layer on top of browsers (and other applications)
so browser support for whatever feature is required. It is my understanding
that screen readers are not affected by most CSS (although most CSS these
days is visual, not aural) and therefore, if you move content around with
CSS, it changes nothing to a screen reader, it will still read it in HTML
order. Given that the predominant browser is IE and most screen reader users
use IE (support for Firefox in JAWS is only recent) and that IE does not
support aural stylesheets, then aural CSS is not viable at the moment.

However, all this aside, I am not convinced that CSS is the medium through
which you should indicate that a particular field is required. Consider that
a required field is required for everyone so therefore the indicator must be
in the content in one form or another (text stating "Required" or an
asterisk with an explanation). Therefore, the indication for requirement
cannot be in JavaScript or in CSS because either or both may be disabled or
not supported.

Like visual CSS, aural CSS only adds to the (speaking) page, it doesn't
change it. Like the content property of CSS, you can add text to the page
through both visual and aural CSS but if the CSS is not supported or
disabled, aural CSS doesn't help.

On 17/11/06, Lee kowalkowski <lee.kowalkowski at googlemail.com> wrote:
> On 17/11/06, Lee kowalkowski <lee.kowalkowski at googlemail.com> wrote:
> > I don't know if browsers support them, but screen-readers might, I
> > don't know either, that's why I asked the question!
> It occurred to me that focusing too much on visual representation to
> solve non-visual problems might be counter-productive.  If screen
> readers do utilise aural style sheets, then that certainly seems a
> better option, and deserves consideration.
> --
> Lee
> --
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Website: http://jrickards.ca
Blog: http://pen-and-ink.ca

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