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

Barney Carroll barney at textmatters.com
Fri Nov 17 07:48:57 CST 2006

Julian Rickards wrote:
> 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.

Aural css is a very interesting thing. The WAI guidelines generally give 
vague conceptual information about how screen-readers might work, and 
tells you to build sites accordingly. Aural css has to be defined though.

Anybody every used anything like 'voice-family:'? I remember seeing an 
example somewhere, and they seemed to treat it like an imaginary 
extra-fancy font-family. The first value in the list was "Lawrence Olivier".


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