GUIDELINES 1.3.5, 3.3
Forms refers to the inputs, and how authors can help users to avoid and correct mistakes on said forms. Ensuring users can read and see content on the form and how to complete it. This guideline goes over how to create a page with this in mind, as well as gives insights on how, when. and why you would want to have forms accessible to your users.
Who is impacted?
Users with visual impairments, cognitive, language, or learning disabilities are primarily affected. However, the majority of users can be affected by poorly made forms.
How to test?
Complete a form on your web page and check that there are clear identifiers for errors and that there are clear instructions and labels on the form to prevent errors.
Identify Input Purpose
If an input field is able to collect information from the user and programatically determine the type of data expected, it would make filling out forms easier for the users. This is known as the autofill function.
When the autocomplete attribute is present, browsers can suggest and “autofill” the correct content by autocompleting certain fields based on past user input stored. The user would be relieved of having to type out all of their information and instead can confirm or change the values inputted in the field.
If an input error is detected the item that is in error is identified and described to the user in text so that they can be aware that there is an error, and understand what that error is. It is important that the error message displayed is as specific as possible to avoid any possible confusion.
Input error is defined as information provided by the user that is not accepted. This includes:
- Information that is required by the web page but omitted by the user.
- Information that is provided by the user but falls outside the required data format or allowed values.
The use of describing errors is also discussed on our Color page.
Labels or Instructions
Labels and instructions are provided when content requires user input. Authors should present this information so users can identify the controls and know what inputs are necessary. They may also specify formats that should be followed when entering information.
Each option must have appropriate labelling so that users understand what they are selecting. Authors should aim to provide important cues and instructions to avoid cluttering the page.
If an input error is detected and suggestions for the correction is known, then the suggestion is provided to the user if possible. The only instance where this would not be the case is when a suggestion to the error affects security or the purpose of the content.
For web pages that require the user to submit information, at least one of the following must be true:
- Reversible: Submissions are reversible.
- Checked: Data entered by the user is checked for input errors, and the user is provided with an opportunity to correct them.
- Confirmed: A mechanism is available for reviewing, confirming, and correcting information before finalizing a submission.
These are also the case when web pages that cause legal commitments or financial transactions for the user to occur, that modify or delete user controllable data in data storage systems, or submit user test responses.
It is important to provide users with the ability to reverse actions to correct a mistake, or providing them with the ability to review and correct information that allows them to detect a mistake before completing an action.
Context-sensitive help should be available. This would be any help text that provides information related to a current function or task that the user is performing. This helps users avoid making mistakes and helps them perform their task without them losing track of what they are doing.
Context-sensitive help should only be provided when labels are not enough to describe all functionality that needs to be expressed to the user. This help should be easy for the user to access and obtain when they need it.