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Requirement •  Explanation •  Tutorial

Accessibility Initiative

Section 508 Requirement

(n) Forms:
When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues.

Explanation 

Forms that are submittable via the Internet need to be accessible for all visitors to a site. Sighted individuals typically do not have problems with online forms. Low vision and blind users, on the other hand, can be significantly challenged by a poorly created form.

Important things to remember:

  • Labels and form fields need to be close to each other. 
    Screen magnification software and the use of personal font sizes can cause screen layouts to be interrupted. When the label (ex. First Name) and the form field (ex. a text box) are not close to one another, the low vision user may become confused.
  • The form tab order must be logical.
    To prevent visitors from becoming disoriented or unable to navigate the form properly, be sure that there is a logical order applied to the tab indexes of the form. To easily check the tab order of a form, open the form in a browser and begin hitting the "Tab" key until the "Submit" button is reached.

Tutorial 

To set the form tab order in FrontPage or Expression: 
1. From within the form body, choose Insert/Form and select the appropriate form field type.

form field drop down menu screen shot

2. Once the form field has been inserted, select it and right click on it. Choose "Form Field Properties" from the pop up menu. In the form field properties dialog box, you will see an area for setting the "Tab order."

form field properties popup menu

3. In the form field properties dialog box, you will see an area for setting the "Tab order." Identify the tab stop by number here. Be sure that the fields are consecutively numbered, then click "OK."

form field properties box

Due to the complexity of forms, please visit WebAIM's Creating Accessible Forms Tutorial for detailed assistance.

For those authors with Webs on Ektron's CMS, refer to the pdf tutorial.

For your convenience, you may also wish to download a printer-friendly Section 508 checklist (pdf).
For additional assistance with this requirement, send an email to accessibility@winthrop.edu.

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