Making Digital Forms Compatible with Screen Readers

Working with Universal Design on digital platforms ensures accessibility for a broader group of consumers. Following Web Content Accessibility Guidelines avoids consumer frustration and the potential risk of legal action for the business. It also broadens your market reach.

Many blind and visually impaired people use screen readers to access digital platforms. Implementing screen reader compatibility into these platforms creates a smoother experience for these users.

Interactive forms that can be filled out online work best. However, not all interactive electronic forms are accessible. Washington University states the two key things to keep in mind when creating interactive PDF forms are:

  1. Labels and prompts must be explicitly associated with the fields they represent. Otherwise, screen reader users may be unable to determine what labels and prompts belong to what fields.
  2. The tab order must be logical. Screen readers typically navigate the keyboard with the tab key. Ensuring proper tab sequences helps users determine where they are in a form.

Digital forms are used for almost everything these days. Developers should consider screen reader compatibility from the beginning. Some best practices for digital form creation from Innovation Studios include:

  • A set of input fields within a form should be grouped by fieldset elements if they are related.
  • Do not use auto-advance.
  • Do not rearrange the order of the form or inputs with CSS.
  • Present only one or two inputs per line.
  • Ensure color-contrasts ratios and typography are accessible.
  • Each fieldset should have a legend element directly under the first fieldset tag that describes the grouping.
  • Every input element in the form should have a related hybrid or explicit label.
  • Submission buttons should have a clear, actionable label.

All form fields need clear, descriptive labels for buttons, boxes, links, etc. Without a clear label, screen reader users cannot identify a function or field. If something is required for the form, provide the actual term “required” along with an asterisk (*).

Outlook Business Solutions provides accessibility testing for organizations and companies. Skilled technicians test various aspects of your online/digital platforms—including your forms—and provide suggestions you can implement to ensure your content meets with ADA and WCAG guidelines.

Learn more about why equal access to your website and mobile app is so important in the white paper you can download from the website.