A good way to learn about accessibility is through examples and discussions. In this post I will try to translate the WCAG sometimes-hard-to-get rules into a copy-paste real contact form example. You can check the test link, download the code and/or keep reading a bit more.
As I mentioned before, contact forms are in great need of special markup in order to be accessible. And it seems that there’s always room for improvements – in case you have suggestions or your approach is different, I’d love to hear from you.
My suggestion is a simple 4 fields contact form with PHP server side validation. After the user submits the required information the page is reloaded and new messages are displayed depending on the user actions. Of course you all know that the form needs
tag and some sort of validation – everybody is writing about the need to display in an accesible way which fields are required and also the error messages (usually indicating the missing fields) – but few actually offer a simple straightforward code to copy-paste in our sites.
The stylesheet is very light – we have to style the form – but the novelty is a class for the fields that are required and not yet filled. This way after we validate we return the error message with links to the missing fields but we also hightlight them for a more usable and intuitive experience. The PHP part is reading the inputs, checks them and sees if the required ones were filled. A thank you message is displayed in case the user filled all the required fields.
The number of fields can easily be increased but don’t forget to validate them -when someone understands how the form works and which were the accessibility elements that were included then buiding more complex forms becomes just a matter of typing.
Check the Spanish version of this post:
Un básico copia y pega de un formulario de contacto accesible