Our series on the new WCAG 2.1 Success Criteria continues with the new success criteria focused on cognitive accessibility. This post will review 1.3.5 Identify Input Purpose. It falls under guideline 1.3, Adaptable.
Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
1.3.5 Identify Input Purpose (Level AA)
The purpose of each input field collecting information about the user can be programmatically determined when:
- The input field serves a purpose identified in the Input Purposes for User Interface Components section; and
- The content is implemented using technologies with support for identifying the expected meaning for form input data.
The basic premise is to make it easier for people to complete input fields requesting personal information. People with mobility issues have difficulty entering data into the fields. People with cognitive disabilities may have difficulty remembering details. It may be hard for them to enter personal information due to memory loss, dyslexia, or other impairments. For some users, a browser extension or assistive technology software could use the purpose to change or enhance the interface. For example, it may show a picture of the user to represent the name or a symbol of a house for the address fields.
Most browsers today recognize well labeled input fields corresponding to name and address. If the user allows the browser to autofill and stores personal information in the settings, the browser will suggest values to complete the fields. This makes entering data faster and more accurate by eliminating typing errors. Everyone benefits.
The video below shows a form with unconventional field names. This form could have been auto-generated and used the field names and ids from a database. I have enabled autofill in my Chrome settings. When I mouse over the fields in the first form without autocomplete, Chrome does not offer to complete the form. In the second form with the same field names I have added the autocomplete attribute on the fields and Chrome offers to enter the data.
People who have difficulty completing forms requesting personal data will benefit. This may be due to cognitive or mobility impairments. Everyone benefits when they can save time and eliminate typing or spelling errors.
Developers should use autocomplete on fields that collect personal data to explicitly identify the data type. Use the list of Input Purposes for User Interface Components to select the correct value. Turn off autocomplete for sensitive information.