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Online forms have become integral to our daily lives in today’s increasingly digital world. From job applications to healthcare registrations, we rely on them for critical daily choices. However, forms often lack digital accessibility, resulting in unnecessary and frustrating UX barriers for people with various disabilities.
Ensuring digital accessibility helps you meet critical regulatory compliance, but it’s also about inclusivity and equal opportunities for everyone. Fortunately, you came to the right place to create accessible web forms for any business.
Let’s begin with a deeper exploration of why digital forms must be accessible.
The Critical Importance of Accessible Web Forms
Accessible online form design refers to making forms usable by people with disabilities, ensuring they can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the content effectively. Below, we look at four primary reasons to offer accessible online forms:
1. Inclusivity and Equal Opportunity
Digitally accessible forms are pivotal in providing equal access and opportunities for all. When designed with inclusivity, these forms empower disabled people to participate in essential activities such as job applications, educational enrollments, and government services.
2. Legal and Ethical Obligations
Several countries have legal requirements mandating digital accessibility. For instance, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States emphasizes equal access to public services, including online content. Non-compliance risks legal repercussions and goes against ethical principles of inclusivity.
3. Enhanced User Experience for All
Interestingly, the features that make forms accessible often improve the user experience for everyone. Clear layouts, concise instructions, and well-structured forms benefit all users, not just those with disabilities. A user-friendly form is more efficient and less frustrating for everyone.
4. Elevated Website Performance
When you make your website assets more accessible, you invite a broader audience to engage with and purchase your products and services online.
Digital Forms: The Challenges and Advantages
Here are some common obstacles and ways you can overcome them:
- Technical Hurdles: Designing accessible web forms involves vital technical aspects that ensure compatibility with screen readers, using proper HTML markup, and creating adaptable layouts. However, numerous resources and standards, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), are available to assist in creating accessible forms. Below, we look at key challenges and benefits:
- Educational Barriers: There’s often a lack of awareness and understanding regarding digital accessibility. Many form designers and developers may need to be better versed in inclusive design principles. Educating and training designers in these principles is essential to overcoming this barrier.
- Continual Maintenance: Creating accessible forms is an ongoing commitment. Regular checks and updates are crucial as technology evolves and standards advance. An accessible form today might become inaccessible with an update or a change in the web environment. Beyond meeting legal requirements, investing in digitally accessible online forms offers a range of benefits:
Primary benefits of form accessibility include:
- Wider Audience Reach: Digital accessibility widens your target audience, including people using different devices, older adults, individuals with situational disabilities, and those with temporary impairments.
- Positive Brand Image: An organization prioritizing inclusivity is committed to serving diverse populations, often a determining factor for potential customers or employees.
- Innovation and Creativity: Designing for accessibility often fuels innovation. It challenges designers to think creatively, leading to better, more efficient, and user-friendly interfaces. It can spark new ideas and approaches, benefitting the entire user community.
10 Tips For Accessible Digital Forms
Digital forms should be accessible to everyone, and the tips below point you in the right direction.
1. Provide Easy-To-Understand Content
Use simple, everyday language with just enough details for end users to know where they are and where to go next.
2. Use Basic Templates
Don’t muddle your forms with unnecessary imagery and complicated formatting. And provide proper color-contrast ratios between text and background to simplify readability and navigation.
3. Make Navigation Predictable
Consistent navigation is the key for people with various disabilities and a better UX for people of all abilities.
4. Simplify Question Formats
Minimize grids, tables, and dropdowns that overwhelm the eyes.
5. Ensure Effective Form Labels
Screen readers identify code labels so users can easily navigate fields, links, and buttons.
6. Don’t Use CAPTCHA
screen readers cannot read these codes at all, and the audio option may not work for those with hearing impairments.
7. Don’t Use Color To Show Error Messages
This approach doesn’t work for colorblind people.
8. Save Users’ Answers
Don’t make users start the form over if they make a mistake. Saving answers will keep users on your site and help them see their errors to avoid them in the future.
9. Make Forms Work On Mobile
People increasingly use smartphones for web navigation, so your forms must be accessible on mobile devices.
10. Confirm Successful Form Submissions
Use bigger, bolder fonts to tell users they successfully submitted forms. Offer additional information on resources or next steps if needed.
Form Accessibility: A Big Step in the Right Direction
Creating digitally accessible online forms isn’t just a compliance checkbox to mark. It’s a fundamental ingredient in a more inclusive and equitable online world. And it’s just one part of the bigger picture. By prioritizing accessibility in all digital assets, we can help everyone equally participate and contribute.
Investing in digital accessibility also drives advancement and adoption, which helps your business succeed. That’s because integrating assistive technology enhances your UX for all end users. And a superior UX enables you to attract and retain more satisfied end users, bolstering website performance and contributing to your bottom line. Ultimately, we should all strive to create an environment where digital interactions are welcoming and usable for people of all abilities. Offering form accessibility is one big step in the right direction.
UserWay: Supporting The Many Forms of Digital Accessibility
Accessibility covers a wide range of requirements and needs. Look no further than UserWay. From AI-powered tools to compliance guidance and legal support, UserWay is your all-in-one accessibility and compliance solution.
Explore your options today.
Answers to Common FAQs
What Makes a Form Accessible?
Accessible forms are easy to understand, complete, and submit. It should be simple for users to identify Instructions, cues, required form fields, and field formatting requirements.
Can Fillable Forms Be Digitally Accessible?
Yes. Users of different abilities can fill these forms with a mouse, keyboard, voice recognition software, screen readers, braille displays, and more.
How Do You Check a Form for Accessibility?
- Ensure a logical information hierarchy.
- Provide clear field labels and instructions.
- Integrate keyboard navigation.
- Provide an intuitive tab order.
- Ensure each field is easily identifiable.
- Make user errors easy to spot and fix.