- There is no accessible, standards-compliant way to code radio buttons in XHTML, because the
labelassociation mechanism conflicts with
idattributes in radio buttons.
- Replace the radio buttons with a
Form elements create key-value pairs through the use of
valueattributes. The form is serialized as an ampersand-delimited string of fields, where each field takes the form of
value. This is fine for text input fields and checkboxes, which have a single-source structure in the HTML. However, radio buttons present a special problem. Each radio button in a group has the same
nameand a different
value, indicating that they are the possible values a field can take.
labeldepends on the
idof the form element with which it is associated, as well as the requirement that the
idnot differ on an element.
<label for="address">Address</label> <input type="text" id="address" name="address" value="" />
How, then, does one code radio buttons with labels? Since all the radio buttons in a set will need the same
name, each element with a label will need an
id, and the
idmust match the
name, the radio buttons will have identical
ids. This is not in compliance with the W3 specifications, however, leading some web designers to choose accessiblity over compliance by appending an index digit to the
idof each radio button.
There are further accessiblity issues that I will not explore here, such as visibility of the radio button itself, association of a label with the entire radio set, and visual interference between multiple radio sets.
A better solution is to scrap the radio buttons altogether in favor of the
selectelement. The dropdown list is far more accessible, supports internal grouping of options, and consumes less real estate, yet preserves the data structure of the radio buttons.
- Alternatives to radio buttons: How to decide on a solution and refactor the associated text.