Techniques for WCAG 2.0

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H84: Using a button with a select element to perform an action



This technique relates to:


The objective of this technique is to allow the user to control when an action is performed, rather than having the action occur as a side effect of choosing a value for the select element. The user may inspect the different values of the select element, or may accidentally choose the wrong value, without causing the action to occur. When the user is satisfied with their choice, they select the button to perform the action.

This is particularly important for users who are choosing the value of the select element via the keyboard, since navigating through the options of the select element changes the value of the control.


Example 1: A Calendar

A Web page lets the user choose any month of any year and display the calendar for that month. After the user has set the month and year, he displays the calendar by pressing the "Show" button. This example relies on client-side scripting to implement the action.

Example Code:

<label for="month">Month:</label>
<select name="month" id="month">
  <option value="1">January</option>
  <option value="2"> February</option>
  <option value="12">December</option>
<label for="year">Year:</label>
<input type="text" name="year" id="year">
<input type="button" value="Show" onclick = "...">

Example 2: Choosing an action

A select element contains a list of possible actions. The action is not performed until the user presses the "Do it" button.

Example Code:

<form action="" method="post">
  <label for="action">Options:</label>
  <select name="action" id="action">
    <option value="help">Help</option>
    <option value="reset">Reset</option>
    <option value="submit">Submit</option>
  <button type="submit" name="submit" value="submit">Do It </button>


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For each select element/button element combination:

  1. Check that focus (including keyboard focus) on an option in the select element does not result in any actions

  2. Check that selecting the button performs the action associated with the current select value

Expected Results

If this is a sufficient technique for a success criterion, failing this test procedure does not necessarily mean that the success criterion has not been satisfied in some other way, only that this technique has not been successfully implemented and can not be used to claim conformance.