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Accessible (508) HTML Forms

Document Type: Standard


HHS web forms must be Section 508 compliant, ensuring that:

  •   Assistive technology devices will read the form in same order it is meant to be filled in.
  •   The relationship between the form field and the form title must be clear.
  •   The form is navigable via the keyboard with or without assistive technology.
  •   Forms must be laid out using either Explicit Labels or through the use of tables.
  •   Defined tab order, using the “Tabindex” attribute, is acceptible but not required. 


The compliant form will provide persons using assistive technologies the ability to interpret information and navigate the form functionality required for the completion and submission of the form. Forms using explicit labels or table layouts will associate the form fields with the titles for users of assistive technology.

The document structure should be used to determine the navigation of the form fields. The use of TabIndex and AccessKeys sometimes present barriers to assistive technologies.  A well defined document structure eliminates the need for AccessKeys and TabIndex attributes.


There are three acceptable methods that may be used when creating HTML forms:

  • Use the title attribute to provide identify the input for the form field. 
  • Using Explicit Labels:  Explicit labels include the “for” attribute in the “Label” element and the “Id” attribute in the “Input” element. 
  • Using Implicit Labels:  Implicit Labels use tables for form layout, both the title and the form field must be in the same table cell. 

The document structure should be used to define the navigation of form fields whenever possible.