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Introduction To Form Controls

Forms are a way for websites to get infomation from you. Forms are made up of fields.

Form fields are made up of two parts. There is the label and the control. The label is the text, usually above or to the left of the control, that tells you what information the website wants you to enter in the control. Sometimes you will see a field label "Name." This tells you that you should put your name in the control. Sometimes it might say "First Name" to let you know that it only wants your first name in this field. A label that says "Email" wants your email address, etc.

Using Form Controls

In order to put information into a form control, you need to enter what NVDA calls "Focus Mode." To do this, you will hit caps + space bar. This is also how you get out of focus mode and back into your normal reading mode, which NVDA calls "Browse Mode." NVDA uses sound effects to let you know which mode you are in. When you go into focus mode, you will hear a high pitched beep with a click. To turn focus mode off and go back to browse mode, hit caps+spacebar. You will then hear a plain beep that is lower in tone. This lets you know you are back in browse mode. Try it out on the edit field below. When NVDA says "edit", hit caps+spacebar once to turn focus mode on and then again to turn it off.


Remember, each field will collect a diferent piece of information. Controls will be different types depending on the type of information they are trying to collect. This is what we are talking about when we talk about form control types. Let's start with the most basic type of control: the button.


Buttons are used to submit a form to a website. You hit enter on a button to click it. Often if you hit enter on a webpage, it will find the default button and click it. This isn't good if you hit enter accidentally as it will submit your form before you are ready. So you want to be careful not to accidentally hit the enter button. Here are some sample buttons:

Now here are a few more examples. You'll notice one of these buttons is unavailable. This means it can't be pressed. Usually this happens when your form is still missing information. You'll notice another one of these is a graphic. This functions the same way as a plain text button.

Edit Boxes

Edit boxes are empty rectangles that you type into. When your screen reader says "Edit", that means it found one of these empty rectangles. Most of the time, these fields will let you enter any information that you want. Somtimes there will be a limit on the number of characters you can enter in a field. You will notice that the zip code field below will only let you enter five characters.Here are some examples of common form fields that use an edit control:




Zip Code:

Sometimes NVDA will say "edit protected." This means that the edit fields will hide the letters you are typing and say "star" in order to keep what you are typing secret. This is most often used when you are entering a password. Try typing in the sample password field below.


Another type of edit field is a multi-line edit field. This is a large area where you can enter lots of text. It is often used on web sites where you are asking for technical support. Here is an example:

What issue are you having?

So that is an introduction to edit fields. Click on the link below to practice using edit fields.Take me to a practice form