I have a form with some read-only fields depending on the customer role. As a rule, I use read-only fields for those inputs.

Are there problems with this approach using an assistive technology?

Are there any other problems or benefits?

  • I just know, when I see such disabled fields they somehow disappoint me. When they look like labels I don't even thing about the values I'm forbidden to enter.
    – K..
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 11:29
  • Can you share a little more background information? Why are those particular fields read only? Why are the fields visible at all?
    – Matt Obee
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 11:46
  • 1
    disable and read only are different attributes. The attributes are read only because the user's role is not allow to change those fields (I check that in business layer) Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 12:02
  • So the user needs to be able to see the data in those read-only fields? I ask because I wonder if they could be hidden completely to avoid confusion.
    – Matt Obee
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 12:16

1 Answer 1


The problem with read-only text and accessibility arises from the the way the screen readers interact with forms in Web pages.

If you use an unattached form label, or an element that is not inside a form, the browser won't see it. But when a screen reader encounters a form it switches into “forms mode.” In this mode the screen reader will only read the form input elements and any corresponding labels. If additional plain text is inserted between two form elements, the screen reader will skip over the plain text and go directly to the next form input field.

So the right way to go is to use form elements.

These might be of help:

  • I agree with Yisela, and would just add that while you should use form elements, you can style them differently to indicate that they are not editable (e.g. remove the border from text boxes). Commented Feb 6, 2013 at 3:11

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