Can't I tab through radio buttons?
February 6, 2008 7:30 AM   Subscribe

Building a PDF form. Radio buttons getting skipped when tabbing through fields.

I'm building a PDF form for a client. I'm using Acrobat Pro 6 ( hate) The form includes several sets of Radio buttons. I've set each set of buttons up in the usual manner...Each radio button in the set has the same name, but different values.

Testing the form in Acrobat Pro, everything works fine. You can tab sequentially through all the fields. When it comes to the Radio Buttons, tabbing highlights through each button in order. No problems.

However, testing the same form in Reader 7 presents some odd behavior. You can still tab from field-to-field. However, when you tab to a set of Radio Buttons, the first button in the set gets highlighted (as it should). But, tabbing again does not move focus to the next button in the set. Instead, tabbing jumps your focus directly to the next form object immediately following the set of tabs. In short, you can't tab within a set of Radio Buttons.

I've discovered that, when you've tabbed to the first button in a set, if you switch to your arrow keys, you can navigate within the set. However, using the arrow key also acts as the "Return" key and selects whichever button you have focus on.

Now, it's been awhile since I built (or used) a PDF form, but I don't recall this "must switch to arrow keys" thing in order to navigate through a Radio Button set. Am I hallucinating, or shouldn't one be able to tab through radio button sets? Having to switch to the arrow buttons is horribly non-intuitive and is likely to frustrate a good many users, for whom this form is intended.

Any clues as to how I can get this working the way I want would be greatly appreciated.
Alternately, a dope-slap and a "that's the way it is." will be humbly accepted.
posted by Thorzdad to Technology (4 answers total)
It's just an implementation difference. I think that there are web browsers that handle radio buttons in each of those ways.
posted by toomuchpete at 8:25 AM on February 6, 2008

You should be able to set the tab order, but I guess I have only really worked with Acrobat 8 Pro.

Did you try and set the Tab order Specifically?
posted by Amby72 at 8:57 AM on February 6, 2008

Response by poster: Tab order seems to be working correctly. It's simply the fact that tabbing skips all but the first button in a set. ALL the radio button sets are being treated this way in Acrobat Reader (no browsers).
posted by Thorzdad at 9:23 AM on February 6, 2008

I think the new behavior in version 7 is the more standard behavior. I do a lot of accessibility work for blind users and the tab to group of radio buttons, then use arrow keys to select the button is what I would expect in a standard application. The reasoning behind this is that if you tab through the radio buttons, the selection on the radio button changes to the current button. For a blind user, tabbing through the form would always leave the last button selected. If you are moving focus to radio buttons and they are not being selected, this is non-standard behavior.

Also, if you don't want to change the radio button setting, hitting tab automatically moves you to the next group of radio buttons, making page navigation quicker.

You might try changing the radio buttons to check boxes, but I don't know what to do if you want to force only one selection in the list.
posted by rsclark at 6:45 AM on February 7, 2008

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