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Should I use the HTML title attribute?

People have used the HTML title attribute to achieve a native “tooltip” effect for many years. However accessibility experts have recommended that we should avoid this practice, and here I summarise my research on the topic.

Renowned accessibility solutions provider The Paciello Group recommend the title attribute should almost always be avoided. It causes problems for lots of different usage contexts (keyboard, touch device, screen readers). The only place where I can see that it is still helpful is on iframe. It was beneficial on form inputs in cases where a visible text label would be redundant and we want to provide our control with a programmatically associated label, however we now have aria attributes which do a better job.

So on anything other than iframe the title attribute is undesirable. To back this up, at work my team recently received the following accessibility feedback from Tetralogical when they reviewed one of our tables.

The Edit and Delete links use the title attribute to provide additional context for each link. The title attribute can be unreliable (for example, in testing VoiceOver announces the title in French). Provide additional context using the aria-describedby attribute to reference the name or reference value of the item.

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