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Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements


From: John Foliot
Date: Jun 15, 2009 1:15PM

M Akram Danish wrote:
> can anyone explain this:
> The page should contain no more than two h1 elements.Warn: 18 h1
> were found.
> The text content of each h1 element should match all or part of the
> content.Warn: 18 h1 elements do not meet the criteria.

Explanation: This appears to be generated by the Firefox Accessibility
Toolbar (or perhaps the companion Functional Accessibility Evaluator -
http://fae.cita.uiuc.edu), both created by the Illinois Center for
Information Technology and Web Accessibility
(http://firefox.cita.uiuc.edu/) It is an excellent evaluator tool, and one
that I use often. However, the 'warings' noted by the tool are somewhat
subjective, and they represent the opinion of the toolbar creators.
Originally, multiple H1s were flagged as 'failures', and/but after some
debate, Jon Gunderson and his developer team modified this to be a warning
instead of an outright failure (as well as the requirement that *all*
navigation lists should include a <h> heading as well - again this is now
a warn rather than a fail). Mr. Gunderson and his team have also spent
considerable effort in developing a Best Practices Guide
(http://html.cita.uiuc.edu) which elaborates on their justifications for
the warning(s). In general it is well thought out and a useful document
for all web developers to be aware of - although it is specific in its
title: "iCITA HTML Web Accessibility Best Practices" and that they further

"Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act (IITAA) web
requirements is a hybrid of the Section 508 and W3C Web Content
Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) requirements designed to help state web
masters improve the functional accessibility of their web resources. The
Illinois Functional Accessibility Evaluator and Firefox Accessibility
Extension are free tools to help web developers evaluate their web
resources for use of the best practices. These tools have been recently
updated based changes to the iCITA HTML Best Practices".

As others have pointed out, these warnings are subjective calls on behalf
of the evaluator: Jared noted at least one instance where multiple <h1>s
might co-exist on the same page, and if you stop and think about it, there
may in fact be others... the point is each circumstance is unique and so
blanket calls on evaluations such as these can only be warnings at best -
the tool notes that a condition exists, and then a human brain needs to
evaluate further for a final recommendation.

There have been some bold claims made in this thread, and when making a
claim, I would ask that you back up your assertion with evidence. I would
also note that while instructive web-sites (especially in the area of web
accessibility) are often useful, sometimes their guidance is often
informed by the opinion of their authors, and one needs to be very
critical of claims made based upon lesser known resources: I take W3C
guidance as being significantly more definitive than
www.webpagemistakes.ca (with no offense intended to the author of that
site). As Karl (for one) points out, there is nothing in the current HTML
/ XHTML specification, nor in WCAG 1, WCAG 2, Section 508, etc. that
specifically states that you cannot have multiple <h1>s on a page - there
is some anecdotal evidence that over-gaming <h1>s might get you penalized
with search engines, but I would counter with the notion that if a page
*truly* requires more than one <h1> that it will have a zero-sum effect on
the site's overall SEO.

John  Foliot
Program Manager
Stanford Online Accessibility Program
Stanford University
Tel: 650-862-4603

SOAP is a program directed by the
Vice Provost for Student Affairs