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Re: Question about use of headings on major news sites


From: adam solomon
Date: Aug 29, 2010 5:18AM

To the extent that wcag isn't implemented it is that much more difficult to navigate. The most basic (and simplest) accessibility feature to implement is headers. This way, the screen reader can give a sneak preview about the page (by the user listing all the headers) and thus give him half a chance to know what to expect. News outlets don't implement wcag for one simple reason - they don't have to legally. They don't want to invest money for a small number of screen reader users. The only thing that will change that is bad PR - the more it is pointed out publicly the greater chance of change. Extra emphasis should be given to have a header for each section of the page.

> Date: Fri, 27 Aug 2010 13:01:18 -0500
> Subject: [WebAIM] Question about use of headings on major news sites
> I am trying to establish best practices for our corporate website, and
> thought I would give some extra emphasis to the use of headings. Different
> opinions exist about whether it matters not to skip from <h1> headings to
> <h3> headings, but content management systems often cause this non-linear
> structure.
> I figured I'd take a look at how the big news outlets structure their sites
> to get some inspiration. However, I am rather surprised at the rather
> chaotic use of headings, and it looks to me as if it would be very difficult
> for screen reader users to navigate any of those sites.
> For example, the Wall Street Journal homepage at
> http://online.wsj.com/home-page. Is it even possible for a screen reader
> user to find out what the featured news story is? Then, when you start
> reading an article, it never has any headings (since all headings seem to be
> used up for structuring the page's content areas as distinct sections.) This
> seems to be common practice (I checked cnn.com, nyt.com, time.com) - no
> sub-headings within articles.
> Foxnews.com was the only news site I found that at least sometimes uses
> headings in their articles for sighted users. The headings, however, are not
> marked up as such. Example: Current fox news cover story at:
> http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/08/27/katrina-years-hurricane-devastated-political-futures-new-orleans/
> .
> My question is, how easy or frustrating is it for screen reader users to
> navigate any of these news sites? And why don't newspapers use any headings
> in general within articles, even if the articles are long? I guess they want
> the readers to read the entire article rather than skipping through it?
> Thank you,
> Margit