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Re: H1 to H4 titles sub titles....


From: Léonie Watson
Date: May 2, 2011 9:24AM

Nancy Johnson wrote:
"The heading on one page goes from an H1 designation to an H4 designation, Will this be a problem for screen readers?"

It isn't a show stopper if they don't, but it's enormously helpful if they do. Headings fulfil two useful functions for screen reader users. They provide a mechanism for navigation, and they help build up a mental map of content structure.

With most current screen readers you can jump from one heading on the page to another using a shortcut key. It's something like visually scanning the page to find the right section, before exploring in more detail.

The heading levels aren't crucial for navigating through a page in this way, but they are helpful in terms of building a mental map of the content structure. Knowing how different sections of content relate to each other helps make the process of navigating by headings much more successful.

For example, a page might have multiple h2 headings, each followed by a number of h3 headings. If I moved to the first h2 with Jaws and it wasn't the section I was looking for,, I could use a short cut key that would take me directly to the next h2 (bypassing all the h3 headings in between). If the headings weren't nested logically, I wouldn't be able to take advantage of this, and would instead need to use the standard heading navigation key to move through every heading on the page.

The page you've described has a very simple heading structure, so all of this may not be as pertinent as it would be on other pages. Coming to the page as a screen reader user though, I'd be asking what relationship the h4 section had to the main (h1) area of the page? The headings still let me navigate through the content, but they don't make as much useful information available about the structure of the content as they could do.


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Léonie Watson, Director of Accessibility & Web Development

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-----Original Message-----
From: <EMAIL REMOVED> [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Nancy Johnson
Sent: 02 May 2011 15:25
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: [WebAIM] H1 to H4 titles sub titles....


We are producing a site and part of my job is to see if the htmls and frontend javascript jquery the design company provided is 508.

The heading on one page goes from an H1 designation to an H4 designation,

Will this be a problem for screen readers?

Thanks in advance,