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


From: Sailesh Panchang
Date: May 2, 2011 10:03AM

Skipping h-levels is indeed a serious problem for non-visual users The
WCAG techniques notes:
"In some technologies, headings are designed to convey logical
hierarchy. Skipping levels in the sequence of headings may create the
impression that the structure of the document has not been properly
thought through or that specific headings have been chosen for their
visual rendering rather than their meaning. Authors are encouraged to
nest headings hierarchically. When headings are nested hierarchically,
the most important information is given the highest
logical level, and subsections are given subsequent logical
levels.(i.e., h2 is a subsection of h1)."
(Note: The above is under H69 which should be merged with H42 because
they are essentially the same technique that serves different
purposes. I have petitioned the WCAG-WG to do this and will be glad if
others second this via public comments process ).

A screen reader user may pause on detecting skipped heading levels,
go back to check if he accidently missed a heading. Or may search for
text that possibly has not been marked up as a heading or has been
rendered as text in an image styled as a heading. A sighted user does
not have to go back to do this because he can see there is no
WCAG 1 checkpoint 3.5 (priority-2) explicitly required headings to be
used as per specs.
Now WCAG 2 SC 1.3.1 is a Level A SC. Headings tags are perhaps the
most significant markup to expose structure and hierarchy. So
headings should not only be used consistently from page to page but
within a section of content, levels should not be skipped.
And why would one want to skip a level ... unless the intent is to
use a heading tag for its visual styling effect?
Léonie says it is not a show stopper. But if it slows me down or
makes me unsure of structure requiring me to perform other navigation
sequences to ensure I have comprehended the structure correctly, I
think it is a serious accessibility issue. And if markup that enhances
accessibility, is browser and AT-supported is being used
haphazardly, then why should developers not be faulted for it?
A counter for the show stopper argument: Screen reader software
accommodates for simple data tables with row/column headings not
marked up as TH or form controls in some situations not associated
with visible text labels. Do these not violate WCAG 2 SC 1.3.1 then?
Sailesh Panchang
On 5/2/11, Will Grignon < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
> I concur. Also, consistency from page to page is crucial - it makes all the
> difference in the world if a screen reader user can devise a navigation
> strategy at the first page and can use this strategy throughout the website
> because every page on that site uses the same formatting conventions.
> One note, however, I've encountered sites that seem to be separated into
> sections, so when one types "1" to find a heading level 1 (I use JAWS
> 12.5...), the screen reader will only look for and try to find a heading
> level 1 in that section and, if none are found, will report the same, even
> though there might be dozens of lines formatted as heading level 1 in other
> sections on the page.
> -----Original Message-----
> [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Léonie Watson
> Sent: Monday, May 02, 2011 11:16 AM
> To: WebAIM Discussion List
> Subject: Re: [WebAIM] H1 to H4 titles sub titles....
> 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.
> Regards,
> Léonie.
> --
> Nomensa - humanising technology
> Léonie Watson, Director of Accessibility & Web Development
> tel: +44 (0)117 929 7333
> twitter: @we_are_Nomensa
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> -----Original Message-----
> [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....
> Hi,
> 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,
> Nancy