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


From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: May 2, 2011 10:12AM

Nancy Johnson wrote:

> 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?

Comments in this discussion have included good points - basically, jumping
from H1 to H4 is not good for accessibility but it is a relatively small
problem - but as you mention specifically 508, I think it is important to
ask whether the question is about
a) Section 508 conformance
b) impact on screen readers
c) accessibility in general.
Three very different issues, though they are of course related.

Section 508 conformance is about a fairly small set of rules*), formulated
with the intent of making them operationally defined, so that one can
objectively decide in a rather straightforward manner whether the rules are
complied with or not. Something you need when you wish to set up rules that
have legal force. The other side of the matter is that the rules cover just
a small (though important) fraction of accessibility issues.

I cannot see anything in Section 508 rules that would regulate the use of
headings. The clause that comes closest is "(d) Documents shall be organized
so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet." Jumping
to h4 is problematic in non-CSS rendering, as the browser can be expected to
treat h4 as fourth-level heading. In graphic browsers, the default (non-CSS)
rendering of h4 is a block of text, with empty line before and after, with
the same font size as copy text, but in bold. Contrasted with the common
200% default size for h1, this may paint a wrong picture about the levels of
the headings.

But the document is still readable despite this, so I don't think we can say
that (d) is violated. The underlying ideas might be seen as suggesting that
skipping from h1 to h4 is not a good move, but this does not mean a
violation of the specific rule.