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Re: controlling a CMS for access


From: Rick Hill
Date: Aug 28, 2013 1:19PM


Unfortunately as far as headings go, under WCAG 2, any skipped levels will generate at best a warning from any tool. The reason? Under WCAG 2 AA, there are two ways to view headings.

1. The entire page can be organized top down as in an outline. If that is the case, then the first element on the page is an H1, the next is an H1 or H2. If its anb H2, the next element can be an H3 or an H2. And so on. No levels skipped.
2. The elements of the page are labelled for their semantic importance. So on a three column layout, the left and right columns are not the primary content. The center column is. So, the center column gets and H1 and the top of the two side columns end up with an H2. In the reading order, these will appear H2, H1, H2 … thus skipping a level at the top. If the left column has additional heading labels relative to starting H2 at the top of the column, it could be that the last element in the column is an H3 (or H4 or …). Which would make the reading order H2, H3, H1, H2

In fact, even in scenario 1, you could end up with a skip in heading order. Beneath the starting H1 I have an H2 that contains an h3 with sub H4's. The next H2 then would skip a level .. H1, H2, H3, H4, H4, H3, H4, H4, H2

Realistically, Web pages aren't laid out like outlines. HTML 5 tries to account for that by adding additional tags like article, section and aside. Each of these can contain its own heading arrangement. So, its not clear that that helps or not. Plus, AT browsers don't well support some of these newer tags.

We struggle with this in our Web CMS as well. If folks have flexibility to create content, then they can mislabel headings. It is not clear that headings can be "fixed" automatically (we're looking at that). And given the two mod3els the WCAG allows for the use of headings, we thing number 2 makes more sense.
Rick Hill, Web CMS Administrator
Strategic Communications, UC Davis
(530) 752-9612