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Re: which guideline to empty headers go against?

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From: JP Jamous
Date: Nov 21, 2016 4:57PM


We have had the same issue at Best Buy. We have various tools that our E-Commerce department use to generate pages quickly to get the product out on the web. They were not implementing headings properly along with other issues. We were cleaning up over 200 pages a year due to those tools that not only hurt A11Y but SEO as well.

We flagged them as Widgets that were not designed with accessibility in mind. They were sent out to the proper teams and now they are being worked on.

Of course, an automated tool won't catch an empty H2 if it is coded properly. That's why manual evaluation is always recommended even if a tool scans any page.

I would file it as third-party widget that was not designed with accessibility in mind. The SC is 4.1.2 Roles and Features.
http://www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/ensure-compat-rsv.html

If the H2 is showing a color where it is inserted or makes the visual output different, then I'd file it as conveying information using one sense and not multiple senses. Review SC 1.3.3.
http://www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/complete#content-structure-separation-understanding

Specific Benefits of Success Criterion 1.3.3

•People who are blind and people who have low vision may not be able to understand information if it is conveyed by shape and/or location. Providing additional information other than shape and/or location will allow them to understand the information conveyed by shape and/or alone.

If this applies, I would hit them with it. SEO feeds upon headings. What you insert in your heading can rank your page higher or lower. What is that empty H2 doing to the pages? Some search engines might take it as a way to hide information from them. In our case, we worked directly with the SEO team and both teams attached those widgets.

There are all types of ways you can hit your devs on the head. You just have to identify the problem and make a big deal out of it. It can be annoying at times, but stay professional and keep re-enforcing the fact until it gets done. If you can make it a standard of your company's A11Y policy that would even be better. That way it goes into their pattern library.


-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Angela French
Sent: Monday, November 21, 2016 5:33 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] which guideline to empty headers go against?

Our editors are inadvertently inserting them when using our CMS and the built-in accessibility checker (based on a.checker) is not flagging them. I'm trying to communicate with our CMS support person that it should.

Angela French

-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of JP Jamous
Sent: Monday, November 21, 2016 3:29 PM
To: 'WebAIM Discussion List'
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] which guideline to empty headers go against?

It does not violate any WCAG SC, but it is a bad UX. If I reach this with a screen reader and it says nothing, I am going to conclude one of 2 things.

1. Either it has a background image loading from a CSS file Or 2. Some stupid developer forgot it there, which is bad coding.

You can use a couple of level A SC against it.

1. There is an error with the web site code.
2. It was not made with accessibility in mind.

I forgot the exact SC numbers for those but they are both level A SCs.

-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Angela French
Sent: Monday, November 21, 2016 5:21 PM
To: WebAim Forum ( <EMAIL REMOVED> ) < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Subject: [WebAIM] which guideline to empty headers go against?

I have always considered it an accessibility issue for a page to have empty headings such as <h2>&nbsp;</h2>

Does this break any particular guideline?

Angela French
Internet/Intranet Specialist
Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges
360-704-4316
<EMAIL REMOVED> <mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> >
www.sbctc.edu<;http://www.sbctc.edu/>;