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Re: Accessible P Tag Usage


From: Tim Harshbarger
Date: Mar 18, 2019 10:17AM

My personal opinion is that it is not a requirement for text to be contained in at least a paragraph element. My thinking is that a paragraph element conveys that its contents are all part of a paragraph--and that might not be the information or relationship that the content author wants to convey.

This is definitely a good question since it shows you are trying not to make assumptions--and it is always good to think about our assumptions.

Thanks for asking this question.

Tim Harshbarger
Senior Accessibility Consultant
Deque Systems

-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum < <EMAIL REMOVED> > On Behalf Of Peter Shikli
Sent: Saturday, March 16, 2019 5:06 PM
To: WebAIM Forum < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Subject: [WebAIM] Accessible P Tag Usage

Access2online audits webpages and electronic documents for compliance with WCAG and Section 508. As our understanding of WCAG has deepened and evolved, several times we have been confronted with the situation where one section of the guideline implies or directly contradicts another section or another resource such as WAVE, AXE, or Deque training materials. We often seem to be too strict interpreting the guidelines related to 1.3.1. Much of guideline would certainly improve usability, but we are aware of the difference between accessibility and usability.
We would like input from the accessibility community about what to do when such a situation arises as in the following examples.

The 1.3.1 Info and Relationships states "Information, structure, and relationships conveyed through presentation can be programmatically determined or are available in text." Further in the "Understanding SC 1.3.1" it says "When such relationships are perceivable to one set of users, those relationships can be made to be perceivable to all."
Looking at specific failure conditions, F43 tells us that structural markup cannot be used in a way that does not represent relationship in the content. Then G115 says:

"... Using the appropriate semantic elements will make sure the structure is available to the user agent. This involves explicitly indicating the role that different units have in understanding the meaning of the content. The nature of a piece of content as a paragraph, header, emphasized text, table, etc. can all be indicated in this way. ..."

The strictest interpretation of these items is that it is required that relationships in content are programmatically available, including content "... such as a paragraph ...". Is this to be taken as saying text should, at a minimum, programmatically be a <p> tag, unless there is a more appropriate structural tag?

We are aware that the sufficient techniques do not constitute required ways of doing things, so we are hesitant to violate a customer based on the suggested ways of meeting the criteria. However, when a failure condition says content must be semantically appropriate, then a sufficient technique lists paragraphs as appropriate semantics for text content, this implies that if text content is not in a <p> or a more appropriate tag (like headings, lists, etc.) it is not making the relationship/information about the text "available to all users."

On the flip side, what about including an empty <p> tag with no text content, or only an image?

Our concern arises from the fact that AXE and WAVE do not violate text content which is not included in a <p> or other semantically appropriate tag and the Deque curriculum says very little about semantics that is not addressing tables, headings and the like.
Deque/AXE suggests that having free-floating text included in an HTML5/ARIA landmark is a minimal "best practice". What is the community opinion on quandaries like this?

Peter Shikli
on behalf of inmate Juliette McShane