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Re: [EXTERNAL] heading question


From: Steve Green
Date: Dec 16, 2019 4:45AM

I don't think our findings are at odds with the WebAIM survey. Most screen reader users do use headings to navigate, but they don't take much notice of the heading levels except for the <h1>, which they expect to be at the top of the main content. As long as the headings are marked up as a heading of some level, people can find them easily using the H key or the headings list.


-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum < <EMAIL REMOVED> > On Behalf Of Mark Magennis
Sent: 16 December 2019 10:28
To: WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] [EXTERNAL] Re: heading question

Great to hear results from real user testing Steve. Your experience that users rarely take notice of the heading level is really useful information.

It seems a bit at odds with the findings from the latest WebAIM screen reader survey though (note that the WebAIM survey is based on an uncontrolled sample, I don't know about your testing). WebAIM asked "When navigating a web page by headings, how useful are the heading levels (e.g., "Heading 1", "Heading 2", etc.) to you?".

52.2% said heading levels are "Very useful" and 33.9% "Somewhat useful". Only 11% said "Not very useful" or "Not at all useful".

As an aside, I note that the WebAIM survey indicates that use of headings has increased over the years. The numbers of respondents reporting that they use headings as their first approach to finding information on a lengthy page has increased as follows. 2009=50.8%, 2012=60.8%, 2014=65.6%, 2017=67.5%, 2019=68.8% .


Mark Magennis
Skillsoft | mobile: +353 87 60 60 162
Accessibility Specialist

-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum < <EMAIL REMOVED> > On Behalf Of Steve Green
Sent: 15 December 2019 01:47
To: WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Subject: [EXTERNAL] Re: [WebAIM] heading question

Birkir's experience of user testing is exactly the same as mine during hundreds of sessions over 15 years. Even when people use headings to navigate through a page, they rarely take notice of the level. It tends to be the most highly proficient users who take note of the heading levels, so small errors in nesting don't cause them any difficulty.

That said, I think that errors in the heading structure should be limited to occasional skipped levels. That is often unavoidable when pages are built from common components in a CMS. However, it would not be acceptable for subheadings to have a higher level than their parent heading.

Steve Green
Managing Director
Test Partners Ltd

-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum < <EMAIL REMOVED> > On Behalf Of Birkir R. Gunnarsson
Sent: 14 December 2019 23:43
To: WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] heading question

The heading levels need to correspond to the visual weight of the text, which of course can be subjective (what if heading text is the same size but one has an underline or a different color).
Also, while levels are important I think there are sitautions where skipping heading levels is justified.
For instance, if you have a book, its title is an h1, then there is a dedication or author's note that contains a sentence or two of text, then there are individual chapters and sub chapters.
The text author's note should be a heading, but not necessary an h2, it does not mark a chapter in the book, an h3 or h4 is more appropriate and likely more in line with the visual presentation.
These are the exceptions and consecutive heading levels are good practice, but WCAG does not outright require them.
In recent usability testing with a number of screen reader users I've found that very few use heading levels or even pay attention to them much to my surprise. They do look for an h1 heading, but that's about it.

On 12/14/19, David Engebretson Jr. < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
> Howdy!
> Heading structure is one of my main topics in the general
> accessibility presentations I give.
> I always profess their should be 1 heading level 1 on a page (at the
> beginning of the main region) that matches the <title> of the page -
> then the sections of the page should be marked as heading level 2 with
> subsections at heading level 3 and sub-subsections at heading level 4.
> It's not difficult to provide semantic heading structure. It's
> difficult to create the awareness that it is important.
> I think the most difficult aspect, at least for me as a blind
> developer and a11y enthusiast, is to convince sighted developers that
> they can always adjust styling through CSS in a properly formatted
> digital document. CSS is simple but not all sighted folks know how to
> use it. I don't know how to use it either so I'm super empathetic. I
> can't tell if I'm causing text collisions with my styling adjustments.
> It's a bit of a conundrum, no?
> Best,
> David
> -----Original Message-----
> From: WebAIM-Forum < <EMAIL REMOVED> > On Behalf Of
> L Snider
> Sent: Saturday, December 14, 2019 12:51 PM
> To: WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
> Subject: Re: [WebAIM] heading question
> I differ from others, heading order is crucial for me.
> Everyone I know who relies on a screen reader (I don't rely on one)
> has told me this over the years. I know WCAG is different, but in my
> view it is a problem. Think of reading things every day with a screen
> reader, and not knowing what was going on, because the headings were
> totally out of whack.
> After all, I have to ask, why then do headings have numbers in the
> first place?
> I know others will disagree, but I don't call it petty at all.
> Cheers
> Lisa
> On Fri, Dec 13, 2019 at 6:46 PM Tyler Shepard
> wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> I am reviewing a website which has headings. The first heading is an
>> h1, the next is an h3. I feel a bit petty for putting in my notes
>> they should change the heading put it as an h2. It doesn't damage
>> the flow. Am I over reacting over something so small?
>> >> >> archives at http://webaim.org/discussion/archives
>> >>
> > > archives at http://webaim.org/discussion/archives
> >
> > > archives at http://webaim.org/discussion/archives
> >

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