WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

Re: Should site logos be H# tags?


From: Paul Bohman
Date: Nov 16, 2005 7:00PM

Joshue O Connor wrote:

>> Or is this just a really
>> minor issue?
> I think so. Whatever form your structure takes it is important to be
> consistent across your site, so you dont mark up your main headings as
> H1 on some pages and then use it for some other purpose on another.

I would strongly caution against calling semantic markup a "minor
issue." For one thing, authors who use semantic markup in a logical way
are much more likely to create logical documents. This increases
accessibility for everybody, but can be especially important to users
with cognitive disabilities.

It may be true that there is no "one right way" to use headings to
achieve semantic meaning. In that sense this may be a minor issue, but
don't be so quick to dismiss it. You could just as easily say "there is
no one way to write alt text" which is completely true, but to then go
the next step and say, "therefore it is a minor issue" is a gross

My guess is that if you had a group of accessibility "experts" look at a
set of web pages, they would probably come to a reasonable consensus on
how to mark up the document's hierarchy, at least on the big areas of
organization (assuming that the document lends itself to hierarchical

There will be some disagreements of course, largely due to the fact that
we don't have an established convention or protocol or a list of widely
accepted "best practices" yet. For example, some may choose to make the
site's logo an <h1> on every page, with an additional <h1> for the title
of the content. Others would say that there should be only one <h1> and
that the logo should not be an <h1> at all.

Specific issues such as this may be relatively minor, but the overall
idea is not: semantic markup is important. When used properly, it
creates more understandable documents. The headings help assistive
technologies (and search engines, and all other technologies that try to
interpret content) extract meaning from otherwise undifferentiated text.

If we brush aside semantic markup, we are paving the way to brush aside
cognitive disabilities as if they don't matter. The semantic markup does
matter. The hierarchy does matter. The text within headings must be
chosen carefully, in the same way that alt text must be chosen
carefully. The document itself should reflect a logical organization,
and authors should take this into consideration on all levels.

There will be differences of opinion with regard to implementation in
specific instances, but there's nothing wrong with that. That's where
human creativity comes into play.

Paul Bohman
Director of Training Products and Services
WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind)
Utah State University