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Thread: which guideline to empty headers go against?

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From: Angela French
Date: Mon, Nov 21 2016 4:20PM
Subject: which guideline to empty headers go against?
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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 ADDRESS REMOVED = <mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
www.sbctc.edu<;http://www.sbctc.edu/>;

From: JP Jamous
Date: Mon, Nov 21 2016 4:28PM
Subject: Re: which guideline to empty headers go against?
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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 ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of Angela French
Sent: Monday, November 21, 2016 5:21 PM
To: WebAim Forum ( = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ) < = EMAIL ADDRESS 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 ADDRESS REMOVED = <mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
www.sbctc.edu<;http://www.sbctc.edu/>;

From: Angela French
Date: Mon, Nov 21 2016 4:32PM
Subject: Re: which guideline to empty headers go against?
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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 ADDRESS 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 ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of Angela French
Sent: Monday, November 21, 2016 5:21 PM
To: WebAim Forum ( = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ) < = EMAIL ADDRESS 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 ADDRESS REMOVED = <mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
www.sbctc.edu<;http://www.sbctc.edu/>;

From: JP Jamous
Date: Mon, Nov 21 2016 4:57PM
Subject: Re: which guideline to empty headers go against?
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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 ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of Angela French
Sent: Monday, November 21, 2016 5:33 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List < = EMAIL ADDRESS 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 ADDRESS 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 ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of Angela French
Sent: Monday, November 21, 2016 5:21 PM
To: WebAim Forum ( = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ) < = EMAIL ADDRESS 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 ADDRESS REMOVED = <mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
www.sbctc.edu<;http://www.sbctc.edu/>;

From: Jonathan Cohn
Date: Mon, Nov 21 2016 8:42PM
Subject: Re: which guideline to empty headers go against?
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Sounds like a bad practice, but how do the screen readers treat these?

Best wishes,

Jonathan



> On Nov 21, 2016, at 6:20 PM, Angela French < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:
>
> 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 ADDRESS REMOVED = <mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
> www.sbctc.edu<;http://www.sbctc.edu/>;
>
> > > >

From: Bim Egan
Date: Tue, Nov 22 2016 1:40AM
Subject: Re: which guideline to empty headers go against?
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I'd say this is a definite fail of SC 2.4.6: Headings and labels describe
topic or purpose, [1]. No text content means no description.

Empty headings probably also fail SC1.3.1 Info and Relationships [2] check
out Failure Technique F43: Failure of Success Criterion 1.3.1 due to using
structural markup in a way that does not represent relationships in the
content [3]

HTH,

Bim
[1] - SC2.4.6 (Level AA)
http://www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/navigation-mechanisms-descriptive.
html
[2] - SC1.3.1 (Level A)
http://www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/content-structure-separation-progr
ammatic.html
[3] - Technique F43
http://www.w3.org/TR/2016/NOTE-WCAG20-TECHS-20161007/F43

-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum [mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf
Of Angela French
Sent: 21 November 2016 23:33
To: WebAIM Discussion List
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 ADDRESS 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 ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf
Of Angela French
Sent: Monday, November 21, 2016 5:21 PM
To: WebAim Forum ( = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = )
< = EMAIL ADDRESS 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 ADDRESS REMOVED = <mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
www.sbctc.edu<;http://www.sbctc.edu/>;

http://webaim.org/discussion/archives
http://webaim.org/discussion/archives
http://webaim.org/discussion/archives
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From: Patrick H. Lauke
Date: Tue, Nov 22 2016 1:53AM
Subject: Re: which guideline to empty headers go against?
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On 22/11/2016 09:40, Bim Egan wrote:
> I'd say this is a definite fail of SC 2.4.6: Headings and labels describe
> topic or purpose, [1]. No text content means no description.

If the page is understandable without that empty heading (which I'd
assume is the case, if these headings are accidentally created), then
I'd say it's a pass here.

> Empty headings probably also fail SC1.3.1 Info and Relationships [2] check
> out Failure Technique F43: Failure of Success Criterion 1.3.1 due to using
> structural markup in a way that does not represent relationships in the
> content [3]

Yes, I'd agree it certainly fails 1.3.1 (this is where I normally flag
empty headings in audits).

P
--
Patrick H. Lauke

www.splintered.co.uk | https://github.com/patrickhlauke
http://flickr.com/photos/redux/ | http://redux.deviantart.com
twitter: @patrick_h_lauke | skype: patrick_h_lauke

From: Jonathan Avila
Date: Tue, Nov 22 2016 8:35AM
Subject: Re: which guideline to empty headers go against?
← Previous message | Next message →

> Yes, I'd agree it certainly fails 1.3.1 (this is where I normally flag empty headings in audits).

I'd generally agree with this as well.

Jonathan



-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum [mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of Patrick H. Lauke
Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 3:54 AM
To: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] which guideline to empty headers go against?



On 22/11/2016 09:40, Bim Egan wrote:
> I'd say this is a definite fail of SC 2.4.6: Headings and labels
> describe topic or purpose, [1]. No text content means no description.

If the page is understandable without that empty heading (which I'd assume is the case, if these headings are accidentally created), then I'd say it's a pass here.

> Empty headings probably also fail SC1.3.1 Info and Relationships [2]
> check out Failure Technique F43: Failure of Success Criterion 1.3.1
> due to using structural markup in a way that does not represent
> relationships in the content [3]

Yes, I'd agree it certainly fails 1.3.1 (this is where I normally flag empty headings in audits).

P
--
Patrick H. Lauke

www.splintered.co.uk | https://github.com/patrickhlauke http://flickr.com/photos/redux/ | http://redux.deviantart.com
twitter: @patrick_h_lauke | skype: patrick_h_lauke

From: Birkir R. Gunnarsson
Date: Sun, Nov 27 2016 6:25AM
Subject: Re: which guideline to empty headers go against?
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In my experience most screen readers ignore empty headings (do not
include them in their list of headings or enable navigation to them).
I am not sure if the same applies to headings with white space inside
them.
I agree on 1.3.1 and 2.4.6 being the most likely success criteria.
It is usually not a serious issue for the user, and I believe it is
fine to lower the accessibility testing tool severity to a warning
from an error.


On 11/22/16, Jonathan Avila < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:
>> Yes, I'd agree it certainly fails 1.3.1 (this is where I normally flag
>> empty headings in audits).
>
> I'd generally agree with this as well.
>
> Jonathan
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: WebAIM-Forum [mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf
> Of Patrick H. Lauke
> Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 3:54 AM
> To: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
> Subject: Re: [WebAIM] which guideline to empty headers go against?
>
>
>
> On 22/11/2016 09:40, Bim Egan wrote:
>> I'd say this is a definite fail of SC 2.4.6: Headings and labels
>> describe topic or purpose, [1]. No text content means no description.
>
> If the page is understandable without that empty heading (which I'd assume
> is the case, if these headings are accidentally created), then I'd say it's
> a pass here.
>
>> Empty headings probably also fail SC1.3.1 Info and Relationships [2]
>> check out Failure Technique F43: Failure of Success Criterion 1.3.1
>> due to using structural markup in a way that does not represent
>> relationships in the content [3]
>
> Yes, I'd agree it certainly fails 1.3.1 (this is where I normally flag empty
> headings in audits).
>
> P
> --
> Patrick H. Lauke
>
> www.splintered.co.uk | https://github.com/patrickhlauke
> http://flickr.com/photos/redux/ | http://redux.deviantart.com
> twitter: @patrick_h_lauke | skype: patrick_h_lauke
> > > http://webaim.org/discussion/archives
> > > > > >


--
Work hard. Have fun. Make history.

From: Maxability Accessibility for all
Date: Sun, Nov 27 2016 8:35AM
Subject: Re: which guideline to empty headers go against?
← Previous message | Next message →

+1 to 2.4.6 and 1.3.1. I wonder how these defects can be identified if SRs
do not recognize them and a11y checkers do not identify them.

Thanks & Regards
Rakesh

On Sun, Nov 27, 2016 at 6:55 PM, Birkir R. Gunnarsson <
= EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:

> In my experience most screen readers ignore empty headings (do not
> include them in their list of headings or enable navigation to them).
> I am not sure if the same applies to headings with white space inside
> them.
> I agree on 1.3.1 and 2.4.6 being the most likely success criteria.
> It is usually not a serious issue for the user, and I believe it is
> fine to lower the accessibility testing tool severity to a warning
> from an error.
>
>
> On 11/22/16, Jonathan Avila < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:
> >> Yes, I'd agree it certainly fails 1.3.1 (this is where I normally flag
> >> empty headings in audits).
> >
> > I'd generally agree with this as well.
> >
> > Jonathan
> >
> >
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: WebAIM-Forum [mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On
> Behalf
> > Of Patrick H. Lauke
> > Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 3:54 AM
> > To: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
> > Subject: Re: [WebAIM] which guideline to empty headers go against?
> >
> >
> >
> > On 22/11/2016 09:40, Bim Egan wrote:
> >> I'd say this is a definite fail of SC 2.4.6: Headings and labels
> >> describe topic or purpose, [1]. No text content means no description.
> >
> > If the page is understandable without that empty heading (which I'd
> assume
> > is the case, if these headings are accidentally created), then I'd say
> it's
> > a pass here.
> >
> >> Empty headings probably also fail SC1.3.1 Info and Relationships [2]
> >> check out Failure Technique F43: Failure of Success Criterion 1.3.1
> >> due to using structural markup in a way that does not represent
> >> relationships in the content [3]
> >
> > Yes, I'd agree it certainly fails 1.3.1 (this is where I normally flag
> empty
> > headings in audits).
> >
> > P
> > --
> > Patrick H. Lauke
> >
> > www.splintered.co.uk | https://github.com/patrickhlauke
> > http://flickr.com/photos/redux/ | http://redux.deviantart.com
> > twitter: @patrick_h_lauke | skype: patrick_h_lauke
> > > > > archives at
> > http://webaim.org/discussion/archives
> > > > > > > > > > > >
>
>
> --
> Work hard. Have fun. Make history.
> > > > >

From: Sailesh Panchang
Date: Mon, Nov 28 2016 8:24AM
Subject: Re: which guideline to empty headers go against?
← Previous message | No next message

If there is no visual content inside the heading (I mean rendered via
CSS image or such) it is not represented as a heading to anyone.
It is poor coding / CMS errors as others have pointed out and empty
headings do not impact SR users as others have confirmed.
What info relation is being conveyed via presentation that is not
available by markup or is rather represented incorrectly by markup?
If the h tag introduces margins / spacing ... it impacts everyone: it
is a general usability / poor design issue.
So how does it fail any SC?
BTW Deque's aXe or FireEyes II flag empty headings for corrective action.
Thanks,
Sailesh Panchang