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RE: Heading structure with 1.3.1 Info and Relationships and 2.4.1 Bypass Block

From: <alands289@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 2017 13:15:37 -0500
Message-ID: <586bea48.0f4f370a.eac90.177e@mx.google.com>
To: Glenda Sims <glenda.sims@deque.com>, "McSorley, Jan" <jan.mcsorley@pearson.com>
Cc: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
I’m challenged by all this back and forth about how to properly use heading tags.

Imagine trying to create training material to teach developers and designers how to meet these guidelines.

It is true that there are many specifics for the heading structure that cannot be found in the actual wording of WCAG for headings but from all the literature in the industry of how to make headings work to meet the WCAG guidelines I find that the proper structure without skipping heading levels is what is taught.

There are many things that are not specifically written that fall between different SC’s that are not written up.

However, it is our job to present “how to” do something to developers and designers as we are the ones that should be promoting this.

I’ve often stated we can make web pages technically meet WCAG 2.0 but still not be functional for those with disabilities.

I’ll keep failing for skipping heading levels. 
I cannot train others on accessibility coding and cannot support accessibility for disabled users and website clients by saying it is okay to skip heading levels when those in the community may use that as a reason to bring a website to court for lack of accessibility “from their experience” of not understanding the page structure due to improper hierarchal structure of the page’s headings.

Alan Smith

From: Glenda Sims
Sent: Tuesday, January 3, 2017 12:46 PM
To: McSorley, Jan
Cc: WAI Interest Group
Subject: Re: Heading structure with 1.3.1 Info and Relationships and 2.4.1 Bypass Block

Jan, Phill, et al

I agree with Phill, in that skipping heading levels does not fail 1.3.1.  I think it would be a wonderful addition to WCAG 2.1 or Silver.  

WCAG 2.0 is a minimum bar...it is not all best practices.  There were reasons that skipped heading levels were not included in WCAG 2.0 SC 1.3.1. 


glenda sims    |   team a11y lead   |    deque.com    |    512.963.3773      

web for everyone. web on everything. -  w3 goals

On Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 11:18 AM, McSorley, Jan <jan.mcsorley@pearson.com> wrote:
With all due respect, I don't agree that skipping headings is "an equal usability issue for everyone." I believe that it is much more time-consuming, and potentially confusing, for a person without sight to determine what is happening with heading structures that skip heading levels than it is for a person with sight.

I believe that heading structure for people who rely on the use of screen reading technology means something more than people who are able to see visual headings.  People who can see the headings, don't rely on them for navigation in the same way people without sight do.  I think that it is unfortunate that consensus could not be met to use best practice with heading structure.  It is certainly a fairness issue in assessment and I believe that it has a much bigger impact on usability than people think it does.

Jan McSorley
VP, Accessibility
Psychometrics and Testing Services

400 Center Ridge Drive, Suite E
Austin, TX  78753
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We put a man on the moon in the 1960's ... surely we can make information technology fully accessible to people with disabilities.  It can be done ... it must be done ... it will be done!

On Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 11:01 AM, Phill Jenkins <pjenkins@us.ibm.com> wrote:
1.3.1Info and Relationships: Information, structure, and relationshipsconveyed through presentationcan be programmatically determined or are available in text. (Level A) 

1. I do not believe skipping a heading level is an issue for assistive software users any more than it is for a non-assistive software user.  In other words, it is an equal usability issue for everyone, but not a 1.3.1 success failure. 

2. I agree that headings (H1-H6) should be used structurally as the HTML markup language semantics intended them to be used, but 1.3.1 does not require the use of headings, does not required that headings be used all the time in all content, nor that when heading are used that they be used sequentially, nor that there only be one and only one heading level 1 per page.

3. 1.3.1 doesn't require that presentation include structure, but that if and when it does present structure and relationships through presentation, that the same information is available through mark-up (or available in text). 

If we want to "add" a new success criteria that requires that if and when heading levels are used, that they be used sequentially, but we have to allow for many situations that are consistent with the intent of the HTML specification.  For example:
a. Page that is quoting a part of a page that doesn't include a heading level 1 should be allowed.  In other words starting with a heading level 2 or 3.

b. Heading level 2 can follow a heading 3 or 4 if it is going back up a level.  For example:

c.  Page that doesn't include any heading level 3's, but uses a consistent heading level 4 for all footers across a set of pages should be allowed.  In other words, it is OK to skip a heading level on a page in some situations.  

So, with these examples we can begin to see why the working group could NOT reach consensus to ALWAYS require the use of headings, ALWAYS starting heading level 1 and NEVER skipping a heading level. 
Phill Jenkins
Senior Engineer & Accessibility Executive
IBM Research Accessibility
Received on Tuesday, 3 January 2017 18:16:35 UTC

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