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Re: WCAG violations or accessibility enhancements

From: Mark Barratt <markb@textmatters.com>
Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2018 16:29:13 +0000
Cc: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-Id: <17BEC569-75AF-4EB8-B15C-097DE6297674@textmatters.com>
To: Marc Haunschild <haunschild@mhis.de>
Documents for different purposes and different users may need different structures. ‘Best practice’ is not the same for all kinds of document for all kinds of use, and it is not determinable by mechanical parsing of markup.

For some kinds of documents (for example instructions, manuals, legislation and reference guides) a strict hierarchy of headings approaches a requirement to make the content structure as clear and as navigable as possible for the user. 

(Even here, there are exceptions: a standard ‘safety alert’ in an operating manual needs to appear near the text which causes it to be needed, and it needs to be consistent with other safety alerts in the text. The safety alert is likely to be a standard block with a standard, say h3, heading. It may appear within a text block where the heading before it is h1 or h4. It’s not wrong.)

But there are a lot of other kinds of text: novels, news stories, essays, diaries etc which are appropriately or wilfully not bound by hierarchical rules. Their structure may not be hierarchical either visually or semantically. They may, quite reasonably, be hard to follow for sighted or visually challenged readers.

In a machine-evaluated text, it is reasonable to report a non-hierarchically-structured page to the originator as ‘something you might want to check - hierarchical headings help users and search engines navigate, reference and understand operative texts’, but ‘best practice’ is a stretch, and ‘violation’ is just wrong.



> On 2 Mar 2018, at 15:30, Marc Haunschild <haunschild@mhis.de> wrote:
> Anyway: whenever possible no heading level should be skipped. I agree with this of course. This is best practice. But as a matter of fact, that is not the answer to all real-life problems. Sometimes it is surprisingly difficult to find the best solution. For example when developing a modular content management, where modules can be used in a text and you cannot know, if there is h2, h3 or h4 before it.
> So I can give a h5 for this box or the author must choose the correct heading every time he uses this module – because nobody is perfect he may choose h3 after h4.

Mark Barratt
Text Matters

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Received on Friday, 2 March 2018 16:29:37 UTC

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