Re: Length of line

TL;DR - Using 'character' as a unit of measurement is extremely
problematic, and I do not support it's use here.


Some thoughts after today's call.

I personally have significant concerns over prescribing a fixed number of
characters, especially such a low number, as a unit of measurement.

When we factor in both Internationalization and languages other than
English, we will quickly arrive at a point where the number 25 is smaller
than numerous words in different languages (, which will then require word
hyphenization (most probably supplied by the content author, until such
time as AI can do that job seamlessly). This then suggests to me that we
will start to see 'forced' line-breaks again (using the presentational
<br>), which could have a significant impact on screen flow in RWD
(Responsive) layouts (i.e. the cure being worse the the symptom).

*Font-size and font-face choices:*
Equally, as mentioned on the call, another factor in measuring this,
related to horizontal scrolling, is font-size. For those of you using
HTML-rich mail clients, and using a 25 character-count example taken from

mall' sizing)​

electroencephalographical      (Gmail's
'Normal' sizing)​
electroencephalographical      (Gmail's
'Large' sizing)​
electroencephalographical      (Gmail's
'Huge' sizing)​

Q: How do we test for "success" here? Even the final line above (Gmail's
"Huge" font-size) could introduce horizontal scrolling at some level of
magnification on some devices, yet at 25 characters "meets" the current
wording of the proposed SC.

Additionally, different font-faces will have different font-width
characteristics, depending on the font-face chosen. For example:

electroencephalographical      (Gmail 'sans-serif', size 'normal')
electroencephalographical    (Gmail 'Verdana', size 'normal')
electroencephalographical     (Gmail 'Wide', size 'normal')

...once again, depending on the font-face choice we have 3 different
line-lengths, and so I question the overall choice of "character" as a unit
of measurement here.

*How to 'Succeed'/Author push-back:*
The current proposed language for this SC reads:

For the visual presentation of all text, a mechanism is available such that
line length is user adjustable, to 25 characters, with no two-dimensional
scrolling required, and with the following exceptions.

However, it is unclear what a page author can or should do to meet this
​, as it very much feels like a User-Agent requirement as much as anything
else. For SC 1.4.8, one technique is
G204 <>: *Not
interfering with the user agent's reflow of text as the viewing window is
*​, *which​ seems to me to at least address the larger issue (avoid
horizontal scrolling) without prescribing a specific line-length.

Finally, the current Success Criteria that requires an 80 character
line-length (
SC 1.4.8
is a AAA Success Criteria requirement, and yet this new proposed SC is at
level A, at roughly 1/3 the 80-char limit.
​Sadly (but not totally unreasonably) ​
I suspect that we will get significant push-back at level A


On Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 3:31 PM, David MacDonald <>

> I'm the manager of Issue #57 line length.
> I was asked to explain why 25 characters was chosen as the threshold. I
> deferred to the LVTF
> ​ since I did not write that requirement​
> . One point that was mentioned was that 25 characters is about the width
> of most news article columns.
> I did a survey of several top news sites on the web and measured the
> length of characters when text size is 100% (no zoom)
> -CNN 74
> ​ ​
> characters without counting spaces 87 with spaces. could narrow to 35 (w/
> spaces) in Responsive
> -NBC 61 no spaces 73 with spaces, could narrow to 39 (w/ spaces)
> -ABC NEWS 81 no spaces 92 Spaces, could narrow to 43 in responsive
> -FoxNews 67 no space 79 spaces could narrow to 45 in responsive
> -Le Droit french 74 no space, 86 with spaces, no responsive
> -Google News 73 No Spaces 87 with spaces could narrow to 44 in responsive
> - Huff post French 67 no spaces 79 with spaces no responsive
> ​N
> one of these sites passed the new SC proposal of 25 characters. They all
> went to horizontal scroll when window was narrowed less than those
> ​minimum character ​
> widths shown above.
> ​Do we
>  want to make the minimum a little wider, say 45 or 50 characters.
> For reference, the following is about 25 characters:
> "This test assesses basic"
> Cheers,
> David MacDonald
> *Can**Adapt* *Solutions Inc.*
> Tel:  613.235.4902 <(613)%20235-4902>
> LinkedIn
> <>
> GitHub <>
> <>
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John Foliot
Principal Accessibility Strategist
Deque Systems Inc.

Advancing the mission of digital accessibility and inclusion

Received on Tuesday, 10 January 2017 23:56:24 UTC