Re: WCAG 2.2 status - Icon Description

Tap describes one available method. However for instances of icons that are a child of an actionable element, that method fires a pointer event that would have to prevent the default; defer the time to response; or require an additional element for the original intended action.

Touch screens actually have more available actions than fewer. They lack hover, match focus, but gain long touch, force touch and gestures.

The idea of an external toggle is similar to other preference controls like contrast modes or text size adjustments. Not a recommendation, but a plausible method. That would extend to a method that could be queried, like prefers-icon-labels that could globally toggle the display state of the text description.

My primary concerns are:

  1.  the user’s context (could be {n} instance and not first)
  2.  lack of affordance to indicate there is a description available
  3.  complications where the icon is a child of an action (like link, button, tab or has popup)

Charles Hall // Senior UX Architect
Invited Expert, W3C Accessibility Guidelines Working Group

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From: Alastair Campbell <>
Date: Monday, January 13, 2020 at 10:49 AM
To: "Hall, Charles (DET-MRM)" <>
Cc: WCAG list <>
Subject: [EXTERNAL] Re: WCAG 2.2 status - Icon Description

Charles wrote:

> I am suggesting the text description accompany all instances – if those instances are flow content.


> I would not promote a pattern where a user is required to interact with an

> element to understand the element.

So if all icons must have a text description available (presumably adjacent to the icon), and we cannot rely on tap, that would require another control somewhere to toggle descriptions. Unless I’m missing something, is there another method?

In which case the addition of a printer icon-link on a page would trigger the need for an extra control on that page to toggle the description visibility.

If we are requiring external toggles (or that every icon has a visible description by default), I think that is heading towards an AAA type of criteria.

Or, we could accept that touch-screens have less interaction options available and only require the focus/hover methods for showing (initially hidden) descriptions.



PS. Did you mean ‘flow content’ in HTML terms, i.e. block elements?

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Received on Monday, 13 January 2020 16:36:41 UTC