Re: SC 1.3.1 and virtual columns

Hi Oscar,

If the three columns only contain information and it does not matter which order they are read in then you would probably be OK - *PROVIDING* you never referred to the columns as “first” or “left” etc. anywhere. However I must question why you would want to code your columns in such a strange way???.

If the columns contain focusable elements such as links then I am sorry to say that they will not comply with WCAG. They will be confusing for many disabled people such as keyboard users who expect the focus to follow a logical sequence as shown on the screen. On entering the three column section these users expect the first available link to be in the left column (unless the site is in Arabic). If the first link is in the right-hand column they will probably not see it and assume that you have used CSS to style your links for mouse users only.



From: Oscar Cao 
Sent: Wednesday, December 09, 2015 3:15 AM
To: Phill Jenkins ; Jonathan Avila ; 
Subject: RE: SC 1.3.1 and virtual columns

Thank you all for your feedback. 

I've decided it's not in violation of 1.3.1 (although I still feel the positioning of the content should have some value. Even if it's not explicitly referred to in the content.)

However, I have reached another dilemma and that is, the focusing order (2.4.3 - if memory serves me right). The default focus order is from top to bottom. So here, we suddenly jump to the top of the right hand column and then go back to the first column.

I could understand if it was the contents to the page. But if it's just another chunk of content, is this jumping considered OK?


Sent from Outlook Mobile

On Tue, Dec 8, 2015 at 6:05 PM -0800, "Jonathan Avila" <> wrote:

Ø  Your code does fail 1.3.2 - Meaningful Sequence 

Phil, if the order of the content is not relevant to its understanding and provides comparable access I don’t see why example 2 cited below your referenced example 1 would not apply and allow this to pass.

Example 2: CSS is used to position a navigation bar, the main story on a page, and a side story. The visual presentation of the sections does not match the programmatically determined order, but the meaning of the page does not depend on the order of the sections.


Jonathan Avila
Chief Accessibility Officer

703-637-8957 (o) 
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From: Phill Jenkins [] 
Sent: Tuesday, December 08, 2015 6:47 PM
Subject: Re: SC 1.3.1 and virtual columns

Your code does fail 1.3.2 - Meaningful Sequence 
Examples of Success Criterion 1.3.2 

  a.. Example 1: In a multi-column document, the linear presentation of the content flows from the top of a column to the bottom of the column, then to the top of the next column.

Regarding your question about applicability of SC 1.3.1 - Info and Relationships: Information, structure, and relationships conveyed through presentation can be programmatically determined or are available in text 

I do not think SC 1.3.1 always applies in your example description.  It would if there were headings at the top of each colum that were not marked as headings, or regions (landmarks) if the purpose of each column was conveyed some other way.  However, SC 1.3.1 would apply if the information in the column is referred to in the text by its column position (realtionship to the other columns) - for example, if someone had to do something with xyz in column 3, how would the AT user be able to determine that without sight? The AT would only know there are DIV's, not columns. There would have to be a heading or label or something like that  that is redundant with the visual positioning.  E.g. "do something with xyz in the Highlights section in column 3... If the information is not referred to by it relationship (e.g.column 3), then SC 1.3.1 is not applicable in my opinion. 

Another example is where a 3 column layout transfroms to a single column layout when going from desktop view to smartphone view and there is no loss in information relationship needed to use the app.
Phill Jenkins, 
IBM Accessibility

From:        Oscar Cao <> 
To:        <> 
Date:        12/08/2015 03:53 PM 
Subject:        SC 1.3.1 and virtual columns 


Hello fellow interest group members. 
I would like to know what the interest group’s views/opinions are in regards to SC 1.3.1 and the following scenario. 
The page has a three column layout (not created using tables). There’s a ‘box container of information’, it has been positioned via CSS to appear in the virtual third column. However, in the source code, it sits at the very start of the content section, see code below: 
<div class=”box”> 
<!-- box container of information --> 
<div class=”column”> 
<!-- column one --> 
<div class=”column”> 
<!-- column two --> 
<div class=”column”> 
<!-- column three --> 
The box container information is self-contained and will make sense wherever you place it. Thus, I didn’t bring up SC 1.3.2 (that talks about sequence). However, I am unsure if the positioning of the box information breaks SC 1.3.1. in regards to not being able to programmatically determine the visual position/location of the box container. Sighted users see it in column three, while AT users see it as the first thing. 

Received on Wednesday, 9 December 2015 19:52:42 UTC