Explain any strange words

Some of your users will find it hard to read unusual uses of words on your website. Things like figurative language, idioms and jargon can be difficult to process. Avoid using unusual words where you can and explain the use of words when you need to use them.

What to do

  • Avoid using unusual words and phrases.
  • If you need to use an unusual word or phrase, you can explain the meaning to your users by:
    • Showing the meaning in the text (for example, ‘I like bass. A bass is a fish.’); or
    • Showing the meaning in brackets (for example, ‘I like bass (a type of fish)’; or
    • Linking the word to a definition on a glossary page on your website; or
    • Linking the word to a definition footnote on the same page.

Tips

  • If your use of an unusual word always means the same thing, you only have to define it the first time.
  • If your use of an unusual word changes, you must define the word on every occasion (for example, a bass might be a type of fish in one paragraph and a musical instrument in another).
  • Always define technical terms and jargon that any user might not understand depending on their familiarity with the subject.
  • Wherever possible, avoid using jargon and idioms. These are bad for novices in your industry and users who don’t natively speak your language.

See also

‘Section Headings’ requires you to organise content with headings.

Introduction

Adding section headings to all content will help your users understand your website. They are most helpful for users who have difficulty focusing or remembering where they are on a page, as well as users with a visual impairment who may navigate by skipping between headings.

You can help these users, and everyone else, by ensuring that all content on your website is broken up by clear and informative headings.

How to Pass ‘Section Headings’

Add a heading for every new thought or topic in your content (for example, a travel article may have headings to indicate the distinct sections on dining, transportation, and lodging).

Exceptions

A webpage can be single block of content with only one header if it is about one thought or topic.

‘Section Headings’ Tips

A section is a self-contained portion of written content that deals with one or more related topics or thoughts.

A section may consist of one or more paragraphs and include graphics, tables, lists and sub-sections.

Beware of making your content harder to read by forcing in too many headings.

Certain content may not be able to meet this guideline, for example if your website publishes unabridged historical documents that don’t use headings.

See Also

‘Link Purpose (Link Only)’ requires that every link’s destination is clear from its text.

Introduction

It’s essential that you make your links clear and easy to understand.

That’s because users with assistive technology, like a screen reader, often hear all the links on a page to help them find where they want to go. Others may view your website highly magnified or tab through links, so the user will only see the link text and a few words around it at any one time.

To help your users, your link text (the words that are linked, often called ‘anchor text’) must make the link destination clear.

How to Pass ‘Link Purpose (Link Only)’

Make sure that for each link on your website:

  • The destination of the link is clear from the link text (for example, ‘My blog’); or
  • If the link is an image, the alt text of the image makes the link destination clear (for example, ‘Luke McGrath – Visit my blog’); and
  • Links with the same destination have the same description (but links don’t share a description if they point to different places).

Exceptions

You don’t need to make the link purpose clear if it’s ambiguous to all your users. 

For example, if I link the word ‘blog’ in the phrase ‘I have a personal blog’ the link might go to my blog, or it might go to a Wikipedia page explaining what a blog is. No user would reliably know where the link goes before they follow the link.

Of course, it’s best to avoid ambiguous links as users should always know where they are going. Although, there are times when you might want to spring a fun surprise on everyone.

‘Link Purpose (Link Only)’ Tips

You may have passed this if you didn’t really on link context for Link Purpose (In Context).

Where you link to another page on your website, it’s good practice to use the page title you set in Page Titled as the link text.

See Also

‘Location’ requires you to let users know where they are on your website.

Some of your users will have problems understanding the structure of your website. They can get lost, especially during interactions like checkouts that take place over a few pages.

You can help your users by making it clear where they are on your website.

How to Pass ‘Location’

  • Use breadcrumbs to help with navigation. Show the sequence a user is following and where they are in that sequence. For examplem, You are here: Home > Fish > Bass; and
  • Add a sitemap page to your website (see Multiple Ways) so your users have another way of finding what they want. Add a link to the sitemap somewhere prominent like the header.

‘Location’ Tips

Use full page titles for breadcrumbs when they are 1-3 words long.

Abbreviate longer titles to make them easier to read (for example, ‘A Guide to Exotic Fish’ could just as well be ‘Exotic Fish’ for the purpose of a breadcrumb).

For a process that takes a few pages (like a shopping cart), show all the steps in the process and highlight where the user is.

If a page has a too many breadcrumbs, perhaps your website could be better organised.

Use your page titles in your sitemap, organised under subheadings.

See Also

No content flashes more than three times per second.

Introduction

Flashing content on a website can cause difficulties for users with photosensitive seizure disorders such as epilepsy. Flashing content can cause these users to suffer a seizure.

How to Pass ‘Three Flashes’

Don’t add anything to your website that flashes more than three times per second.

‘Three Flashes’ Tips

Remember, flashing is different to blinking (see Pause, Stop, Hide). Blinking can distract users but doesn’t cause seizures. 

If blinking content occurs three times per second, it is considered flashing content.

This removes the exception from Level A in Three Flashes or Below Threshold.

See Also

Save user data when re-authenticating.

Introduction

It may be essential for users to re-authenticate their identity for certain functions. For example, you might set a login to expire after a certain amount of time in case a user leaves their computer unattended.

Some users need longer than others to complete tasks on a website. You can help these users by saving the information they enter and when they re-authenticate (such as logging back in), displaying the same data.

How to Pass ‘Re-authenticating’

When you ask a user to re-authenticate their identity, ensure the user can continue exactly as before with saved data (for example, their shopping basket contents, input into forms or accessibility options).

‘Re-authenticating’ Tips

Ensure surveys and questionnaires can be saved part-completed and finished later.

If you ask your users to re-authenticate after a certain amount of time, consider whether your use of a time limit is justified under Timing Adjustable and No Timing. If the limit is for security reasons, such as protecting user data, this will pass both guidelines.

See Also

‘Interuptions’ requires that users can postpone or suppress non-emergency interruptions.

Introduction

Users with cognitive impairments may have difficulty maintaining their focus and attention. Interrupting their experience can impact their understanding of your content. Those with visual impairments who use a screen reader may struggle if content changes while they are consuming it.

Ideally, avoid these issues by eliminating all non-emergency interruptions.

How to Pass ‘Interruptions’

  • Don’t interrupt users, other than for emergencies
  • If you really want to interrupt users:
    • provide an option for turning off all but emergency interruptions (for example, by a ‘preferences’ or ‘accessibility’ page where choices persist for the user’s session);
    • allow users to postpone all updates and interruptions; or
    • allow users to request updates rather than receive them automatically.
  • Don’t use an automatic redirect or refresh function based on a time delay (for example, if a webpage has moved, do not redirect users to the new page after a certain amount of time).

Exceptions

Emergencies include civil emergency alert messages and messages that warn of danger to health, safety, or property – including data loss or loss of connection.

‘Interruptions’ Tips

The best thing you can do is eliminate all interruptions. 

If you must use a pop-up, make sure keyboard focus is on the window-closing ‘X’ icon in the corner that closes the pop-up. When a user closes a pop-up, return keyboard focus to the place on the page they were at before the pop-up appeared.

There is an overlap with 2.2.1 – Timing Adjustable, which allows for a warning to interrupt a user to tell them that a time limit is approaching as that would count as a loss of connection.

See Also

‘No timing’ requires no time limits on your website.

Introduction to ‘No Timing’

Users with visual, motor or cognitive impairments may need more time than others to understand and use your website. Any time controls or limits can make using your website difficult for these users.

How to Pass ‘No Timing’

Ensure there’s no time-limited content on your website.

Exceptions

The time limit is due to real-time events, like bidding in an auction or a livestream.

See Also

Keyboard (No Exception) requires that all functionality is accessible by keyboard with no exceptions.

Introduction

Users with visual or motor impairment may navigate your website using only their keyboard or through assistive technology that relies on a keyboard-like interaction with your website.

How to Pass ‘Keyboard (No Exception)’

  • Ensure users can access all elements of your website using only a keyboard
  • Ensure there are no specific timings needed for keystrokes, for example holding down ‘Enter’ for three seconds to submit a form

‘Keyboard (No Exception)’ Tips

This builds on 2.1.1 – Keyboard by removing the exceptions.

To test for this guideline, unplug your mouse and make sure you can fully use your website with only your keyboard – you might be surprised by what you can’t do.

Make sure no function on your website requires timed keystrokes (for example, ‘double tap on enter within two seconds’).

Don’t use ‘access keys’ (assigning a navigation link to a particular key) or page-specific key commands as they can conflict with assistive technology.

If you have something that, by its nature, must be mouse- controlled (like mouse testing software or a game) then do everything else you can to make your website accessible. Don’t panic because you can’t comply with this one guideline.

See Also

Don’t use images of text.

Introduction

Users with visual or cognitive impairments may rely on changing font size, colour, alignment or spacing to enjoy your content.

Text allows for this kind of personalisation, but images of text almost always don’t.

How to Pass

  • Don’t use an image of text when you can use plain text
  • Display quotes as text rather than images
  • Use CSS to style headings as text
  • Use CSS to style navigation menus as text

Exceptions

  • If using an image of text is essential because you can’t achieve the effect with text (for example, presenting a particular example of typography)
  • If the text is part of an image that contains other visual content, such as labels on a diagram
  • Purely decorative text
  • Brand logos

Tips

You may already comply with this guideline, depending on how you addressed 1.4.5 – Images of Text.

Images of text are subject to guidelines on colour contrast – see 1.4.3 – Contrast (Minimum) and 1.4.6 – Contrast (Enhanced).

See Also