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Article Headings, Please!

This has become an issue for me of late, and it needs more attention. And that is lack of sub-headings in articles. Not just the page heading and/or article heading, but headings  throughout an article to make it more accessible and usable. Especially so the longer an article is. (And of course, use proper markup! H1, H2, etc.)

Examples, Poor

Among many, I came across the following articles which could really use more headings. The articles are fairly long, and could no doubt be broken up into sections.

Why Headings?

Why are headings so important? First of all, it’s part of accessibility guidelines such as WCAG 2.0; see section 2.4.6 Headings and Labels. The W3C points out that headings create meaning when read out of context. And they help people with limited short-term memory. In addition, headings provide:

  • Better navigation for screenreaders.
  • Default formatting when CSS is not available.
  • More semantic.
  • Scanning more usable and readable document.
  • SEO.

Examples, Good

Here are examples of articles with good use of headings:

Please use headings and sub-headings as it creates more web accessible and usable articles.

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Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust

Joe Dolson recently completed an excellent four part series published on the Practical eCommerce web site. Another great read from Joe,highly recommended. The articles cover the following four fundamental principles of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2):

  1. Is it perceivable?
  2. Is it operable?
  3. Is it understandable?
  4. Is it robust?

Here are the articles:

Joe was a guest back in 2007 in Podcast: #41: The Definition of Web Accessibility

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WCAG 2.0 Checklist from WebAIM

WebAIM has recently published a valuable WCAG 2.0 Checklist—objective recommendations, or techniques, under each Success Criteria item for each Guideline. Like WCAG 2, the Guidelines are organized under the four principles: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust. WebAIM is asking for feedback on the list.

In WebAIM’s words, the checklist is described as:

a simple checklist that presents the principles and techniques of WCAG 2.0 in a more user-friendly, understandable format

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Post-Guideline Age for Web Accessibility?

Are we entering a Post-Guideline Age for web accessibility? It’s an interesting new argument being made in the article Web Accessibility. Life In the Post-Guideline Age from the E-Access blog.

I believe there is a good case for this:

  • Too many different guidelines and laws.
  • Too many different technologies are being developed.
  • Just because a site passes web accessibility, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s usable (this is what the article focuses on).

Here’s a good excerpt from the article:

I think of this as a pyramid. Web accessibility is the foundation. Usability by disabled people is the next layer. And both of these underpin the ultimate goal: excellent user experiences by disabled people (and everyone).

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WCAG 2.0 published as Candidate Recommendation

Today the WCAG 2.0 has been advanced to Candidate Recommendation status. This is a big step in the long W3C guideline development process. What this means is that most people agree on the technical aspects of the much needed update to WCAG 1.0, and we can start using WCAG 2.0 as a guideline as it’s “Ready to Test-Drive”.

In the words of WCAG:

We are excited to announce that Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0
(WCAG 2.0) was published as a W3C Candidate Recommendation on 30 April 2008. The Candidate Recommendation stage means that there is broad consensus on the technical content, and W3C invites you to implement WCAG 2.