The purpose of this success criterion is to ensure that users who cannot see the structure conveyed through the presentation of the content have access to this information.
Proper tagging of structure allows assistive technologies to provide equivalent reading ease, such as enabling users to navigate tables by column and row, jump over list items to find information, and hear when they encounter new paragraphs and sections of content.
How to Meet
This success criterion is one of the most open-ended to meet as the visual structuring of publications covers many aspects of the content.
The general principal is that content must not be styled to appear one way for visual readers while being structured in a less meaningful way that prevents assistive technologies from being able to understand the purpose.
Some of the more common applications of this requirement are that:
- Lists must use list tagging (e.g., not be paragraphs styled to look indented).
- Table headers must be tagged distinctly from regular cells and the table data must be tagged so that the rows and columns are identifiable.
- Sidebars, figures and other encapsulated secondary content is tagged so that it distinct from the primary narrative.
- Bolding and emphasis used to identify changes in voice, keywords, etc. are tagged using the appropriate markup.
- Related form fields are grouped together (e.g., a set of radio button options).
But ensuring that a publication fully meets this requirement requires a thorough comparison of the visual rendering of the content against the underlying markup. The question to ask in each case is if the styling were removed, would the author intention still be understandable to a machine.
The following knowledge base pages provide more information about how to address this success criterion for publishing content: