Guideline 3.1: Easy to read, please

Make text content readable and understandable

Content should be read not only by assistive technology, but also by users, who can experience or can’t experience it in many different ways: visual, auditory, both visual and auditory. Complex texts and content can be difficult to be read, both for the assistive technology, but also by users. So this guideline is intented to editors, to prepare the text in a so everybody can understand it.

Best practices

Write it simple

  • Use the clearest and simplest language appropriate for the content
  • Use images, illustrations, video, audio, or symbols to clarify meaning
  • Provide practical examples to clarify content
  • Avoid unusual foreign words
  • References to a heading or a title include the full text of the heading or the title
  • Provide sign language interpretation for all content, or at least the main information that must be
    understood in order to use the content, including about how to contact the webmaster

Design it simple

  • Avoid centrally aligned text
  • Avoid text that is fully justified (to both left and right margins) in a way that causes
    poor spacing between words or characters
  • Use left-justified text for languages that are written left to right and right-justified
    text for languages that are written right-to-left
  • Limit text column width
  • Avoid chunks of italic text
  • Use a light pastel background rather than a white background behind black text
  • Avoid overuse of different styles on individual pages and in sites
  • Make links visually distinct
  • Provide easy-to-read versions of basic information about a set of Web pages, including
    information about how to contact the Webmaster
  • Use upper and lower case according to the spelling rules of the text language

3.1.1 Language of the page Level A

The default human language of each Web page can be programmatically determined.

Compulsory

  • Identify default human language(s) using language attributes on the html element

Recommended

  • Specifying the default language in the HTTP header
  • Use http or the Content-Language meta tag for metadata

3.1.2 Language of parts of the page Level AA

The human language of each passage or phrase in the content can be programmatically determined except for proper names, technical terms, words of indeterminate language, and words or phrases that have become part of the vernacular of the immediately surrounding text.

Compulsory

  • Identify changes in human languages using language attributes to identify changes in the human language

Recommended

  • Make text that is not in the default human language of the Web page visually distinct
  • Give the names of any languages used in foreign passages or phrases
  • Provide language markup on proper names to facilitate correct pronunciation by screen readers

3.1.3 Unusual words Level AAA

A mechanism is available for identifying specific definitions of words or phrases used in an unusual or restricted way, including idioms and jargon.

Compulsory

If the unusual word or phrase has a unique meaning within the Web page
  • Provide the definition for its first occurrence with a glossary linked, a definition list, or the dfn element; or
  • Provide the definition for each occurrence by linking to definitions (use definition lists or the link element to link to a glossary), providing a glossary or a function to search an online dictionary.
If the unusual word or phrase means different things within the same Web page
  • Provide the definition for each occurrence by linking to definitions (use definition lists or the the link element to link to a glossary) or using inline definitions (use the dfn element to identify the defining instance of a word)

Recommended

  • Use markup and visual formatting to help users recognize words that have special meaning
  • Provide a voice-enabled dictionary search so that users who have difficulty typing or spelling can speak the word whose definition they need
  • Provide a sign language dictionary to help users who are deaf find the necessary definitions
  • Provide a mechanism for finding definitions for all words in text content
  • Provide a mechanism to determine the meaning of each word or phrase in text content
  • Avoid unusual foreign words
  • Use a series of dictionaries in cascading fashion to provide meanings

3.1.4 Abbreviations Level AAA

A mechanism for identifying the expanded form or meaning of abbreviations is available.

Compulsory

If the abbreviation has only one meaning within the Web page:
  • Provide the expansion or explanation for its first occurrence by providing the abbreviation immediately following the expanded form, linking to definitions or using the abbr and acronym elements.
  • Provide the expansion or explanation for each occurrence by linking to definitions, using the link element to link to a glossary, or providing a glossary, a function to search an online dictionary or definitions for abbreviations by using the abbr and acronym elements.
If the abbreviation means different things within the same Web page
  • Provide the expansion or explanation for each occurrence by linking to definitions or using the abbr and acronym elements

Recommended

  • Use unique abbreviations in a Web page
  • Use visual formatting to help users recognize abbreviations
  • Provide access to a talking dictionary to support users who might have difficulty decoding written definitions
  • Provide a voice-enabled dictionary search so that users who have difficulty typing or spelling can speak the word whose definition they need

3.1.5 Reading LevelLevel AAA

When text requires reading ability more advanced than the lower secondary education level after removal of proper names and titles; supplemental content (or a version that does not require reading ability more advanced than the lower secondary education level) is available.

Compulsory

  • Provide a text summary that requires reading ability less advanced than the upper secondary education level
  • Provide visual illustrations, pictures, and symbols to help explain ideas, events, and processes
  • Provide a spoken version of the text
  • Make the text easier to read
  • Provide sign language versions of information, ideas, and processes that must be understood in order to use the content

Recommended

Be clear
  • Use the clearest and simplest language appropriate for the content
  • Provide summaries for different sections of text
  • Choose commonly used words instead of complex words or phrases if it does not change the meaning of the sentence
  • Provide a clear representational image on the site’s homepage
  • Identify clearly which content has been optimized for easy reading
  • Text for navigational and landing pages that requires reading ability that is less advanced than the lower secondary education level
  • Text for interior pages that requires reading ability at the lower secondary education level
Use sentences that…
  • contain no redundant words, that is, words that do not change the meaning of the sentence
  • contain no more than two conjunctions
  • are no longer than the typical accepted length for secondary education (Note: In English that is 25 words)
Metadata
  • Include content summaries in metadata
  • Use metadata to associate alternatives at different reading levels.
  • Make metadata viewable by humans
  • Use RDF to associate supplements with primary content
  • Use the Dublin Core, ISO AfA or IMS accessibility elements to associate text content with text, graphical, or spoken supplements

3.1.6 Pronunciation Level AAA

A mechanism is available for identifying specific pronunciation of words where meaning of the words, in context, is ambiguous without knowing the pronunciation.

Compulsory

  • Provide the pronunciation immediately following the word
  • Link to pronunciations
  • Provide a glossary that includes pronunciation information for words that have a unique pronunciation in the content and have meaning that depends on pronunciation
  • Provide pronunciation information using the ruby element or standard diacritical marks that can be turned off

Recommended

  • Providing pronunciations in a sound file, so that users can listen to the pronunciations of the word
  • Providing a mechanism for finding pronunciations for all foreign words in text content
  • Providing a mechanism to determine the pronunciations of each word or phrase in text content

More info