Instructions must not depend on sensory characteristics like shape, size, colour, or location. This ensures that instructions can be understood by users who are unable to see or recognize information communicated using sensory characteristics.
Accessibility Requirements For 1.3.3 Sensory characteristics (A)
- Do not use shape, size, color, or location to communicate instructions.
Common mistakes for 1.3.3 Sensory characteristics (A)
- An instruction tells users to “activate the green button”;
- An instruction tells users to “use the menu on the left of the page”;
- An instruction tells users they can “find more information in the square box”;
- An instruction tells users to “follow the biggest link in the tag cloud”.
Techniques for 1.3.3 Sensory characteristics (A)
Common Failures for 1.3.3 Sensory characteristics (A)
The following are common mistakes that are considered failures of Success Criterion 1.3.3 by the WCAG Working Group.
- F14: Failure of Success Criterion 1.3.3 due to identifying content only by its shape or location
- F26: Failure of Success Criterion 1.3.3 due to using a graphical symbol alone to convey information
FAQs for Sensory characteristics
When describing sensory characteristics what language should you avoid?
Avoid using spatial relationships, size, position, color, or sound to describe how to consume or interact with your content.
How to overcome this ?
Use text labels to elements in addition to sensory characteristics.
Don’t use instructions that only use sensory characteristics.
Avoid instructions that rely on sound.
Good instruction of sensory characteristics
1.‘Use the search box’
2.‘Use the search box on the right’
3.‘Search by using the green rectangular box labelled ‘Search’ at the top right of the page’
The first two won’t pass, they don’t give users enough sensory information. The third uses text labelling to help the user.