Guide to Guideline 1.1 Level 1 Success Criterion 4

1.1 L1 SC4

Key terms and important concepts

non-text content

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  1. functional non-text content - content that is capable of performing one or more actions in response to user input and is not text.

    NOTE: This includes___.

    Editorial Note: We need to decide which term to use here to refer to programs that run in the context of user agents.(ex. applet, embedded programmatic object, functional component)

  2. non-text content used to convey information - content that communicates ideas, data, facts [@@include info from definition of information] and is not text.

  3. non-text content that is intended to create a specific sensory experience - arrangements of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that cause a reaction in the viewer or listener.

specific sensory experience

Editorial Note: We need to include a definition of specific sensory experience. (per 13 June 2005 face to face meeting)

Intent of this success criterion

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Technology-Independent techniques for Guideline 1.1 L1 SC4

Text alternatives and non-text content that does not provide functionality or convey information


If the non-text content does not provide functionality or convey information, then mark the non-text content so that it may be ignored. Ask, "Will it be distracting? Is the non-text content necessary to understand the rest of the content? Is there another way to create the effect?"

Where users might want to be made aware that such content is present, use techniques for other success criteria for guideline 1.1. In most cases, users find it distracting to know about individual units of non-text content that do not convey information or provide functionality. For example, "spacer" images - transparent images used to control the layout of content - are not visible to most users. However, screen readers will read text alternatives associated with spacer images, which is distracting and oftentimes confusing. The same is true for many decorative graphics that are used to enhance readability by breaking up large blocks of text or simply to enhance the visual appearance of the page. To avoid these distractions, either:

  • Mark decorative non-text content in such a way that a user agent can ignore it or

  • Create decorative effects with more accessible methods.

Technology-Specific Techniques for Guideline 1.1 L1 SC4

HTML Techniques:

CSS Techniques:

Benefits: How Guideline 1.1 L1 SC4 helps people with disabilities

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Examples of Guideline 1.1 L1 SC4

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