Understanding WCAG 2.0

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Resize text:
Understanding SC 1.4.4

1.4.4 Resize text: Except for captions and images of text, text can be resized without assistive technology up to 200 percent without loss of content or functionality. (Level AA)

Intent of this Success Criterion

The intent of this Success Criterion is to ensure that visually rendered text, including text-based controls (text characters that have been displayed so that they can be seen [vs. text characters that are still in data form such as ASCII]) can be scaled successfully so that it can be read directly by people with mild visual disabilities, without requiring the use of assistive technology such as a screen magnifier. Users may benefit from scaling all content on the Web page, but text is most critical.

The scaling of content is primarily a user agent responsibility. User agents that satisfy UAAG 1.0 Checkpoint 4.1 allow users to configure text scale. The author's responsibility is to create Web content that does not prevent the user agent from scaling the content effectively. Authors may satisfy this Success Criterion by verifying that content does not interfere with user agent support for resizing text, including text-based controls, or by providing direct support for resizing text or changing the layout. An example of direct support might be via server-side script that can be used to assign different style sheets.

The author cannot rely on the user agent to satisfy this Success Criterion for HTML content if users do not have access to a user agent with zoom support. For example, if they work in an environment that requires them to use IE 6 or Firefox.

If the author is using a technology whose user agents do not provide zoom support, the author is responsible to provide this type of functionality directly or to provide content that works with the type of functionality provided by the user agent. If the user agent doesn't provide zoom functionality but does let the the user change the text size, the author is responsible for ensuring that the content remains usable when the text is resized.

Some user interface components that function as a label and require activation by the user to access content are not wide enough to accommodate the label's content. For example, in Web mail applications the subject column may not wide enough to accommodate every possible subject header, but activating the subject header takes the user to the full message with the full subject header. In Web-based spreadsheets, cell content that is too long to be displayed in a column can be truncated, and the full content of the cell is available to the user when the cell receives focus. The content of a user interface component may also become too wide in user interfaces where the user can resize the column width. In this type of user interface component, line wrapping is not required; truncation is acceptable if the component's full content is available on focus or after user activation and an indication that this information can be accessed, is provided to the user in some way besides the fact that it is truncated.

Content satisfies the Success Criterion if it can be scaled up to 200%, that is, up to twice the width and height. Authors may support scaling beyond that limit, however, as scaling becomes more extreme, adaptive layouts may introduce usability problems. For example, words may be too wide to fit into the horizontal space available to them, causing them to be truncated; layout constraints may cause text to overlap with other content when it is scaled larger; or only one word of a sentence may fit on each line, causing the sentence to be displayed as a vertical column of text that is difficult to read.

The working group feels that 200% is a reasonable accommodation that can support a wide range of designs and layouts, and complements older screen magnifiers that provide a minimum magnification of 200%. Above 200%, zoom (which resizes text, images, and layout regions and creates a larger canvas that may require both horizontal and vertical scrolling) may be more effective than text resizing. Assistive technology dedicated to zoom support would usually be used in such a situation and may provide better accessibility than attempts by the author to support the user directly.

Note: Images of text do not scale as well as text because they tend to pixelate, and therefore we suggest using text wherever possible. It is also harder to change foreground and background contrast and color combinations for images of text, which are necessary for some users.

See also Understanding Success Criterion 1.4.8 Visual Presentation.

Specific Benefits of Success Criterion 1.4.4:

  • This Success Criterion helps people with low vision by letting them increase text size in content so that they can read it.

Examples of Success Criterion 1.4.4

Related Resources

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.

Techniques and Failures for Success Criterion 1.4.4 - Resize text

Each numbered item in this section represents a technique or combination of techniques that the WCAG Working Group deems sufficient for meeting this Success Criterion. The techniques listed only satisfy the Success Criterion if all of the WCAG 2.0 conformance requirements have been met.

Additional Techniques (Advisory) for 1.4.4

Although not required for conformance, the following additional techniques should be considered in order to make content more accessible. Not all techniques can be used or would be effective in all situations.

Key Terms

assistive technology (as used in this document)

hardware and/or software that acts as a user agent, or along with a mainstream user agent, to provide functionality to meet the requirements of users with disabilities that go beyond those offered by mainstream user agents

Note 1: functionality provided by assistive technology includes alternative presentations (e.g., as synthesized speech or magnified content), alternative input methods (e.g., voice), additional navigation or orientation mechanisms, and content transformations (e.g., to make tables more accessible).

Note 2: Assistive technologies often communicate data and messages with mainstream user agents by using and monitoring APIs.

Note 3: The distinction between mainstream user agents and assistive technologies is not absolute. Many mainstream user agents provide some features to assist individuals with disabilities. The basic difference is that mainstream user agents target broad and diverse audiences that usually include people with and without disabilities. Assistive technologies target narrowly defined populations of users with specific disabilities. The assistance provided by an assistive technology is more specific and appropriate to the needs of its target users. The mainstream user agent may provide important functionality to assistive technologies like retrieving Web content from program objects or parsing markup into identifiable bundles.

Example: Assistive technologies that are important in the context of this document include the following:

  • screen magnifiers, and other visual reading assistants, which are used by people with visual, perceptual and physical print disabilities to change text font, size, spacing, color, synchronization with speech, etc. in order to improve the visual readability of rendered text and images;

  • screen readers, which are used by people who are blind to read textual information through synthesized speech or braille;

  • text-to-speech software, which is used by some people with cognitive, language, and learning disabilities to convert text into synthetic speech;

  • speech recognition software, which may be used by people who have some physical disabilities;

  • alternative keyboards, which are used by people with certain physical disabilities to simulate the keyboard (including alternate keyboards that use head pointers, single switches, sip/puff and other special input devices.);

  • alternative pointing devices, which are used by people with certain physical disabilities to simulate mouse pointing and button activations.


synchronized visual and/or text alternative for both speech and non-speech audio information needed to understand the media content

Note 1: Captions are similar to dialogue-only subtitles except captions convey not only the content of spoken dialogue, but also equivalents for non-dialogue audio information needed to understand the program content, including sound effects, music, laughter, speaker identification and location.

Note 2: Closed Captions are equivalents that can be turned on and off with some players.

Note 3: Open Captions are any captions that cannot be turned off. For example, if the captions are visual equivalent images of text embedded in video.

Note 4: Captions should not obscure or obstruct relevant information in the video.

Note 5: In some countries, captions are called subtitles.

Note 6: Audio descriptions can be, but do not need to be, captioned since they are descriptions of information that is already presented visually.

image of text

text that has been rendered in a non-text form (e.g., an image) in order to achieve a particular visual effect

Note: This does not include text that is part of a picture that contains significant other visual content.

Example: A person's name on a nametag in a photograph.


sequence of characters that can be programmatically determined, where the sequence is expressing something in human language