Using role=heading to identify headings
For the history of this technique, see Using role=heading. Attempting to include doublequote characters in the title broke the wiki.
- 4th Nov, Ready for TF review.
- WG survey 14 Jan 2013, returned to TF
- Add use cases:
- where retrofitting a site where can't change dom because of scripts that depend on existing hierarchy
- h7 equivalent (AT supported)
- Add use cases:
- Reviewed by TF in Techniques Task Force: ARIA techniques for 8 Aug 2013
- Reviewed by WG in WCAG review of Techniques Task Force: ARIA techniques for 10 September 2013
- Reviewed by WG on October 29 call and accepted as amended.
- Added to XML by AWK 2014/1/2
User Agent Notes [To be published separately]
- Jaws 13 and higher supports this technique.
- NVDA 2012.3 supports this technique.
This technique applies to HTML with WAI-ARIA.
This technique relates to Success Criterion (SC) 1.3.1. (Info and relationships):
The purpose of this technique is to provide a way for Assistive Technologies (AT) to identify
a piece of content as a heading. Applying
role="heading" to an element causes an AT (like a
screen reader) to treat it as though it were a heading.
If there is more than one heading on the page and the heading hierarchy is defined through the
visual presentation, the
aria-level attribute should be used to indicate the hierarchical level of
When possible, use native heading mark-up directly. For example, it is preferable
<h1> rather than using
<div role="heading" aria-level="1">. However, the use of the
heading role, instead of heading mark-up, may be necessary, for example, when retrofitting a
legacy site where scripts depend on the existing element hierarchy.
The use of the
heading role and nesting levels is discussed in WAI-ARIA 1.0 Authoring Practices.
This example demonstrates how to implement simple headings using role="heading" when retrofitting a legacy site where scripts depend on the existing element hierarchy or the level is unknown for example where web content is syndicated from various sources and there is no a priori knowledge of what the final presentation will be.
<div role="heading">Global News items</div> ... a list of global news with editorial comment.... <div role="heading">Local News items</div> ... a list of local news, with editorial comment ...
This example demonstrates how to implement a level 7 heading using role="heading" and the aria-level attribute. Since HTML only supports headings through level 6, there is no native element to provide these semantics.
... <h5>Fruit Trees</h5> ... <h6>Apples</h6> <p>Apples grow on trees in areas known as orchards...</p> ... <div role="heading" aria-level="7">Jonagold/div> <p>Jonagold is a cross between the Golden Delicious and Jonathan varieties...</p>
- WAI-ARIA Authoring Practices
- heading, The Roles Model, Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0
- H42: Using h1-h6 to identify headings
- H69: Providing heading elements at the beginning of each section of content
- G141: Organizing a page using headings
- Examine each element with the attribute role="heading".
- Determine whether the content of the element is appropriate as a heading.
- If the element has an aria-level attribute, determine whether the value is the appropriate hierarchical level.
- Check #2 and #3 is true.