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Using role="heading" to identify headings

Revision as of 22:33, 17 January 2013 by Lguarino (Talk | contribs)

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  • 4th Nov, Ready for TF review.

Add use cases:

  • where retrofitting a site where can't change dom because of scripts that depend on existing hierarchy
  • h7 equivalent (AT supported)

User Agent notes

  • 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.

Headings are used by screen readers to convey the structure of content on the page. Screen readers also use headings as a means of navigating through the content on a page.


Example 1

This example demonstrates how to apply role="heading" to a piece of content. Note: The aria-labelledby attribute is used to associate the heading content with its parent element.

<div id="hd1">
<div role="heading" aria-labelledby="hd1">Apples</div>

<p>Apples grow on trees in areas known as orchards...</p>


WAI-ARIA Authoring Practices

Related Technques

  • 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
  • F2: Failure of Success Criterion 1.3.1 due to using changes in text presentation to convey information without using the appropriate markup or text



  1. Examine each element with the attribute role="heading".
  2. Determine whether the content of the element is appropriate as a heading.

Expected results

  • Check #2 is true.