Understanding WCAG 2.0

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Info and Relationships:
Understanding SC 1.3.1

1.3.1 Info and Relationships: Information, structure, and relationships conveyed through presentation can be programmatically determined or are available in text. (Level A)

Intent of this Success Criterion

The intent of this Success Criterion is to ensure that information and relationships that are implied by visual or auditory formatting are preserved when the presentation format changes. For example, the presentation format changes when the content is read by a screen reader or when a user style sheet is substituted for the style sheet provided by the author.

Sighted users perceive structure and relationships through various visual cues — headings are often in a larger, bold font separated from paragraphs by blank lines; list items are preceded by a bullet and perhaps indented; paragraphs are separated by a blank line; items that share a common characteristic are organized into tabular rows and columns; form fields may be positioned as groups that share text labels; a different background color may be used to indicate that several items are related to each other; words that have special status are indicated by changing the font family and /or bolding, italicizing, or underlining them; items that share a common characteristic are organized into a table where the relationship of cells sharing the same row or column and the relationship of each cell to its row and/or column header are necessary for understanding; and so on. Having these structures and these relationships programmatically determined or available in text ensures that information important for comprehension will be perceivable to all.

Auditory cues may be used as well. For example, a chime might indicate the beginning of a new section; a change in voice pitch or speech rate may be used to emphasize important information or to indicate quoted text; etc.

When such relationships are perceivable to one set of users, those relationships can be made to be perceivable to all. One method of determining whether or not information has been properly provided to all users is to access the information serially in different modalities.

If links to glossary items are implemented using anchor elements (or the proper link element for the technology in use) and identified using a different font face, a screen reader user will hear that the item is a link when the glossary term is encountered even though they may not receive information about the change in font face. An on-line catalog may indicate prices using a larger font colored red. A screen reader or person who cannot perceive red, still has the information about the price as long as it is preceded by the currency symbol.

Some technologies do not provide a means to programmatically determine some types of information and relationships. In that case then there should be a text description of the information and relationships. For instance, "all required fields are marked with an asterisk (*)". The text description should be near the information it is describing (when the page is linearized), such as in the parent element or in the adjacent element.

There may also be cases where it may be a judgment call as to whether the relationships should be programmatically determined or be presented in text. However, when technologies support programmatic relationships, it is strongly encouraged that information and relationships be programmatically determined rather than described in text.

Note: It is not required that color values be programmatically determined. The information conveyed by color cannot be adequately presented simply by exposing the value. Therefore, Success Criterion 1.4.1 addresses the specific case of color, rather than Success Criterion 1.3.1.

Specific Benefits of Success Criterion 1.3.1:

  • This Success Criterion helps people with different disabilities by allowing user agents to adapt content according to the needs of individual users.

  • Users who are blind (using a screen reader) benefit when information conveyed through color is also available in text (including text alternatives for images that use color to convey information).

  • Users who are deaf-blind using braille (text) refreshable displays may be unable to access color-dependent information.

Examples of Success Criterion 1.3.1

Related Resources

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.

Techniques and Failures for Success Criterion 1.3.1 - Info and Relationships

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. [begin change]However, it is not necessary to use these particular techniques. Any techniques, whether published by the WCAG group or not, can be sufficient if a) they satisfy the Success Criterion and b) all of the WCAG 2.0 conformance requirements have been met.[end change]

Sufficient Techniques

Instructions: Select the situation below that matches your content. Each situation includes techniques or combinations of techniques that are known and documented to be sufficient for that situation.

Situation A: The technology provides semantic structure to make information and relationships conveyed through presentation programmatically determinable:

  1. G115: Using semantic elements to mark up structure AND H49: Using semantic markup to mark emphasized or special text (HTML)

  2. G117: Using text to convey information that is conveyed by variations in presentation of text

  3. G140: Separating information and structure from presentation to enable different presentations

  4. Making information and relationships conveyed through presentation programmatically determinable using the following techniques:

Situation B: The technology in use does NOT provide the semantic structure to make the information and relationships conveyed through presentation programmatically determinable:

  1. G117: Using text to convey information that is conveyed by variations in presentation of text

  2. FLASH8: Adding a group name to the accessible name of a form control (Flash)

  3. Making information and relationships conveyed through presentation programmatically determinable or available in text using the following techniques:

Additional Techniques (Advisory) for 1.3.1

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.

Common Failures for SC 1.3.1

The following are common mistakes that are considered failures of Success Criterion 1.3.1 by the WCAG Working Group.

Key Terms


rendering of the content in a form to be perceived by users

programmatically determined (programmatically determinable)

determined by software from author-supplied data provided in a way that different user agents, including assistive technologies, can extract and present this information to users in different modalities

Example 1: Determined in a markup language from elements and attributes that are accessed directly by commonly available assistive technology.

Example 2: Determined from technology-specific data structures in a non-markup language and exposed to assistive technology via an accessibility API that is supported by commonly available assistive technology.


meaningful associations between distinct pieces of content

  1. The way the parts of a Web page are organized in relation to each other; and

  2. The way a collection of Web pages is organized