Techniques for WCAG 2.0

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G138: Using semantic markup whenever color cues are used

Important Information about Techniques

See Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria for important information about the usage of these informative techniques and how they relate to the normative WCAG 2.0 success criteria. The Applicability section explains the scope of the technique, and the presence of techniques for a specific technology does not imply that the technology can be used in all situations to create content that meets WCAG 2.0.


All technologies that support color and text.

This technique relates to:


The objective of this technique is to combine color and semantic markup to convey information. Most users can quickly scan the content to locate information conveyed by using color. For users who cannot see color, semantic markup can provide a different type of cue. User agents can then make this type of structure perceivable to the user, for example using a different visual presentation for different types of structures or by using a different voice or pitch in an auditory presentation.

Most user agents will visually distinguish text that has been identified using semantic markup. Some assistive technologies provide a mechanism for determining the characteristics of content that has been created using proper semantic markup.


Example 1: Color and strong emphasis for required form fields

An HTML form contains several required fields. The labels for the required fields are displayed in red. In addition, the text of each label is marked up with the STRONG element for stronger emphasis. The instructions for completing the form indicate that "all required fields are displayed in red and are emphasized", followed by an example.


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For any content where color differences are used to convey information:

  1. Check that the same information is available through semantic markup.

Expected Results

If this is a sufficient technique for a success criterion, failing this test procedure does not necessarily mean that the success criterion has not been satisfied in some other way, only that this technique has not been successfully implemented and can not be used to claim conformance.