Understanding Success Criterion 3.2.4: Consistent Identification

Success Criterion 3.2.4 Consistent Identification (Level AA): Components that have the same functionality within a set of Web pages are identified consistently.

Intent

The intent of this Success Criterion is to ensure consistent identification of functional components that appear repeatedly within a set of Web pages. A strategy that people who use screen readers use when operating a Web site is to rely heavily on their familiarity with functions that may appear on different Web pages. If identical functions have different labels on different Web pages, the site will be considerably more difficult to use. It may also be confusing and increase the cognitive load for people with cognitive limitations. Therefore, consistent labeling will help.

This consistency extends to the text alternatives. If icons or other non-text items have the same functionality, then their text alternatives should be consistent as well.

If there are two components on a web page that both have the same functionality as a component on another page in a set of web pages, then all 3 must be consistent. Hence the two on the same page will be consistent.

While it is desirable and best practice always to be consistent within a single web page, 3.2.4 only addresses consistency within a set of web pages where something is repeated on more than one page in the set.

Benefits

Examples

Related Resources

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.

Techniques

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. However, it is not necessary to use these particular techniques. For information on using other techniques, see Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria, particularly the "Other Techniques" section.

Sufficient Techniques

  1. G197: Using labels, names, and text alternatives consistently for content that has the same functionality AND following the sufficient techniques for Success Criterion 1.1.1 and sufficient techniques for Success Criterion 4.1.2 for providing labels, names, and text alternatives.
Note

Text alternatives that are "consistent" are not always "identical." For instance, you may have an graphical arrow at the bottom of a Web page that links to the next Web page. The text alternative may say "Go to page 4." Naturally, it would not be appropriate to repeat this exact text alternative on the next Web page. It would be more appropriate to say "Go to page 5". Although these text alternatives would not be identical, they would be consistent, and therefore would satisfy this Success Criterion.

A single non-text-content-item may be used to serve different functions. In such cases, different text alternatives are necessary and should be used. Examples can be commonly found with the use of icons such as check marks, cross marks, and traffic signs. Their functions can be different depending on the context of the Web page. A check mark icon may function as "approved", "completed", or "included", to name a few, depending on the situation. Using "check mark" as text alternative across all Web pages does not help users understand the function of the icon. Different text alternatives can be used when the same non-text content serves multiple functions.

Advisory Techniques

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.

Failures

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

Key Terms

same functionality

same result when used

A submit "search" button on one Web page and a "find" button on another Web page may both have a field to enter a term and list topics in the Web site related to the term submitted. In this case, they would have the same functionality but would not be labeled consistently.