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Technique F26: Failure of Success Criterion 1.3.3 due to using a graphical symbol alone to convey information

About this Technique

This technique relates to 1.3.3: Sensory Characteristics (Failure).

This failure applies to all technologies.


The objective of this technique is to show how using a graphical symbol to convey information can make content difficult to comprehend. A graphical symbol may be an image, an image of text or a pictorial or decorative character symbol (glyph) which imparts information nonverbally. Examples of graphical symbols include an image of a red circle with a line through it, a "smiley" face, or a glyph which represents a check mark, arrow, or other symbol but is not the character with that meaning.

Assistive technology users may have difficulty determining the meaning of the graphical symbol. If a graphical symbol is used to convey information, provide an alternative using features of the technology or use a different mechanism that can be marked with an alternative to represent the graphical symbol. For example, an image with a text alternative can be used instead of the glyph.


Example 1: Glyphs Used to Indicate Status

A shopping cart uses two simple glyphs to indicate whether an item is available for immediate shipment. A circle indicates that the item is in stock and ready to ship. An square indicates that the item is currently on back order and not available for immediate shipment. The instructions above items refer to the circle and square as the sole means to differentiating whether an item is available.



For each instruction that refers to non-text marks that convey information:

  1. Check whether there are other means to determine the information conveyed by the non-text marks.

Expected Results

  • If #1 is false, then this failure condition applies and the content fails this Success Criterion.
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