Understanding Success Criterion 1.3.3: Sensory Characteristics

Understanding Success Criterion 1.3.3 Sensory Characteristics

Avoid using only sensory characteristics such as shape, size, color, etc to communicate information to users.

Official Requirements

Success Criterion 1.3.3 Sensory Characteristics (Level A): Instructions provided for understanding and operating content do not rely solely on sensory characteristics of components such as shape, color, size, visual location, orientation, or sound.

For requirements related to color, refer to Guideline 1.4.

Why is it required?

People with visual impairments find it difficult to consume knowledge or navigate websites if they rely only on sensory characteristics such as shape, size, color, or location to communicate instructions to users.

How do we fix it?

Avoid using content that relies solely on sensory aspects such as size, shape orientation, location, or sound to convey instructions to users.

Here is how you can fix them:

  • Provide proper labels names to controls when you are using shapes
  • Provide off-screen text for shape/size/location/orientation to help screen reader users
  • Include text-based cues when you are using sound to convey information

Mistakes to avoid

Here are some examples of poor instructions

  • Click the big round icon to log in 
  • Use the menu on the right of the page
  • Activate the red button to start the game
Picture of Aditya Bikkani

Aditya Bikkani

Aditya is the COO of AELData, a growing technology company in the Digital Publishing and Education sectors. He is also an entrepreneur and founder of an accessibility tool called LERA. A W3C COGA (Cognitive and Learning Disabilities Accessibility) Community Member Aditya contributes to researching methodologies to improve web accessibility and usability for people with cognitive and learning disabilities.

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