10. Avoid Using Sensory Characteristics

Create Accessible Design Without Relying on Sensory Characteristics

The most common violation of this accessibility requirement comes in the form of instructions. If your instructions rely solely on spatial relationships, size, position, color, or sound then you are likely causing barriers to access for the non-sighted, low-sighted, and cognitively impaired user. These visual cues rely on a user being able to perceive them which can cause barriers for screen reader and screen magnifier users, as well as add confusion for cognitively impaired users. 

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Incorrect usage of sensory characteristics

Correct usage of sensory characteristics

Best Practice

Avoid the use of spatial relationships, size, position, color, or sound to describe how to consume or interact with your content. Always provide multiple means of understanding if your content is drawing attention to one of those attributes, preferably with the addition of a text equivalent. 

Test

There are no automated or programmatic tests for this requirement. You must read your content to ensure you have not provided instructions that rely on abilities in any single sense (hearing or vision).

Exceptions

None.

Applicable WCAG Success Criteria

SC 1.3.3 Sensory Characteristics