Web pages are navigated in different ways. Few use keyboard only, few depend on assistive technologies such as screen readers, few browse the content on hand held devices. No matter how the users navigate and interact with the web content the meaning of the content should not be changed due to the sequence of order.
Within a section of a page, if the user is reading a story, the sequence must be in sequential order. Similarly if the user user is filling up a form, and the order in which the elements are navigated miss the sequence the user may be confused.In a registration form the sequence of forms can be Salutation, First name, last name and email address. It cannot be First name, salutation, email address and last name.
In some cases when invoking a button opens a modal window or an overlay. If the focus is not shifted to the newly opened modal or the overlay. Screen reader users an users who depend on screen magnifiers miss to understand that the new window is displayed if the focus is not shifted to these sections.
In real time many similar scenarios can be observed. Since we cannot explain each one of them, remember that if the user looses the context of an action then it is considered as an accessibility problem.
Validation for reading order
- Open the page on a browser when screen reader is switched on.
- Navigate the entire content using up and down arrow keys.
- Check if any sections of the page does not have a sequential content order. Usually the reading order wil be left to right and top to bottom, but it is not required to be visualy the same as long as the sequence of the content is meaningful.
- If the meaning of the content is not understood due to illogical sequence it is an accessibility violation. Else this success criteria is passed.
Validation for newly added content
- Open the page on the browser when the screen reader is switched on.
- Check for any elements that add new content on the page upon activation, Eg: In a product detail page, add to cart button adds item to the cart and increases the count to the cart link
- Check if the newly added content is before the activated item in the DOM order. If yes,
- Check if the newly added content is informed to assistive technology users.
- IF the message is conveyed to the user it is not an accessibility violation, else it’s a failure.
- If the newly added content is after the activated button in the DOM order, user will be able to read it in the forward navigation and so do not bother about it.
WCAG Success Criteria
- 1.3.2 Meaningful Sequence (Level A)