How do you find your way around a document or a page? You need items to help you navigate, like page numbers or a marker that tells you you’re at the bottom of the page. But even those navigation items are not always accessible. That’s why “navigation before the end of the page” has been added as a success criterion in the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG): 2.4.13: Navigation before the end of the page.
What exactly does success criterion 2.4.13 mean? And, more importantly, how do you make sure your website complies with WCAG 2.4.13? In this article we zoom in on this success criterion of WCAG 2.2.
The context of success criterion 2.4.13
The complete set of web guidelines is divided into four different principles: observable, controllable, understandable and robust. And each principle consists of guidelines. Success criterion 2.4.13 falls under the principle ‘operable’ and the guideline ‘navigable’.
Navigable’ refers to the use of websites in other ways than with a mouse or with ‘touch’ gestures on a mobile device. For example: using a keyboard to navigate a website, using a screen reader to read the content and using voice control to navigate the website. If you have met all the components of this criterion, then you have ensured that all users can use the website and that it is accessible.
A final way to distinguish between the WCAG guidelines is by level: A, AA and AAA. The guidelines from levels A and AA are mandatory for organizations that fall under the legislation. The criterion ‘2.4.13 – navigation before the end of the page’ falls under level A.
The purpose of the success criterion 2.4.13
The goal of criterion 2.4.13 is to allow all users to find the same web content using page break locators, regardless of how the content is viewed. With traditional printed media, page numbering is a convenient way to (re)find information. With web content, page numbering is often not used. And if it is, it is possible that page numbers shift with web content when users choose to enlarge fonts.
By allowing users of the digital version of content to navigate through pages, you ensure that the content is clear for all users to use. This is especially beneficial for users of a screen reader or users who view the content in an enlarged format.
Meeting success criterion 2.4.13
When version 2.2 of WCAG comes into force (probably from June 2022), success criterion 2.4.13 will be included in accessibility studies.
The criterion – and therefore the survey – will mainly focus on web content that is formatted as PDF or EPUB, although not exclusively. Indeed, Criterion 2.4.13 is aimed at all web content with page break locators. Therefore, use the appropriate HTML elements and ‘tags’ to structure content.
Read more at the W3C website.