Checkpoint 1.3.3 Sensory Characteristics

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


Instructions that use shape or location to provide context can help users understand content. However, such sensory characteristics should not be the only means of conveying information, because users who lack the ability to fully use one or more of their senses may not understand the meaning. Providing additional information beyond sensory details will allow all users to better understand the instructions and context being conveyed.

When elements are described using visual cues such as shape, size, or physical location (e.g., "select the button on the right"), it can make it easier for a sighted user and some people who have cognitive disabilities to locate the elements.  But someone with a visual disability may not be able to perceive those visual cues. The element must also be described in another non-visual way, such as by its label (e.g., "select the Delete button on the right").

Refer to Understanding SC 1.3.3 for more information (external link to WCAG).

Development Techniques

Review the General techniques as well as other tabs applicable to your technology.  Prioritize the use of technology-specific techniques, and implement the General techniques as needed. You are always required to find, understand and implement accessible code techniques to meet the checkpoint. The documented techniques and supplements are not exhaustive; they illustrate acceptable ways to achieve the spirit of the checkpoint. If numbered, techniques are in order of preference, with recommended techniques listed first. Where used, IBM information that complements the WCAG techniques is indicated as supplemental.

General techniques

Any item in this section represents a technique deemed sufficient. Ensure you review WCAG Common Failures to avoid development mistakes.

Note: Examples of sensory language that triggers alerts in the Dynamic Assessment Plug-in (DAP) can be found under rule G502 (internal IBM link).

Web (HTML, ARIA, CSS) techniques

There are no specific Web (HTML, ARIA, CSS) techniques for this checkpoint. Refer to the General techniques section.

Mobile Native (iOS) techniques

There are no specific Mobile Native iOS techniques for this checkpoint. Refer to the General techniques section.

Eclipse techniques

There are no specific Eclipse techniques for this checkpoint. Refer to the General techniques section.

Windows-based (MSAA+IA2) techniques

There are no specific Windows-based (MSAA+IA2) techniques for this checkpoint. Refer to the General techniques section.

Most links in this checklist reside outside at the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. W3C Recommendation 11 December 2008:

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