This page is in progress -
Why This is Important
Instructions that use multiple different descriptors (such as shape, color, placement, size, etc.) helps people with a diversity of disabilities understand instructions.
Having descriptive instructions is helpful to Blind and visually impaired people, Deaf and hard of hearing people, and those with cognitive or intellectual disabilities.
There is a wide diversity of people who may not be able to see, hear, or experience certain descriptors (e.g. the button is blue, the notification has a doorbell sound, etc.) Therefore, including multiple different types is a better guarantee that people will understand instructions.
This references WCAG criterion 1.3.3 Sensory Characteristics (Level A).
How to Implement This
Note - To be honest, I think this rule may be a somewhat outdated internet tradition from the '90s. We don't typically encourage too many instructions in software development these days because we believe that the design should be so intuitive that it speaks for itself. If you have any feedback on this content please feel free to add in the form below.
The main application of this rule is in writing the help/FAQ guide. Make sure to use more than one descriptor when writing instructions.
These articles help provide more detail on different sensory characteristics.
- Understanding SC 1.3.3 Sensory Characteristics * Digital A11Y
- 1.3.3 - Sensory Characteristics (WCAG 2.1 Level A) | Wuhcag
These writing guides provide helpful direction for writing accessible content.
- Writing for all abilities - Microsoft Style Guide
- Writing for Accessibility | Mailchimp Content Style Guide
- Writing accessible documentation
Martial arts metaphor (I love martial arts and often use metaphors to relate it to product design). In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a grappling martial art, there are a fair number of Blind practitioners and teachers. A best practice that I've heard to teach BJJ Blind folks is to be as descriptive about your actions as possible.
- Vague: put your hand here
- Descriptive: put your right hand on your opponent's right shoulder, reaching as far toward their shoulder blade as you can
How to Test This
Facilitate user testing with people of a wide diversity of disabilities to get feedback on the instructions.
Contribute and Give Feedback
If you would like to provide feedback or contribute content on this resource, please fill out the form below.