Guideline 1.4 Distinguishable

Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background

1.4.1 Use of Color

Level A
Color is not used as the only visual means of conveying information, indicating an action, prompting a response, or distinguishing a visual element.

1.4.2 Audio Control

Level A

If any audio on a Web page plays automatically for more than 3 seconds, either a mechanism is available to pause or stop the audio, or a mechanism is available to control audio volume independently from the overall system volume level.

Note: Since any content that does not meet this success criterion can interfere with a user's ability to use the whole page, all content on the Web page (whether or not it is used to meet other success criteria) must meet this success criterion.

1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum)

Level AA

The visual presentation of text and images of text has a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1, except for the following:

  • Large Text:  Large-scale text and images of large-scale text have a contrast ratio of at least 3:1;
  • Incidental:  Text or images of text that are part of an inactive user interface component, that are pure decoration, that are not visible to anyone, or that are part of a picture that contains significant other visual content, have no contrast requirement.
  • Logotypes: Text that is part of a logo or brand name has no contrast requirement.

1.4.4 Resize Text

Level AA
Except for captions and images of text, text can be resized without assistive technology up to 200 percent without loss of content or functionality.

1.4.5 Images of Text

Level AA

If the technologies being used can achieve the visual presentation, text is used to convey information rather than images of text except for the following:

  • Customizable: The image of text can be visually customized to the user's requirements;
  • Essential: A particular presentation of text is essential to the information being conveyed.

Note: Logotypes (text that is part of a logo or brand name) are considered essential.

1.4.6 Contrast (Enhanced)

Level AAA
The visual presentation of text and images of text has a contrast ratio of at least 7:1, except for the following:
  • Large Text: Large-scale text and images of large-scale text have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1;
  • Incidental: Text or images of text that are part of an inactive user interface component, that are pure decoration, that are not visible to anyone, or that are part of a picture that contains significant other visual content, have no contrast requirement.
  • Logotypes: Text that is part of a logo or brand name has no minimum contrast requirement.

1.4.7 Low or No Background Audio

Level AAA
For prerecorded audio-only content that (1) contains primarily speech in the foreground, (2) is not an audio CAPTCHA or audio logo, and (3) is not vocalization intended to be primarily musical expression such as singing or rapping, at least one of the following is true:
  • No Background: The audio does not contain background sounds.
  • Turn Off: The background sounds can be turned off.
  • 20 dB: The background sounds are at least 20 decibels lower than the foreground speech content, with the exception of occasional sounds that last for only one or two seconds.
Note: Per the definition of "decibel," background sound that meets this requirement will be approximately four times quieter than the foreground speech content.

1.4.8 Visual Presentation

Level AAA
For the visual presentation of blocks of text, a mechanism is available to achieve the following:
  • Foreground and background colors can be selected by the user.
  • Width is no more than 80 characters or glyphs (40 if CJK).
  • Text is not justified (aligned to both the left and the right margins).
  • Line spacing (leading) is at least space-and-a-half within paragraphs, and paragraph spacing is at least 1.5 times larger than the line spacing.
  • Text can be resized without assistive technology up to 200 percent in a way that does not require the user to scroll horizontally to read a line of text on a full-screen window.

1.4.9 Images of Text (No Exception)

Level AAA
Images of text are only used for pure decoration or where a particular presentation of text is essential to the information being conveyed.

Note: Logotypes (text that is part of a logo or brand name) are considered essential.

1.4.10 Reflow

Level AA

Content can be presented without loss of information or functionality, and without requiring scrolling in two dimensions for:

  • Vertical scrolling content at a width equivalent to 320 CSS pixels;
  • Horizontal scrolling content at a height equivalent to 256 CSS pixels;

Except for parts of the content which require two-dimensional layout for usage or meaning.

Note: 320 CSS pixels is equivalent to a starting viewport width of 1280 CSS pixels wide at 400% zoom. For web content which are designed to scroll horizontally (e.g. with vertical text), the 256 CSS pixels is equivalent to a starting viewport height of 1024px at 400% zoom.

Note: Examples of content which require two-dimensional layout are images, maps, diagrams, video, games, presentations, data tables, and interfaces where it is necessary to keep toolbars in view while manipulating content.

1.4.11 Non-text Contrast

Level AA

The visual presentation of the following have a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 against adjacent color(s):

  • User Interface Components: Visual information used to indicate states and boundaries of user interface components, except for inactive components or where the appearance of the component is determined by the user agent and not modified by the author;
  • Graphical Objects: Parts of graphics required to understand the content, except when a particular presentation of graphics is essential to the information being conveyed.

1.4.12 Text Spacing

Level AA

In content implemented using markup languages that support the following text style properties, no loss of content or functionality occurs by setting all of the following and by changing no other style property:

  • Line height (line spacing) to at least 1.5 times the font size;
  • Spacing following paragraphs to at least 2 times the font size;
  • Letter spacing (tracking) to at least 0.12 times the font size;
  • Word spacing to at least 0.16 times the font size.

Exception: Human languages and scripts that do not make use of one or more of these text style properties in written text can conform using only the properties that exist for that combination of language and script.

1.4.13 Content on Hover or Focus

Level AA

Where receiving and then removing pointer hover or keyboard focus triggers additional content to become visible and then hidden, the following are true:

  • Dismissable: A mechanism is available to dismiss the additional content without moving pointer hover or keyboard focus, unless the additional content communicates an input error or does not obscure or replace other content;
  • Hoverable: If pointer hover can trigger the additional content, then the pointer can be moved over the additional content without the additional content disappearing;
  • Persistent: The additional content remains visible until the hover or focus trigger is removed, the user dismisses it, or its information is no longer valid.

Exception: The visual presentation of the additional content is controlled by the user agent and is not modified by the author.

Note: Custom tooltips, sub-menus, and other nonmodal popups that display on hover and focus are examples of additional content covered by this criterion.

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