Sensory Characteristics

Do not rely solely on sensory characteristics such as color, shape, size, visual location, orientation, or sound when providing instructions for understanding or interacting with content.

Examples of Using Sensory Characteristics

  • “Required fields in red”. (Color)
  • “To the left of the picture of the student”. (Spatial relationships)
  • “Click the small image”. (Size)
  • “At the bottom of the second column”. (Position)
  • “Listen for the bell”. (Sound)

Always provide multiple means of understanding if your content is drawing attention to one of those attributes. Use specific text or heading information to reference content on the page. Examples of Describing Content without Using Sensory Characteristics

  • "There is a list of links provided in the About Us section of the page." Note: Use an HTML anchor and link directly to the About Us heading allowing easy access.
  • For required form fields, label each required field with the word "required".
  • "Click the go button"

Guidelines for Sensory Characteristics

  • Avoid relying on senses like sight and hearing for instructions.
  • If you use a sensory characteristic in an instruction, also use another method to describe the instruction.