Success Criterion 3.1.4 (Level AAA)


Does your site or application provide users with a way to access expanded definitions of any abbreviations and acronyms used?

Why is this important

Abbreviations and acronyms can have multiple meanings and pronunciations that are inconsistent with the usual language rules. This can cause confusion to users trying to understand content, and may also be conveyed incorrectly by assistive technology. It is important that the meaning of the abbreviation is clear to the user and that they can access an acronym’s expanded form.

Whom does it benefit?

Example 1:

As a person with low vision relying on a screen magnifier,
I want to be able to understand the meaning of an abbreviation without context
so that I can read through the information being presented without having to trace back through what I have already read for clarity.

Example 2:

As a person who has trouble decoding words,
I want to be able to easily identify the word and its meaning
so that I can read through the information being presented without being tripped up by abbreviations.

Example 3:

As a person who has trouble remembering acronyms,
I want acronyms expanded when first used
so that I can read through the content without having to look up what an acronym stands for to understand its use.

What should you do?

  • Review your content for abbreviations and acronyms
  • Include access to the extended form of an abbreviation or acronym
  • Enable users to search your content/web application/website to find the expanded form of the abbreviation or acronym when it’s not provided in context

How do you do it?

  • When introducing abbreviations or acronyms that will be used throughout the content, make sure to write them in their expanded form in the first instance, followed by the abbreviation or acronym in parenthesis.
    • For example: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
  • Provide links from the abbreviation or acronym to a website dictionary or glossary that will provide the expanded form
  • Providing definitions for abbreviations by using the <abbr> element

Need technical guidance?

Technical guidance is available for implementing this Success Criterion at the Understanding Success Criterion 3.1.4 - Abbreviations page.

Additional Resources to help you: