Consistent Identification
Success Criterion 3.2.4 (Level AA)

Question

Do you provide consistent labels and alternative text for like / repetitive components?

Why is this important

When interacting with components within a website or web application many users rely on the text labels, alternative text and position of components to navigate through the site or application. If components that serve the same purpose such as search fields appear more than once across a website or application, and are labeled differently, screen reader users, those with cognitive/learning disabilities and others may find the site/application confusing, overwhelming and difficult to use.

Whom does it benefit?

Example 1:

As a user of speech to text assistive technology
I want all components to have consistent, contextual labels and or link text
so that I can correctly identify them in order to navigate through the site or application easily and without confusion.

Example 2:

As a person with a cognitive/learning disability
I want all images to have consistent alternative text
so that I can interact with the web page without confusion and have a predictable experience.

What should you do?

Be consistent when designing web page components, such as links or icons, so that items of identical functions have identical labels throughout the whole web portal. The same must be applied to accessibility features, such as alternative text, which has to be identical throughout the page for the same component, and also always mirror the icon or image it refers to.

How do you do it?

Ensure consistency between different web pages of your site for all of their components and features, including those regarding accessibility. A good solution is to use both text links and icon to link pages, making sure that the link and the icon should be identical in their description, and next to each other so that screen readers can parse them correctly. Another solution is to implement strict usage of a defined design pack, that will ensure that a specific function (link, download button etc) always has the same icon on every page of the website.

Need technical guidance?

Technical guidance is available for implementing this Success Criterion at the Understanding Success Criterion 3.2.4 - Consistent Identification page.