Avoiding Sensory Cues

Understanding content or interacting with page elements should not rely solely on sensory indicators such as shape, size, visual location, orientation or sound. While screen readers and other assistive devices are capable of describing some sensory elements, those descriptions likely will not make sense to those using the devices.

Visual Cues

Visual cues should be avoided because those using screen readers may find instructions such as “Required fields are in red” meaningless. When creating page content, avoid referencing:

  • color,
  • shape,
  • size,
  • orientation and
  • spacial position.


If you are describing the location of elements on a page that uses proper tab and read order (e.g. Select from the links below), visual cues are appropriate.

If you are providing tactile descriptions such as the shape of physical hardware, you may use visual cues.

Auditory Cues

Auditory cues are less typical than visual, but create the same accessibility issues. If you have provided audio within content, avoid requiring users to provide input based on specific auditory features such as pitch, volume, length and other characteristics that specifically require the user to be able to hear the audio.