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I'm a screen reader user, and am extremely sad to notice today that on a page presenting questions, questions are no longer inside an heading tag <hX>.

Example of such a page with the tag accessibility: https://stackoverflow.com/tags/a11y

That's extremely sad because such headings allow to navigate very quickly through questions using the navigate by heading feature of my screen reader. Using this technique, I can be very efficient choosing what to open and what to skip. This, whether when searching for a problem, or to find questions to answer to.

With the new layout, I'm obliged to go through the page with arrow keys or many gestures, which is much less efficient. This is a major step down in the accessibility of Stack Exchange.

Due to that change, I would judge its accessibility / screen reader usability ranking suddenly going down from "quite good (6/10)" to "pretty bad" (2/10).

Please rollback!

I'm probably going to visit Stack Overflow much less often if headings aren't back soon.

I'm currently using Google Chrome on Windows 10, screen reader Jaws 2022

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  • 10
    There's no reason not to use header tags here, but you're entirely correct and the titles are in plain <a> tags now. Feb 9 at 16:45
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    Putting question titles in single links isn't sufficient Imo, since there are a lot of links, which all are legitimate (tags, posting user, etc.). Navigating only with tab is unpractical for that reason, and btw it's a reason why tab is less used by more experienced screen reader users (see webAIM surveys for more info)
    – QuentinC
    Feb 9 at 16:55
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    Agreed that this is a regression. Is h3 the appropriate heading level or would something like h4 work? Feb 9 at 17:35
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    @AaronShekey Neither? What about H2 so that headers are in sequential order? (H1 is "all questions" or "top questions" depending on the page.)
    – Laurel
    Feb 9 at 18:40
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    H2 should be the appropriate heading in order to be compliant with WCAG recommandations. However, for the purpose of navigation by heading with a screen reader, any heading H1-6 will work almost the same. I don't know any valid reason to use anything else than H2 though (remember that most of CSS doesn't matter at all for screen readers).
    – QuentinC
    Feb 9 at 20:17

1 Answer 1

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We’ve restored the original h3 on the question title. This gives us room for an h1 and h2 somewhere in the page layout. Sorry about the regression!

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    I know that thank you comments are normally not welcome, but I must still give you a special mention for your reactiveness. It's important to tell when it doesn't work, but it's also important to tell when it's well done. So, thank you very much for having been so quick in fixing this issue. This encourages posting further requests regarding accessibility in the future.
    – QuentinC
    Feb 10 at 6:28
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    We have a long way to go on accessibility. But, we’re actively building out internal processes to improve things moving forward, starting with an external audit of our approach. There may be regressions along the way, and I sincerely apologize for those. However, the future is a much more accessible Stack Overflow 🤗 Feb 10 at 17:49

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