1.3.3 Sensory Characteristics (Level A)

Write clear instructions that incorporate multiple senses. No instructions should rely solely on the ability to perceive shape, size, visual location, orientation, or sound.

What you need to know

  • Be deliberate and purposeful when writing instructions on your website.
  • Attempt to include a text reference (e.g. “subscribe button”) with every set of instructions. Remember that some people will not be able to:
    • Tell what shape an object is.
    • Perceive an object is positioned.
    • Hear an audible indicator.

What you need to do

Incorporate multiple ways to perceive instructions.

Not all instructions will take the form of direct statements. WCAG uses the example of a data table and providing both a specific background color and icon shape to provide information. Here are some good and bad examples of sensory instructions.

Bad examples:

  • Click on the button to your right to go to the next page.
  • You can search for additional information using the search bar at the bottom.
  • Click on the rectangle button to subscribe.

Good examples:

  • Click on the green button labeled “next page” slightly below and to the right of this text.
  • Use the rectangle search bar on the bottom left of this page inside the footer area to search for additional information.
  • Click on the blue rectangle button marked “subscribe” directly below this line to subscribe.


Read the full explanation of success criterion 1.3.3 on

Related Resource

Check out “Color and Sensory Characteristics” from CSUN’s Universal Design Center for more information about this success criteria.