Hidden Accessibility Message Using CSS

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While I was creating a Woot Checker for myself and you all, I was scanning through the page source code and saw something I had never seen before. I frequently browse the source code of the "big" websites but had never stumbled upon a hidden accessibility message.

Why a hidden accessibility message? Because a hidden accessibility message is shown to the visually-impaired user and no one else. This message also shows your visually-impaired user that you care about their browsing experience. This easy additional can gain you the respect of your users.

The XHTML Code

<p class="accessibility">
Welcome to the David Walsh Blog!  This website was created to reach every audience possible.
Please contact me at david@davidwalsh.name to let me know if I can do anything to further
improve your experience on this website.
</p>

The CSS Code

.accessibility { position: absolute; left: -9999px; font-size: small; }

Remember to place the paragraph at the top of your page's XHTML code!

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Discussion

  1. Cool tip… I am going to add this to my sites.

  2. Nice tip. I also enjoy browsing the source code of websites and here is another accessibility tip I found useful, if you have an accessibility page:

    I have not seen any literature on this however.

  3. Jay

    I also peruse websites source often. I guess just doing “display: none;” won’t work bc some screen readers ignore that.

  4. CJ Barnes

    Just make sure if you use this tip that you place it below a “skip to content” link; otherwise screenreader users will have to listen to the same “helpful” accessibility message over and over again, which could get really irritating…

  5. Jay

    good point CJ

  6. Thank you for sharing that great idea CJ!

  7. Eileen Tudaleff

    Slick AND considerate.

  8. some additional improvements i recommend:

    .accessibility {
    position: absolute;
    left: -1000px;
    top: -1000px;
    width: 0;
    height: 0;
    overflow: hidden;
    display: inline;
    }

  9. I have seen potential problems (albeit a few years ago)… A major UK retailer’s informational website had message like this at the top of all its pages and sure enough Google indexed virtaully every single page with this block of text as the page description.

    Admittedly, the pages lacked a META description which may have alleviated this problem.

    My preference is to simply put this information onto a separate Accessibility statement page and link to it. So at the top of my page I have a skip to content link, a sitemap link and an accessibility statement link – all hidden with CSS.

    The great thing about using a class on your hidden element, as opposed to an id, is that you can reuse it on other elements throughout your site.

  10. Matt is right in his comment. This technique is widely used in wordpress themes to make indexing on google and other search engines easier and more effective. This is a true referencing tool.

  11. I am a keen advocate of using correct tags for website design. ie: h1, h2, h3, p, em, address. ..etc

    For the last couple of years i have been using the company logo as a bgimage on the h1, and putting the company name inside the h1, then setting text-indent:-1000em.

    This hides the text and just shows the graphic logo for all users, and yet tells search engines and readers who disable stylesheets the company name.

    Thanks, Chloe.

  12. Neicleavere

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