SC Shortname

Clear Text and Voice


SC Text

clear text and voice: Provide clear typography (text and numbers), punctuation, and voice (speech) for readability and comprehension.

Exception: If a specific typography, punctuation, content (text or voice) is essential.


Suggestion for Priority Level (A/AA/AAA)


Related Glossary additions or changes

Clear typography (font ), punctuation, or voice is one that is:

What Principle and Guideline the SC falls within

We suggest a new guideline under Principle 3 " Provide a clear structure and layout".

Description and Benefits

The intent of this SC is that users do not need to spend extra cognitive function deciphering letters, numbers, and words, and can focus on understanding the meaning of the content. When words are hard to read or discriminate, users with language-related disabilities will fully focus on identifying the letters, and on building the words. They then have to piece together the words to build the sentence. However, there is a limit to how many cognitive tasks a person can do at the same time. If so much energy is put into identifying the words, it is often not possible to also understand the meaning of a sentence.

This may be avoided by making the task of reading and identifying words easier, so that the user can focus on the meaning.

If identifying words takes too much of a user's focus, the content will not be understood, making it not usable.


Layout for Numbers

Check use of white space and punctuation; and characters between numbers. Use of spaces and commas within numbers can change how text-to-speech engines read it. This confuses people with cognitive disabilities.

Where any numbers are presented, their use needs to be considered. If they are representing dates, times, references, telephone numbers, or mathematical notation, their layout impacts on users' understanding. Users need not only to recognize standardized layouts, but also to understand the meaning as the numbers are read aloud by text-to-speech engines. This feature can provide those with dyscalculia, dyslexia, and attention deficit disorder, and those who may be under high-cognitive load or situationally disabled, with a better understanding of the concepts.

 Roman Numerals

Roman Numerals should be presented in upper case if used in isolation.

Roman Numerals can be presented as lower case or upper case, especially when used with musical notation. However, these may not always be recognized by text-to-speech engines, or may be confused with other navigational elements, such as numerical bullet points. Use of Roman Numerals is not always easily understood. The use of this format for isolated numbers impacts on comprehension for those with dyscalculia, dyslexia, and attention deficit disorder, and should be avoided if possible.


Text-to-speech engines will try to read the lower case Roman Numeral as a word, e.g., "vi" instead of "VI" - read as /vie/ instead of six.

Pass example: Roman Numerals presented in upper case if used in isolation.

Note that a blind person may also be dyslexic, or have a language disability.


Related Resources

"Am I making myself clear?" Mencap's guidelines for accessible writing

"Top Five Instructional Tips for Students with Down syndrome"

"Down syndrome and Learning"


Rello et al 2013 -

W3C working group draft F82: Failure of Success Criterion 3.3.2 by visually formatting a set of phone number fields but not including a text label

University of Loughborough DDIG - personal perceptions of dyscalculia and Dyspraxia

Toepoel, V., Das, M. and van Soest, A. 2006. Design of web questionnaires: The effect of layout in rating scales, Tilberg, , The Netherlands: Tilburg University. (Discussion Paper No. 2006‐30, CentERdta) (accessed 5th june, 2015)

Hartley, J. and Betts, L. 2010. Four layouts and a finding: the effects of changes in the order of the verbal labels and the numerical values on Likert‐type scale scores. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 13: 17-27


COGA links

issue papers

COGA Techniques




  1. Are fonts (text and numbers), punctuation, and voice (speech) known to be clear from the WCAG techniques?
  2. If not, can the font, clear punctuation, or voice be changed via an interoperable user setting?
  3. If not, has the font, punctuation, or voice usability been tested via user testing with at least five users with reading disabilities?

Pass result is a yes to one of the above questions.





working groups notes (optional)