Web Accessibility Testing

Heading Levels


Headings 1-6 should be used to provide a hierarchical structure to web documents.  Each major section or topic within a document should be introduced with an HTML heading, and headings should be properly nested.  No levels should be skipped in a heading sequence: for example,<h2> is an appropriate child of <h1>.

Why is this an accessibility issue?

Users of screen reader technology rely on heading levels to determine the outline of a page.  A well-developed page outline helps screen reader users to navigate quickly through sections of a site to reach the content they seek.

Testing Methodology

  • Ensure that pages begin with a descriptive heading or title, marked up as <h1>;
  • Examine pages for logical and hierarchical heading structure;
  • Determine whether any logical heading levels are skipped;
  • Determine whether headings are used for stylistic, rather than structural purposes


  • WAVE Toolbar (Outline)
    • Reveals document outline; highlights missing headings
  • Web Developer Toolbar
    • Reveals document outline; highlights missing headings


A website or application meets structured heading standards if:

  • All page sections begin with a heading;
  • All headings are nested appropriately, according to heading level;
  • Headings are not used for formatting, sizing, or other stylistic purposes
  • No other barriers are presented by the use or misuse of HTML headings