Understanding Success Criterion 1.3.6: Identify Purpose

Success Criterion 1.3.6 Identify Purpose (Level AAA): In content implemented using markup languages, the purpose of User Interface Components, icons, and regions can be programmatically determined.


The intent of this success criterion is to support personalization and preferences in order for more people to use the web, communicate, and interact with society.

Familiar terms and symbols are key for users with a limited vocabulary to being able to use the web. However, what is familiar for some users may not be for other users so programmatically associating user-interface components and icons enables people to load a set of symbols that is appropriate for them.

This success criteria requires the author to add the context, propose, and meaning of symbols, regions, buttons, links, and fields so that user agents knows what they do and can adapt them to make them understandable for the user. It is achieved by adding semantics or metadata that provides this context. It is similar to adding role information (as required by 4.2.1) but instead of providing information about what the UI component is (such as an image) it provides information about what the component represents (such as a link to the home page).

Identifying regions of the page allows people to remove or highlight regions with their user agent.

Products for people who are non-vocal often use symbols to help users communicate. These symbols are in fact people's language. Unfortunately, many of these symbols are both subject to copyright and are not interoperable. That means end-users can only use one device, and cannot use content, apps, or assistive technology that has not been made by a single company.

This success criteria enables symbols to be interoperable so that symbol users can understand different content that was not just made by one company. When users' symbols are mapped to the same nodes then user agents can load the user-understandable symbol. That means people could buy the symbols and use them across different devices or applications. (Note that the symbols would still be proprietary, but they could then be interoperable.)


People who benefit have many different cognitive disabilities including:

Meeting this Success Criterion helps users who need extra support or a familiar interface, including the need for:


Related Resources

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.


Each numbered item in this section represents a technique or combination of techniques that the WCAG Working Group deems sufficient for meeting this Success Criterion. However, it is not necessary to use these particular techniques. For information on using other techniques, see Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria, particularly the "Other Techniques" section.

Sufficient Techniques

Advisory Techniques

Although not required for conformance, the following additional techniques should be considered in order to make content more accessible. Not all techniques can be used or would be effective in all situations.

  • Enable user agents to find the version of the content that best fits their needs.
  • Using semantics to identify important features (coga-simplification="simplest").
  • Use of aria-invalid and aria-required.

Key Terms

programmatically determined

determined by software from author-supplied data provided in a way that different user agents, including assistive technologies, can extract and present this information to users in different modalities

Determined in a markup language from elements and attributes that are accessed directly by commonly available assistive technology.

Determined from technology-specific data structures in a non-markup language and exposed to assistive technology via an accessibility API that is supported by commonly available assistive technology.



perceivable, programmatically determined section of content

In HTML, any area designated with a landmark role would be a region.