Empty heading error when "Show Title" deselected

We are using WAVE Web Accessibility Tool to check for accessibility issues in our Pressbooks titles. A common error we’re finding is that if the author elected not to “show title,” there are empty header and H1 tags for the title in the book and this is causing a WAVE error:

Would like to request that using this feature removes the tag from the HTML.

Full error code:

Empty heading

What It Means

A heading contains no content.

Why It Matters

Some users, especially keyboard and screen reader users, often navigate by heading elements. An empty heading will present no information and may introduce confusion.

How to Fix It

Ensure that all headings contain informative content.

The Algorithm… in English

A heading element is present that contains no text (or only spaces) and no images with alternative text.

Standards and Guidelines

For my accessibility checks, I stopped using tools like WAVE, and started using a tool from Deque called Axe Dev Tools.

One of the things that I like about Axe Dev Tools is that I find it has fewer “false positives” where sometimes other accessibility checkers I have used have said there was a problem when there really wasn’t, and the other reason I really like Axe Dev Tools is that for every problem it gives it a severity, and has a nice basic informational page about the error. I feel like it has really helped me step up my accessibility game because I learn alot from the errors it finds and their explanations.

I am just sharing, because Axe Dev Tools organizes all errors into three big buckets, which are really helpful to me: WCAG 2.1 AAA, WCAG 2.1 AA, and Best Practices.

When I recreate your issue, Axe Dev Tools does show the same error that you are describing “Headings should not be empty.”

It classifies the error as a Minor error, something that isn’t really codified in WCAG 2.1, but at the same time isn’t best practice. They give this link for more information: Headings must not be empty Axe Rules | Deque University | Deque Systems

It just might add context to why Pressbooks hasn’t prioritized this, because the standard they hold themselves to WCAG 2.1, and then they try to exceed that whenever they can, because they really have a nice accessibility mindset.

My guess is that when they hide or show the title, they have to use a CSS trick that they know will work consistently across PDF and EPUB, and they may be prioritizing similarity across all output formats, but thats just a guess based on what I know about Pressbooks and the team.

Hi @elizabeth.kelly – thanks for reporting this. We have a bug isse filed in our backlog for this: Blank tag remains on page after turning off "Show Title" · Issue #2582 · pressbooks/pressbooks · GitHub. Appreciate you bringing accessibility issues to our attention!

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