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Accessibility rule: HTML element is deprecated or obsolete, explained

Modified on: Wed, 24 May, 2023 at 2:24 PM

Note: This rule is a Siteimprove best practice and is not required for conformance to any accessibility requirements. You can read more about this rule in the technical documentation here

HTML elements are updated over time, and older versions of elements are deprecated before becoming obsolete. If a deprecated or obsolete element is used, it may create usability issues with assistive technologies, make information inaccessible, or behave in an unintended way.

What is the difference between obsolete and deprecated?

A deprecated feature is something that you should not use, but browsers should keep supporting it. An obsolete feature, on the other hand, is something that is listed for historical purposes. While browser support for obsolete features is not required, it often still exists. 

The following elements are either deprecated or obsolete:

<acronym>, <applet>, <basefont>, <bgsound>, <big>, <blink>, <center>, <content>, <dir>, <font>, <frame>, <frameset>, <hgroup>, <image>, <keygen>, <marquee>, <menuitem>, <nobr>, <noembed>, <noframes>, <plaintext>, <rb>, <rtc>, <shadow>, <spacer>, <strike>, <tt>, and <xmp>

Who is impacted by this barrier?

Assistive technologies are designed to work with the most up-to-date version of HTML. Using deprecated or obsolete elements can cause compatibility issues and prevent the user from accessing information.

Some elements are also deprecated because of the poor user experience they provide. The marquee element used to insert a scrolling area of text on websites was deprecated as scrolling text is very difficult to read and click on. This particularly impacts users with vision, motor, or cognitive impairments.

How can you fix this issue?

Replace or remove deprecated and obsolete HTML elements. 

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