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Rule n° 184 - Typographic symbols have an appropriate alternative.

The use of web fonts (downloadable fonts) has considerably facilitated the use of a technical trick that is highly appreciated from a performance point of view: replacing the images of various icons with a graphic UTF-8 character obtained using a specific font. However, this entails significant risks, particularly in terms of accessibility, if you do not take care to provide a textual alternative to this character, which is diverted from its default meaning.

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  • Enable users in environments where the CSS fonts used to display symbols are not reproduced (text browsers, screen readers or browsers with the images disabled) to understand the meanings of those symbols.
  • Enable bots to exploit the information carried by those symbols (to reference, index and perform machine translation on the alternatives).
  • Improve the accessibility of content for people with disabilities.
  • Improve the way content is taken into account by search engines and indexing tools.


Provide hidden content for display via CSS for all information conveyed by the use of a specific font.


Examine the code directly to check that each icon displayed through a font has an alternative in the HTML content.

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