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Silent / Hidden Automatically Updating Information

From: Bailey, Bruce <Bailey@Access-Board.gov>
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2009 09:12:25 -0500
Message-ID: <23EB0B5A59FF804E9A219B2C4EF3AE3D012A0D97@Access-Exch.Access-Board.gov>
To: "WCAG" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

I am thinking of a situation where a web app form element silently fills
in data elsewhere on the form without explicitly alerting the end user.
Assuming no other problems, like unexpected change of context, do we
have an SC which requires that auto-updating data be proactively exposed
to the end user?

This is pretty standard AJAX behavior, but it is a problem that AT users
are experiencing disproportionately.  It is altogether too easy for a
user to submit data that may be visually pretty obvious, but easy to
miss when using screen magnification or screen reader (since the
automatically updated information is hidden off screen or made silent by
default by purposeful design).

I am thinking maybe we missed this, since some aspect of the behavior is
often desirable.  Do we have something documented about this as far as
best practices go?

SC 2.2.2 (which is actually in the Enough Time GL 2.2) is pretty much a
requirement for the opposite behavior.

Updated information which does not interrupt the end-user would not
violate 3.2.1 On Focus or 3.2.2 On Input.

Being able to review a form for changes is required by 4.1.2 Name, Role,
Value -- but there might be no indication that reviewing the form is

Arguably, leaving out details that a form has automatically updated
fields violates <q>instructions are provided when content requires user
input</q> (3.3.2 Labels or Instructions) but that feels *very* tenuous
to me.

It is fine if I have just created an action item for myself, but then
where would be the home for such a best practice advisory?
Received on Thursday, 8 January 2009 14:09:27 UTC

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