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Web Accessibility Guidelines for Pointer Gestures

Under the Information and Communications Standards of the AODA, organizations must make their websites and web-based apps accessible. Organizations must do so by making their websites compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA. This international standard gives web developers guidelines on how to make their webpages accessible to computer users with disabilities. However, updates to the Information and Communications Standards could require organizations to comply with more recent versions of WCAG. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) released an improved version of these guidelines, version 2.1, in 2018. Moreover, the W3C will release WCAG version 2.2 in September 2022. This article will outline WCAG 2.1’s web accessibility guidelines for pointer gestures.

Web Accessibility Guidelines for Pointer Gestures

Designers should ensure that people can operate their websites or apps using various input devices and assistive technologies. For instance, some people operate websites with a single pointer for input, using technologies such as:

  • Head pointers
  • Eye-gaze systems
  • Speech-controlled mouse emulators

As a result, designers should create websites that are compatible with various input devices and other assistive technologies.

For instance, some websites require users to move their pointers along specific paths. For example, some path-based gestures include:

  • Drawing a specific shape
  • Moving from one location on-screen to another, then to a third location, in a prescribed order

However, many input devices cannot navigate in these ways. Therefore, designers should avoid creating interfaces that require these gestures.

Likewise, some websites require gestures using more than one (1) pointer at a time. For example, multi-pointer gestures include:

  • Two-finger point zoom
  • Split-finger tap (when one finger stays still and another finger taps)
  • Tapping or swiping with two (2) or three (3) fingers

Input devices with one (1) pointer cannot perform these gestures. As a result, designers should provide ways for users to operate their websites without using these gestures. For example, gestures that a wider variety of users can perform include:

  • One click or tap
  • Double clicking or double tapping
  • Long press
  • Click and hold

Advanced Requirements

The WCAG webpage provides the full list of requirements, as well as technical guidance on how to implement them. The AODA only requires websites to follow guidelines in version 2.0, level AA. However, the WCAG webpage provides guidelines at level AAA. While websites do not need to follow these guidelines, they can choose to follow them as a best practice. Websites that follow more guidelines have the chance to welcome more visitors and do more online business.