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Web Accessibility Guidelines for Status Messages

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 outlines WCAG 2.1’s web accessibility guidelines for status messages.

Web Accessibility Guidelines for Status Messages

People access websites using a variety of assistive technologies, including:

  • Screen readers
  • Screen magnification
  • Speech recognition

As a result, websites should interact well with all these technologies. For example, users should be able to hear status messages through their screen readers or screen magnification software.

Status messages inform users about results of actions they have performed. For instance, after a user submits an online form, a status message may alert them that they need to fill in a required field and resubmit the form. Alternatively, if a user is searching on a website, a status message may announce how many results they have found.

Web designers should create status messages that screen readers and screen magnifiers can perceive and announce. However, this announcement should not move the user’s cursor away from its position on the website.

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.