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WCAG 2.2.1: Timing Adjustable (Take Your Time)


We're finally done talking about keyboards! Hold onto your hats, because we're about to get into WCAG 2.2., which is perhaps even more of an edge-of-your seat thriller than the last few sections. 2.2 stresses the importance of allowing users the time they need to enjoy the content on your site.

WCAG 2.2.1: Timing Adjustable - The Basics

If some of the content on your page is time-dependent, such as a news site that automatically refreshes after a given period of time or an animation containing disappearing text, it may be hard for people experiencing some visual, physical, or cognitive limitations to accomplish the required action before the time limit expires. For this reason, WCAG recommends you don't include any time-dependent functionality on your webpage at all.

However, if it's crucial, then this guideline asks that you implement one of the following options:

  • The user is able to pause or disable the time limit before it begins counting down.
  • The user is able to change the duration of the limit before it begins counting down.
  • The user is warned at least 20 seconds before the time expires and given the choice to extend the limit to a minimum of 10 times its original length.

Let's revisit those two examples I mentioned earlier in this section. Here's the landing page for New York Magazine.

[Source link: http://nymag.com/]

Imagine that the world's largest cheese-making competition is in the final round of judging. Cheese enthusiasts around the globe wait nervously to see who will be the scion of a new age in dairy manipulation. Because of this, New York Magazine has opted to automatically refresh every few minutes to keep users up-to-date on this exciting event. In this scenario, the editors of New York Magazine would need to include some kind of mechanism that would allow users to shut off or adjust the automatic refresh settings.

As another example, let's check out that animated This American Life clip we included in our post on WCAG 1.4.7.

The words of David Sedaris's story flash across the screen much too quickly. Fortunately, since the video player provides users with the ability to pause and rewind the clip (not to mention, there's audio accompaniment), it shouldn't be an issue for anyone to understand.

Please note that this rule only covers time limits that are a part of the content you create. You are not expected to implement these changes to stuff that's an inherent function of the user agent or of the Internet in general, which would be out of your control.


There are a number of other circumstances in which you don't need to worry about time-dependent functions. You can leave time limits as they are if one of the following is true:

  • If the limit is linked to a real-time event, such as a live auction, and no other alternatives are available.
  • If the time limit is considered to be an "essential" element. WCAG likes to throw that term around, but in this case, the word "essential" refers to situations where the activity or function in general would be invalidated if the time limit were adjustable. Ticketing websites, for instance, often impose time limits during ordering because events can often sell out quickly. On an online auction site like eBay, as well, it would be unfair to other users if a small portion of people could extend the amount of time for bidding.
  • If the time limit is longer than 20 hours (But really, who has that kind of time, anyway?).