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WCAG 3.2.1: On Focus


In Guideline 3.1, we discussed ways to ensure that the content on your site is readable and understandable. Now, we will talk about the various criteria of Guideline 3.2, which revolves around making your site appear and operate predictably and intuitively.

WCAG 3.2.1: The Basics

Let's say you're planning a trip to New York City, and, because you are clearly an astonishingly cultured and knowledgeable individual, you want to see what exhibits the Metropolitan Museum of Art will have while you're there.

[Source: https://metmuseum.org/]

You go to one of the dropdown menus on the museum's homepage and try to tab through the options available. However, when you move down to the first choice, you suddenly jump to that page, even though you didn't actually select it.

When a user interface on your site receives focus, it should not initiate a change of context. Now, what does "a change of context" mean, exactly? Basically, if a component on your site receives focus, a change of context could mean that

  • A form is submitted automatically
  • A new window is launched
  • The focus is shifted to another component

These aren't the only examples of a change of context, but just a few common ones to watch out for.

What You Should Do

When putting together your site, take some time to tab through its various components to make sure changes of context only come as a result of "activation", not "focus". This will help users experiencing low or no vision, who would have trouble detecting an unexpected change of context.