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WCAG 3.2.5: Change on Request (Automatic Changes are (sometimes) Bad)


In our posts on WCAG 3.2.1 On Focus and WCAG 3.2.2 On Input, we discussed why unexpected changes of context can result in confusion for some users. In this post, we'll focus on automatic changes.

Changes of context on your site should only be initiated by user request, or else there should be a mechanism available by which users can turn off such changes. Allowing users full control over changes of context, such as the launching of new windows or submission of forms, will help, in particular, those experiencing low or no vision, cognitive limitations, or intellectual disabilities.

Give Users an Option

Some changes of context may not be disruptive for users and in fact a number of users may prefer that they be initiated automatically. For instance, an automatic page redirect could eliminate a burdensome intermediate step for users. In addition, those who rely on assistive technologies like single switches might have relatively limited ability to operate your site, and so context changes automated by the system would actually prove beneficial. Similarly, users with low vision may prefer more or less automation of context changes, depending on their needs and the change in question. Accordingly, in some cases it is ideal to provide users with the option to make some changes of context automatic, rather than solely dependent on user action.

Level AAA

This rule has been labeled Level AAA because, whereas WCAG 3.2.1 and WCAG 3.2.2 were geared toward safeguarding users from some types of unexpected changes of context, the intention of WCAG 3.2.5 is to give users complete control over such changes.

For more information on WCAG conformance levels, check out our post on <conformance>.