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4.1.3 Status Messages (AA)

Understanding 4.1.3 Status Messages (AA)

There are different situations where a status message needs to be shown in a way that assistive technologies understand. These messages need to be presented to the user without receiving focus themselves, or disturbing the user’s place in a page.

Why is this a problem?

  • A sighted person can quickly see status messages on a page, and them go back to what they were doing or reading. Moving focus to a message can be disruptive for screen reader users, users of speech recognition software and keyboard only users.
  • If focus is always moved to the message users with cognitive impairments may also be confused by unpredictable focus changes.

Requirements / What to do?

The following are different situations where you will need to cover.

When a status message tells the user something is successful

When a status message tells the user something is successful or is the results of an action. This can also be used for a state change when part of a page updates:

You can use these following techniques:

Use the ARIA role=status to present status messages in combination with the technique Providing success feedback when data is submitted successfully.

If a status message conveys a suggestion, or a warning or error:

NOTE: There may be time when you do want to move focus to a message, such as an error, as a part of form validation etc.

Use the following techniques:

Use ARIA role=alert or Live Regions to Identify Errors in combination with any of the following:

If a status message conveys information on the progress of a process:

The ARIA role="progressbar" can be used but may not be enough on its own (depending on AT and browser support). For some examples of progressbar role see:

You can use the following techniques:

Common mistakes

  • Status messages are not to be shown in a way that the AT understands or receive focus.
  • Using role="alert" or aria-live="assertive" on content which is not important.
  • On a page with ARIA live regions - if regions are hidden or not needed - always make sure to switch their active and inactive states accordingly.