Spotlight 25

Correcting Errors

(WCAG 3.3.1 & 3.3.3)

In spotlight 24, we introduced the WCAG criteria related to preventing errors with input fields such as text entry fields, or radio buttons. 

What we cover in this spotlight

In this spotlight, we cover some more criteria in the Input assistance category (3.3) in WCAG that relate to correcting errors once a user has made them. 

Correcting Errors 3.3.1 Error identification (A) Communicate errors in text form. 3.3.3 Error suggestion (AA) Provide suggestions on how to correct errors.

What the criteria say

The first thing when a learner commits an error with an input field such as a text entry field or a radio button is to let them know that there's an error. Error identification (3.3.1 - level A) requires that you ensure that the learner is aware if there is an error and clarify what the error is with a message in text form. For example, if the learner is completing an assessment question and the answer is incorrect, you should make sure there's an error message displayed in text form letting the learner know that the answer is incorrect. If the learners are required to interact with multiple input fields such as inputting their personal details on a form, the message should clearly indicate in which input field the error occurred.
Note that we already said the error should be communicated in text form. This means that it's not enough to use a red icon for example as an error message since it may not be perceived by learners who are blind or colourblind. You can use colour as long as it's accompanied by an error message in text form.   


The next thing is to provide suggestions to the learner on how to correct those errors. That's where criterion Error suggestion (3.3.3 -  level AA) comes in. For example, if the learner missed filling in a mandatory field, you should then display a message explaining which field is mandatory and what they need to do next. If the learner is inputting the information in the incorrect format, the message should explain the requirements for the correct format.

Resources:

Discussion questions:

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Spotlight 24: Preventing errors

Spotlight 26: Language and words