This week we'll look at the WCAG guideline concerning time limits.
According to WCAG 2.2.1 - Timing adjustable (Level A), learners shouldn’t be given a time limit unless they can extend it or turn it off. The advanced version of this guideline (WCAG 2.2.3 - No timing) goes beyond that and recommends not setting time limits even if the learners can control them.
There are many reasons behind these guidelines, the most obvious being that some people may need more time processing what's on the screen. People for example who use assistive technologies may need more time to get a feel for the navigation of the page, or listen to the screen reader read out the instructions, texts, and anything else on the screen. Also, people with cognitive impairments or people with English as a second language may need more time to read the information on the screen. But it can also be about situational impairments. Imagine that you're interrupted by the doorbell ringing and you miss some crucial information or lose some precious time on the task; you're equally disadvantaged. Finally, we must mention that time constraints can make learning experiences stressful and could cause people to have anxiety and moments of mind blanks.
While many people may assume that this only relates to timed activities or assessments, it is about anything that has time limits. Other examples where people can miss out on content if this guideline is not followed are slides that automatically move on or update or animated content on the screen that automatically disappears.
To comply at the AAA level, avoid imposing time limits completely. If that's not possible, to comply with the basic level of this guideline, allow learners either to turn off or provide a means to set the time limit to 10 times the default time limit.