Changing the setting of any user interface component does not automatically cause a change of context unless the user has been advised of the behavior before using the component. (Level A)
Entering content into a text field or selecting an option from a form control has predictive results. This means users should be able to predict what will happen if the user activates a link, input data into a text field or select options from a form control. People with cognitive disabilities and those with low vision are likely to get distracted due to changes that occur on input.
Submitting the form when the user fills the last element, changing the context when the user selects an option from a dropdown etc disorients the user. Either providing an instruction that allows the user to predict the behavior before changing the option or allowing the user to confirm the change with a select/ submit button will be helpful in interacting with the web content.
This check-point is considered as failure only when the context changes on input. If the content only changes do not fail it under 3.2.1 on input.
Consider that the web page has a dropdown with options member, provider and admin. Selecting the member from the dropdown displays 4 fields after it and selecting provider displays 4 different fields, selecting admin displays 6 fields. This is considered as change in content not the context. Hence this is not a failure. However selecting different options in the dropdown takes the user to 3 different pages can be considered as change of context and is failed against this check-point.
People with visual challenges, cognitive difficulties and motor disabilities benefit when changes does not happen on input.
Points to remember
- Allow the users to predict what happens on selecting different options or input of data if change of context occurs with some instruction.
- If providing an instruction is not possible provide a mechanism that allows the user to confirm the change using elements such as select/ submit buttons.
- A change of content is not always a change of context. This success criterion is automatically met if changes in content are not also changes of context.
W3c WCAG 2.0 techniques
- G80: Providing a submit button to initiate a change of context(general )
- G13: Describing what will happen before a change to a form control that causes a change of context to occur is made(general)
- G201: Giving users advanced warning when opening a new window(general)
- H32: Providing submit buttons (HTML)
- H84: Using a button with a select element to perform an action (HTML)