2.2.1 – Timing Adjustable (Level A)

Time limits have user controls

If any of your content is time-controlled, you risk losing users who need more time to read and understand the information on your website.

Time-controlled content is anything on your website that expires or becomes unusable by your users after a certain time. A common example is giving a user ten minutes to fill in and send a form. There are functional reasons to set time limits, but you must consider all of your users.

What to do

  • If your website uses a time limit:
    • Give your users an option to turn off the time limit before it begins (for example, a landing page before the time-controlled page can display a message that shows your customers what to do); or
    • Give your users the option to adjust the time limit before it begins, over a range of at least ten times the default setting (you can do this with a landing page too); or
    • Give your users the option to extend the period at least twenty seconds before it expires. This must be a simple action like clicking a button and must be available to use at least ten times.
  • If your website has moving or animated text, users must be able to pause the movement.
  • If your website has a feature that updates automatically (for example, with the latest football scores), you must allow your users to delay the frequency of the updates by at least ten times the default setting.

Tips

  • Take as much content outside of time limits as possible.
  • Make sure any user controls you provide are keyboard accessible.
  • If you use a pop-up to give your users the option to extend a time limit, consider Guideline 2.2.4.

Exceptions

There are some valid exceptions to Guideline 2.2.1, because sometimes you must set time limits for your website or business to work.

You do not need to provide the above controls if:

  • The time limit is due to real-time events, like bidding in an auction.
  • Your content is a live video stream.
  • The time limit is essential for your business. For example, a ticket sales website that saves a reservation for ten minutes because demand is high and giving users unlimited time would undermine the business process.
  • The time limit is more than 20 hours.

See also

Free Developer Resources

Join over 2,000 accessibility fans and get free developer resources like WCAG 2.0 Checklists and a sample from my book.

Powered by ConvertKit

Over 250 people just like you have learned more about WCAG 2.0 with my guidebook.

Learn more >

  • When testing other’s websites, it isn’t always obvious that something has a time limit. It often only becomes obvious when leaving something alone and coming back to it later only to find it has timed out.

    Unfortunately there is nothing in the guidelines about what would be a reasonable time limit, which I think would be very useful. For example it would be quite reasonable to set a shorter time limit for a login screen than for a full page contact form, but there is no objective means of deciding this.

    Of course the most challenging thing to test is whether a time limit is more than twenty hours. I have never seen one but in theory it is possible. Where the figure of twenty hours comes from is anyone’s guess though. Who is to say that nineteen hours shouldn’t be enough for any time limit?

  • Thanks for getting involved Richard. You make a great point about testing time limits out – one of the reasons I didn’t include my usual “audit” section. Unless you know your developers have put a time limit on, it can be hard to spot them – especially if you’re used to your site and use it quickly.

    This one is a great case for real user testing – especially targeting users with disabilities.

    As for the hours, I’m sure I read a justification for the use of twenty somewhere – but I can’t find it now. A soon as you go past one hour, it’s an odd realm that you might as well just comply by letting users turn off the limits. That said, great opportunity for a user testing company to insist on real-time page checking – imagine the quote for twenty hours per page!