SC Shortname: Help

SC Text

3.3.5 Help: Context-sensitive help is available. (Level AAA)

3.3.5 Help: @@Content and information is provided that helps users understand complex information, long documents, numerical information, relative and cardinal directions (North, South, East, and West), forms and non-standard controls. Where an understanding of mathematics is not a primary requirement for using this content, reinforce numbers with non-numerical values.@@

Suggestion for Priority Level


Related Glossary additions or changes

Cardinal Directions:
Points of the Compass (North, South, East and West)

Long Documents:
300 words or more

Complex Information:
Something with at least 3 parts where at least 2 of those parts interact with each other in multiple ways.

What Principle and Guideline the SC falls within.

Principle 3, Guideline 3.3 - Input Assistance


The use of complex information, long documents and data in a particular format and the use of non-standard controls in Web forms can present significant barriers to users with cognitive accessibility needs. The intent of this Success Criterion is to ensure that navigation, operability and the ability to complete tasks associated with a website is fully understandable and accessible to people with cognitive accessibility needs through the provision of context sensitive help, tooltips and explanation of jargon. For example:

The main reason for the upgrade in the conformance level is to ensure that user needs are consistently addressed across the different disabilities.

Note that graphics should be clear and it should be easy to identify meaning and context. The ability to "read between the lines"; of a text, graphic, or lecture may seem obvious to many users without cognitive accessibility needs but it may create barriers for people with autism, who may not be able to readily discern the intended relevance of graphical data.

Further use aria-describedby to associate the graphic or sections of a graphic or chart and the text that describes it can be read by a screen reader while the right section of the chart is highlighted.



The benefit to users with cognitive accessibility needs is that the information in the help is presented in a way that it is understandable and therefore supports the user in accessing the information or service which would otherwise be too complex for them to consume. This Success Criterion addresses two broad classes of issues associated with this type of information:

While providing clarity and accessibility is of benefit to all users it is of particular benefit to a wide range of users with differing cognitive accessibility needs including users with:

Providing comprehensive help not only benefits users with diverse cognitive accessibility needs but also benefits any user who is unfamiliar with the material and therefore the benefits are not restricted to a relatively small subset of users.

The user needs are more fully described in the User needs Table.

Please review the following user needs table

Also see our Background research document


Related Resources

Resources are for information purposes only. No endorsement is intended or implied.

“Accommodating-ASD-In-STEM.pdf”. Nathan W . Moon, PhD Robert L. T odd, M S David L. Morton, PhD Emily Ivey, M S (You can download it from John's Dropbox account at


Garrett, K. L., Beukelman, D. R., & Low-Morrow, D. (1989). A comprehensive augmentative communication system for an adult with Broca's aphasia. Augmentative & Alternative Communication, 5(1), 55.

Top Five Instructional Tips for Students with Down syndrome"

"Down syndrome and Learning"

Phiriyapkanon. Is big button interface enough for elderly users, P34, Malardardalen University Press Sweden 2011

Neilson Norman Group article: Pop-ups and Adaptive Help Get a Refresh by Katie Sherwin on March 15, 2015 - Present help content in a small modeless overlay window. Provide a link to more detailed information if available. Alow user to minimize, resize and move the window. What about small screens?


This Success Criterion can be tested manually.

Test Procedure


Sufficient techniques for icons and jargon

Ensure one of the following techniques are used:

Sufficient techniques for content relating to numbers and complex information. (use whichever apply)