SC Shortname: Interruptions

SC Text



2.2.4ֲ Interruptions:ֲ Interruptions can be postponed or suppressed by the user, except interruptions involving anֲ emergency.


(only use if this proposal replaces an existing SC)

2.2.4ֲ Interruptions: @@

There is an easily available means to specify that:

except interruptions involving anֲ emergency.

(Level @@A@@).

Suggestion for Priority Level (A/AA/AAA)

A or AA

Related Glossary additions or changes

current context - as defined in WCAG

easily available (or easily available mode or setting) one or more of the following are true:

What Principle and Guideline the SC falls within.

replace 2.2.4

Principle 2 Guideline 2


The intent of this Success Criterion is that people with impaired attention and memory can complete a task. When users are interrupted, they may forget what they are doing and abandon the task. This can happen even when the original task is extremely important. For example, a user is making a doctor's appointment, but interruptions cause the user to forget what they were doing and the critical appointment is not made.

From Etsi “Presented information is free from distractions if the information is presented so that required information will be perceived without other presented information interfering with its perception. Distractions from a user's point of view can result from distracting events and from information overload. Freedom from distraction involves minimizing distractions and avoiding distractions.”

Where a site may generate interruptions and changes of content, the user must be able to easily turn them off to control them, such that:

  1. Interruptions can be easily controlled and turned off
  2. Secondary content (such as special offers or complementary material) can be easily identified, controlled and turned off
  3. No sudden changes occur on the site
  4. Media events can be easily controlled and turned off
  5. Chat can be easily turned off and on again
  6. Non-critical messages can easily be turned off and on again
  7. Where standard techniques exists for the above, they should be used
  8. Further pop-ups and similar distractions must always be easy to close and avoid so that all people can continue their task.

    It is worth noting that the task force is proposing semantics to support an integrated solution. This is a proposal to help people stay focused and productive. It is based on a matrix for distractions at the operating system, browser, or cloud level. Currently people can turn off distractions such as Skype, and Facebook, across different devices, and then may forget to turn them back on. This idea manages all distractions by forming a cross-application and cross-device distraction matrix that manages all distractions in one setting. People and users can be clustered in terms of importance or groups. For example, the CEO and your child's care giver could both be considered critical contacts. So even if they do not feel the message is urgent, they can sometimes disrupt the user anyway. Some family members and important colleagues can be in another group, friends and extended family in a third group, system messages from the compliance system can be a different group again.

    Dimensions in the matrix can include: Groups of contacts, how urgent the contact feels any message is, and the level of interruptions the user can tolerate at any given time or setting. The user can set how to handle any combination of the above for the level of concentration needed at the time. For example, during normal work hours, messages from important colleagues could interrupt the user, but any other messages would get logged and read when the user has time. In another example, the user may be giving a talk and sets the interruption level to critical. Then, only critical messages from key colleagues and family can interrupt (for example, messages that a critical contact feels are critical and urgent). Default systems can include setting work hours. Optionally, distractions such as news websites could also be limited in low distraction times.

    Further pop-ups and similar distractions must always be consistently easy to close and avoid so that all people can continue their task.



Distractions can cause people with cognitive disabilities to lose focus on the current action being performed or draw attention away from the primary content and can be difficult for some users to know how to understand, avoid and/or stop them. Drawing the user's attention away from primary content can create a range of issues depending on the user's impairment(s). If a user also has a low short term memory they may forget what task they are doing, and be unable to continue. If a user is consuming content and their attention is drawn away this may impact their ability to consume the primary content or complete an interaction or process. If a user is carrying out a complete multi-step action (such as form filling), being distracted may cause the user to lose context, thread or position in the action or sequence of actions.

Once people have become distracted it can be difficult for them to remember what they were doing. This is especially problematic for people with both low attention and impaired memory such as people with dementia.

Attention is affected for most people with cognitive disabilities, including dementia and ADHD. Other people with disabilities may find it hard to focus with a high-arousal page with moving text and animated images.

This is fully discussed in the Distraction Issue paper

Related Resources (optional)

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.


Expected results:


  1. Using semantics and personalization to allow a user to turn off distractions
  2. Providing methods to control and turn off media events
  3. Media events can be easily controlled and turned off


  1. Failure of success criteria 2.2.4 due to secondary content (such as special offers or complementary material) that cannot be easily identified, controlled, and turned off
  2. Failure of success criteria 2.2.4 because sudden changes occur on the site
  3. Failure of success criteria 2.2.4 because media events cannot be easily controlled and turned off
  4. Failure of success criteria 2.2.4 because chat cannot be easily turned off and on again
  5. Failure of success criteria 2.2.4 because non-critical messages interrupt the user


working groups notes (optional)