Timed Events

Current:

2.2.1 Timing Adjustable: For each time limit that is set by the content, at least one of the following is true (Level A).

  • Turn off: The user is allowed to turn off the time limit before encountering it; or

  • Adjust: The user is allowed to adjust the time limit, before encountering it, over a wide range that is at least ten times the length of the default setting; or

  • Extend: The user is warned before time expires, is given at least 20 seconds to extend the time limit with a simple action (for example, "press the space bar"), and is allowed to extend the time limit at least ten times; or

  • Real-time Exception: The time limit is a required part of a real-time event (for example, an auction), and no alternative to the time limit is possible; or

  • Essential Exception: The time limit is essential, and extending it would invalidate the activity; or

  • 20-Hour Exception: The time limit is longer than 20 hours.

Note: This success criterion helps ensure that users can complete tasks, without unexpected changes in content or context, which result from a time limit. This success criterion should be considered in conjunction with Success Criterion 3.2.1, which sets limits on changes of content or context as a result of user action.

Proposed:

2.2.1 @@Timed Events: Timed events are not used except for one or more of the situations listed below.@@

  • @@Security Exception: Where security may be at risk, a session can time out after 30 minutes of inactivity. Where financial or sensitive information is at risk, the timeout can be shorter.@@

  • Real-time Exception: The time limit is a required part of a real-time event (for example, an auction), and no alternative to the time limit is possible.

  • Essential Exception: The time limit is essential, and extending it would invalidate the activity.

  • 20-Hour Exception: The time limit is longer than 20 hours @@of inactivity.@@

  • User-Agreed: The timeout period is not less than a minimum timeout period to which the user has agreed.

@@Where there is a Security Exception, a User-Agreed Exception, or a 20-Hour Exception, the content must also conform to all of the below.@@

  • @@No loss of data: The user can easily return to the same point in a task, without data loss, for a period of at least one week as the default, or┬ávia a user-settable option available throughout the task. At the start of the task, the user is informed of the length of time that data are preserved.

    @@
  • @Timing adjustable: The function to turn off, adjust, or extend timing is controlled by a simple action, and is labeled with simple, understandable language. A user- or an administrator-settable time-limit minimum must be provided to complete any controlling action, or the user must be given at least 120 seconds to extend the time limit. The user is allowed to extend the time limit at least ten times. Note that all user settings must be easy to configure, and use standardized techniques when available.@@
  • @@Aware: At the start of a task, the user is informed of timeout limits, including the length of the warning. @@

Note: This success criterion helps ensure that users can complete tasks, without unexpected changes in content or context, which are a result of a time limit. This success criterion should be considered in conjunction with Success Criterion 3.2.1, which sets limits on changes of content or context as a result of user action.

Suggestion for Priority Level

(A)

Related Glossary additions or changes

sensitive information
information that can put users at risk, or information a user wishes to protect
essential
if removed, would fundamentally change the information or the functionality of content; and information and functionality cannot be achieved in another way that would conform
safe standardized techniques
standardized by WCAG, other W3C groups, or by the platform, browser, or operating system, where user vulnerabilities are not exposed without informed consent (This will be a discussion, and is not yet finalized.)
understandable language
conforms to all understandable-language success criteria

What Principle and Guideline the SC falls within.

Principle 2, Guideline 2.2

This is an update to SC 2.2.1

Description

The use of timed events can present significant barriers for users with cognitive disabilities, as these users may require more time to read content or to perform functions, such as completing an online form.

 

During the completion of an online process for reserving a hotel room and purchasing a plane ticket, a user with a cognitive impairment may become overwhelmed with the amount of instruction and data input required to complete the process. The user may not be able to complete the process in one sitting, and may need to take a break. Users should be able to leave a process without losing their current place within the process, and without losing data that have already been entered. If users cannot take a break and check their work, many will often be unable to complete a task correctly.

While making a purchase on an e-commerce Web site, a user with a cognitive disability may not remember required information (e.g., a phone number or a zip code) that may seem easy to remember for users without a cognitive impairment. Users with cognitive disabilities may need additional time to look up the information required to complete a transaction, without losing their place in the process, and without losing data that have already been entered.

In another example, users’ cognitive skills may temporarily diminish as they get tired. They then must stop the task for that day, and continue it when they are feeling better, and when their reading or processing skills are back to their higher levels.

For situations where the absence of a timed event would significantly change the intended functionality of an application (e.g., an auction or another real-time event), it is important to ensure that users with disabilities are properly notified. Notifications should include information about timed events, and an indication of the duration of the time given. As well, they should include mechanisms clearly labeled to adjust, extend, or stop the duration of an event, to allow users to fully engage and interact with Web content and functionality. For example, if an e-commerce Web site's checkout process provides secure credit card transactions, the user is notified of the timeout, and is given at least 120 seconds to extend it.

These experiences have been reported by members of the task force who have various cognitive impairments. There is significant user research indicating that timed events rarely help anyone; and can cause stress and frustration.

It should be noted that many users, within 20 seconds, cannot read instructions to extend a time limit. We thus extended the time limit to 120 seconds.

We also require simple text conforming to the understandable language success criteria.

 

Benefits

This Success Criterion helps users who need additional time performing tasks or reading content. This can include the following.

  • A Web site uses a client-side time limit to help protect users who may step away from their computers. After a period of inactivity, the Web page asks if the user needs more time. If the user does not respond within 120 seconds, a timeout occurs. The user is able to request more time at least 10 times.
  • A Web page has a section that automatically updates with the latest headlines in a rotating fashion. There is an interactive control that is easy to activate and is labeled with simple text. It allows the user to extend the length of time, between each update, to as much as ten times the default. The control can be operated by mouse, keyboard, or touch.
  • A ticket-purchasing web site allows users two minutes to confirm purchase of selected seats, but warns users when their time is almost out. It allows users to extend this time limit at least 10 times using a simple action, which is labeled with simple text, such as a button labeled "Extend time limit".
  • In an auction, there is a time limit on the amount of time a user has to submit a bid. Because the time limit applies to all users who want to bid on an item, it would be unfair to extend the time limit for one user. Therefore, a time limit is required for this type of activity. No extension, adjustment, or deactivation of such a time limit is required by this Success Criterion.

The Success Criterion helps people with a variety of disabilities including the following.

  • People with physical disabilities, who often need more time to react, to type, and to complete activities. People with low vision need more time to locate things on screen, and to read. People who are blind, and who use screen readers, may need more time to understand screen layouts, to find information, and to operate controls. People, who have cognitive or language limitations, need more time to read and to understand. People who are deaf, and who communicate in sign language, may need more time to read textual information (which may be a second language for some).
  • In circumstances where a sign-language interpreter may be relating audio content to a user who is deaf, control over time limits is also important.
  • People with reading disabilities, cognitive limitations, and learning disabilities, who may need more time to read or to comprehend information, can pause content to have additional time to read it.

This Success Criterion helps people with many different cognitive disabilities, including people with:

  • language-related disabilities;
  • memory-related disabilities;
  • focus-and-attention-related disabilities; and
  • disabilities that affect executive function and decision making.

Related Resources

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

Techniques

  • Do not expire a session timeout unless there has been a week of inactivity.
  • If a situation exists where a timeout is appropriate, use a mechanism to prevent data loss, and a conformant mechanism with clear controls, to turn off, adjust, or extend the timeout. The mechanism(s) should include both a warning and the ability to return to the original point.

Timed events rarely help anyone; and can cause stress and frustration.

Testability

For Web Content

Test for Timing Adjustable, as has been addressed in WCAG 2.0.

Test for Aware. It can be confirming, at the first screen of a task, that a timeout limit is provided.

Test for no loss of data. It could be:

Step 1. Begin entering data, into a process containing multiple Web forms, over more than one page.

Step 2. Complete the first form on Page 1 in the process, and proceed to Page 2 in the process.

Step 3. On Page 2 of the process, stop interacting with the page.

Step 4. Wait for a period fewer than 168 hours (1 week).

Step 5. Confirm that the following are both true.

Working group notes

Original Success Criteria - Timing Adjustable SC 2.2.1

2.2.1 Timing Adjustable: For each time limit that is set by the content, at least one of the following is true: (Level A)

  • Turn off: The user is allowed to turn off the time limit before encountering it; or

  • Adjust: The user is allowed to adjust the time limit before encountering it over a wide range that is at least ten times the length of the default setting; or

  • Extend: The user is warned before time expires and given at least 20 seconds to extend the time limit with a simple action (for example, "press the space bar"), and the user is allowed to extend the time limit at least ten times; or

  • Real-time Exception: The time limit is a required part of a real-time event (for example, an auction), and no alternative to the time limit is possible; or

  • Essential Exception: The time limit is essential and extending it would invalidate the activity; or

  • 20 Hour Exception: The time limit is longer than 20 hours.

Note: This success criterion helps ensure that users can complete tasks without unexpected changes in content or context that are a result of a time limit. This success criterion should be considered in conjunction with Success Criterion 3.2.1, which puts limits on changes of content or context as a result of user action.