Understanding WCAG 2.0

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No Keyboard Trap:
Understanding SC 2.1.2

2.1.2 No Keyboard Trap: If keyboard focus can be moved to a component of the page using a keyboard interface, then focus can be moved away from that component using only a keyboard interface, and, if it requires more than unmodified arrow or tab keys or other standard exit methods, the user is advised of the method for moving focus away. (Level A)

Note: Since any content that does not meet this success criterion can interfere with a user's ability to use the whole page, all content on the Web page (whether it is used to meet other success criteria or not) must meet this success criterion. See Conformance Requirement 5: Non-Interference.

Intent of this Success Criterion

The intent of this Success Criterion is to ensure that that content does not "trap" keyboard focus within subsections of content on a Web page. This is a common problem when multiple formats are combined within a page and rendered using plug-ins or embedded applications.

There may be times when the functionality of the Web page restricts the focus to a subsection of the content, as long as the user knows how to leave that state and "untrap" the focus.

Specific Benefits of Success Criterion 2.1.2:

  • People who rely on a keyboard or keyboard interface to use the Web including people who are blind and people with physical disabilities.

Examples of Success Criterion 2.1.2

Related Resources

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.

(none currently documented)

Techniques and Failures for Success Criterion 2.1.2 - No Keyboard Trap

Each numbered item in this section represents a technique or combination of techniques that the WCAG Working Group deems sufficient for meeting this Success Criterion. [begin change]However, it is not necessary to use these particular techniques. Any techniques, whether published by the WCAG group or not, can be sufficient if a) they satisfy the Success Criterion and b) all of the WCAG 2.0 conformance requirements have been met.[end change]

Additional Techniques (Advisory) for 2.1.2

Although not required for conformance, the following additional techniques should be considered in order to make content more accessible. Not all techniques can be used or would be effective in all situations.

(none currently documented)

Common Failures for SC 2.1.2

The following are common mistakes that are considered failures of Success Criterion 2.1.2 by the WCAG Working Group.

Key Terms

keyboard interface

interface used by software to obtain keystroke input

Note 1: A keyboard interface allows users to provide keystroke input to programs even if the native technology does not contain a keyboard.

Example: A touchscreen PDA has a keyboard interface built into its operating system as well as a connector for external keyboards. Applications on the PDA can use the interface to obtain keyboard input either from an external keyboard or from other applications that provide simulated keyboard output, such as handwriting interpreters or speech-to-text applications with "keyboard emulation" functionality.

Note 2: Operation of the application (or parts of the application) through a keyboard-operated mouse emulator, such as MouseKeys, does not qualify as operation through a keyboard interface because operation of the program is through its pointing device interface, not through its keyboard interface.