Techniques for WCAG 2.0

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G84: Providing a text description when the user provides information that is not in the list of allowed values


Content that collects user input where a limited set of values must be input.

This technique relates to:


When users enter input that is validated, and errors are detected, the nature of the error needs to be described to the user in manner they can access. One approach is to present an alert dialog that describes fields with errors when the user attempts to submit the form. Another approach, if validation is done by the server, is to return the form (with the user's data still in the fields) and a text description at the top of the page that indicates the fact that there was a validation problem, describes the nature of the problem, and provides ways to locate the field(s) with a problem easily. The "in text" portion of the Success Criterion underscores that it is not sufficient simply to indicate that a field has an error by putting an asterisk on its label or turning the label red. A text description of the problem should be provided.

When input must be one of a set of allowed values, the text description should indicate this fact. It should include the list of values if possible, or suggest the allowed value that is most similar to the entered value.




  1. Enter invalid data in a form field.

  2. Check that information is provided in text about the problem.

Expected Results

If this is a sufficient technique for a success criterion, failing this test procedure does not necessarily mean that the success criterion has not been satisfied in some other way, only that this technique has not been successfully implemented and can not be used to claim conformance.

Techniques are Informative

Techniques are informative—that means they are not required. The basis for determining conformance to WCAG 2.0 is the success criteria from the WCAG 2.0 standard—not the techniques. For important information about techniques, please see the Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria section of Understanding WCAG 2.0.