Understanding WCAG 2.0

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Bypass Blocks:
Understanding SC 2.4.1

2.4.1 Bypass Blocks: A mechanism is available to bypass blocks of content that are repeated on multiple Web pages. (Level A)

The intent of this Success Criterion is to allow people who navigate sequentially through content more direct access to the primary content of the Web page. Web pages and applications often have content that appears on other pages or screens. Examples of repeated blocks of content include but are not limited to navigation links, heading graphics, and advertising frames. Small repeated sections such as individual words, phrases or single links are not considered blocks for the purposes of this provision.

This is in contrast to a sighted user's ability to ignore the repeated material either by focusing on the center of the screen (where main content usually appears) or a mouse user's ability to select a link with a single mouse click rather than encountering every link or form control that comes before the item they want.

It is not the intent of this Success Criterion to require authors to provide methods that are redundant to functionality provided by the user agent. Most web browsers provide keyboard shortcuts to move the user focus to the top of the page, so if a set of navigation links is provided at the bottom of a web page providing a "skip" link may be unnecessary.

Note: Although this Success Criterion deals with blocks of content that are repeated on multiple pages, we also strongly promote structural markup on individual pages as per Success Criteria 1.3.1.

Although the success criterion does not specifically use the term “within a set of web pages”, the concept of the pages belonging to a set is implied. An author would not be expected to avoid any possible duplication of content in any two pages that are not in some way related to each other; that are not "Web pages that share a common purpose and that are created by the same author, group or organization” (the definition of set of web pages).

Note: Even for web pages that are not in a set, if a web page has blocks of text that are repeated within the page it may be helpful (but not required) to provide a means to skip over them.

  • When this Success Criterion is not satisfied, it may be difficult for people with some disabilities to reach the main content of a Web page quickly and easily.

  • Screen reader users who visit several pages on the same site can avoid having to hear all heading graphics and dozens of navigation links on every page before the main content is spoken.

  • People who use only the keyboard or a keyboard interface can reach content with fewer keystrokes. Otherwise, they might have to make dozens of keystrokes before reaching a link in the main content area. This can take a long time and may cause severe physical pain for some users.

  • People who use screen magnifiers do not have to search through the same headings or other blocks of information to find where the content begins each time they enter a new page.

  • People with cognitive limitations as well as people who use screen readers may benefit when links are grouped into lists

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.

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. However, it is not necessary to use these particular techniques. For information on using other techniques, see Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria, particularly the "Other Techniques" section.

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.

  • Providing keyboard access to important links and form controls (future link)

  • Providing skip links to enhance page navigation (future link)

  • Providing access keys (future link)

  • Using accessibility supported technologies which allow structured navigation by user agents and assistive technologies (future link)

  • C6: Positioning content based on structural markup (CSS)

The following are common mistakes that are considered failures of Success Criterion 2.4.1 by the WCAG Working Group.

(No failures currently documented)

Key Terms

Web page

a non-embedded resource obtained from a single URI using HTTP plus any other resources that are used in the rendering or intended to be rendered together with it by a user agent

Note 1: Although any "other resources" would be rendered together with the primary resource, they would not necessarily be rendered simultaneously with each other.

Note 2: For the purposes of conformance with these guidelines, a resource must be "non-embedded" within the scope of conformance to be considered a Web page.

Example 1: A Web resource including all embedded images and media.

Example 2: A Web mail program built using Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX). The program lives entirely at http://example.com/mail, but includes an inbox, a contacts area and a calendar. Links or buttons are provided that cause the inbox, contacts, or calendar to display, but do not change the URI of the page as a whole.

Example 3: A customizable portal site, where users can choose content to display from a set of different content modules.

Example 4: When you enter "http://shopping.example.com/" in your browser, you enter a movie-like interactive shopping environment where you visually move around in a store dragging products off of the shelves around you and into a visual shopping cart in front of you. Clicking on a product causes it to be demonstrated with a specification sheet floating alongside. This might be a single-page Web site or just one page within a Web site.


process or technique for achieving a result

Note 1: The mechanism may be explicitly provided in the content, or may be relied upon to be provided by either the platform or by user agents, including assistive technologies.

Note 2: The mechanism needs to meet all success criteria for the conformance level claimed.