Understanding WCAG 2.0

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Understanding SC 3.3.5

3.3.5 Help: Context-sensitive help is available. (Level AAA)

Intent of this Success Criterion

The intent of this Success Criterion is to help users avoid making mistakes. Some users with disabilities may be more likely to make mistakes than users without disabilities. Using context-sensitive help, users find out how to perform an operation without losing track of what they are doing.

Context-sensitive help only needs to be provided when the label is not sufficient to describe all functionality. The existence of context-sensitive help should be obvious to the user and they should be able to obtain it whenever they require it.

The content author may provide the help text, or the user agent may provide the help text based on technology-specific, programmatically determined information.

Specific Benefits of Success Criterion 3.3.5:

  • Assistance for text input helps individuals with writing disabilities and people with reading and intellectual disabilities who often have difficulty writing text in forms or other places that need text input.

  • Additionally, these kinds of assistance help people who are aging and have the same difficulty in text input and/or mouse operation.

Examples of Success Criterion 3.3.5

Related Resources

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.

(none currently documented)

Techniques and Failures for Success Criterion 3.3.5 - Help

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.

Sufficient Techniques

Instructions: Select the situation below that matches your content. Each situation includes techniques or combinations of techniques that are known and documented to be sufficient for that situation.

Situation A: If a form requires text input:

  1. G71: Providing a help link on every Web page

  2. G193: Providing help by an assistant in the Web page

  3. G194: Providing spell checking and suggestions for text input

  4. G184: Providing text instructions at the beginning of a form or set of fields that describes the necessary input

Situation B: If a form requires text input in an expected data format:

  1. G89: Providing expected data format and example

  2. G184: Providing text instructions at the beginning of a form or set of fields that describes the necessary input

Additional Techniques (Advisory) for 3.3.5

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.

Common Failures for SC 3.3.5

The following are common mistakes that are considered failures of Success Criterion 3.3.5 by the WCAG Working Group.

(No failures currently documented)

Key Terms

context-sensitive help

help text that provides information related to the function currently being performed

Note: Clear labels can act as context-sensitive help.