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Cognitive Accessibility Design Pattern: Notify Users of Fees and Charges at the Start of a Task

User Need

I need support to manage the task, such as letting me know what information I will need (credit card, full address, etc.) before I start.

What to Do

Tell the user about all charges at the start of a transaction including typical values. Any conditions and terms should also be available at the start of the transaction in easy language.

How it Helps

Users with cognitive and learning disabilities who have trouble with memory, attention to detail, or reading comprehension may not be aware of charges unless they are explicitly noted at the start of a transaction task. Terms and conditions can be under a link, but charges must be clearly displayed and available in easy to understand language.

Clearly identifying charges at the start of a sale benefits all users. Those with cognitive and learning disabilities will particularly benefit because some groups are less likely to have inferred or guessed the charges would be included. They may not know to look in other places in the user flow, such as on the homepage, or on a designated rates page.

People with impaired executive function or memory need to have all the consequences presented in an orderly form to be able to make an informed decision. When charges are not clear, the consent of the transaction is unclear.

It also can take much longer for users with disabilities to go through the process of making a purchase. If a person has spent hours making an online purchase, it is much more difficult and upsetting to find out that they cannot afford it. They will often blame themselves for not understanding the price and may experience a loss of confidence. They may stop trusting themselves with online, day-to-day activities.

For example, a person who has challenges with executive function may be trying to order a plane ticket, and not realize that there are extra fees not quoted in the original price, such as taxes, international fees, baggage fees, etc. They may spend hours booking a holiday only to find that they cannot afford it. Alternatively, sometimes they end up purchasing something they cannot afford. Also, even if they have completed this process in the past, they may not be not able to use their experience to anticipate the final price. The result is the user loses confidence in their ability to independently purchase a holiday online. They may have a debt they are unable to pay, may not attempt again, or only with the help of a hired professional (e.g. travel agent or assistant).



  1. Clearly stated charges. Users are aware of all charges and can make an informed decision when they decide to purchase an item and put it in a shopping cart.
  2. Clearly stated of ranges of possible charges. For items with shipping charges that vary, list the range of shipping charges and the issues that change the rate, along with a link to where more details can be found. For example, weight and speed of shipping may impact your shipping fees which can be between $4 and $400 depending on location.
  3. There are no surprise conditions.


  1. Final transactions that include new charges or hidden fees, that result in higher-than-expected total charges.
  2. Final transactions that include conditions of purchase that are not clear to users from the beginning of the task.
  3. Transactions that contain charges or conditions that the user did not know about until they had invested a lot of effort into the sale.
  4. Completed transactions that surprise the user with the total cost.

User Stories and Personas

User Story



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