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Cognitive Accessibility Design Pattern: Make it Easy to Undo Form Errors

User Need

I need to check my work and go back without losing the work I have just done.

What to Do

Always allow the user to check their work and correct any mistakes. Once the user has fixed their mistake it should be easy to get back to the place they were at without redoing additional steps.

For financial transactions and important information, allow the user to easily cancel the transactions. Provide clear information and simple instructions for important information such as the amount of time the user has to cancel a transaction.

How it Helps

People with cognitive and learning disabilities make many more mistakes filling out forms than the general population. When mistakes cannot be easily corrected they cannot complete the task.

The ability to undo errors helps people with cognitive and learning disabilities safely use forms and reduces the consequences that result from a mistake.

For example, a user with a memory impairment may not remember that they have already added an item to their shopping cart and may add the item a second time. They may confuse the dates when booking a trip or make other mistakes.

It is essential that people with cognitive and learning disabilities have the opportunity to check their work and fix their mistakes easily.

For people with cognitive and learning disabilities, mistakes being theoretically reversible is not enough. Often the process of reversing a transaction is too complex for them to manage without help. They may not have access to that help meaning they have to live with all the mistakes they have made. In addition, if the process of correcting mistakes is too difficult, users may stop, either losing the transaction or buying unwanted items.

The effect of this happening multiple times is devastating. As a result, many users with disabilities may stop using the Internet for many tasks.

Allowing the user to change the number of items in the shopping cart at any time can significantly reduce mistakes.

A summary of the order, including product quantities and other costs before the final submission, gives the user the chance to identify any errors and make changes to the order. In this example given, a summary of the purchase helps the user see the error in quantity as well as a higher than expected order total.

In some cases, a user may realize that a mistake has been made after the final submission of data. Provide simple language instructions on how to cancel transactions and help the user understand the amount of time needed to cancel a transaction. This makes them less susceptible to scams.

For example, a user with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder purchasing a travel ticket on a web site may struggle with details and may have an impaired attention span. The successful completion of the order relies on the information provided at multiple steps in the process. An error such as an incorrect street number or zip code in the billing address will result in the order not going though. If a summary is not provided before submitting the final order, the user may not understand the reason for the declined payment and give up on the order. The user may also stop if there is not a clear and achievable way to make a correction.

More Details

This typically includes:

  • Change: It is simple for the user to review all the data and correct mistakes, including mistakes that might not be automatically identified. The user can change information via clearly labeled actions and get back to the place they were at, in one clearly labeled action without unwanted loss of data. (Some data may need to be entered if it is dependent on the item that was changed.)
  • Confirmed: A summary is provided before submitting important information and the user is told when they are about to submit the final information.
  • Time frames and instruction for canceling transactions are clear and easy to follow.

Getting Started

Start with forms where a mistake can have serious consequences such as financial loss or vulnerability.



  • A summary provided before submitting important information. It allows the user to correct information and return to the summary with a single click.
  • Clickable breadcrumbs that allow the user to see the previous steps, go back, and change them.


  • A summary provided before submitting important information, but the user cannot make corrections without losing other data entered.

User Stories and Personas

User Story



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