Understanding Success Criterion 1.4.13: Content on Hover or Focus

Where receiving and then removing pointer hover or keyboard focus triggers additional content to become visible and then hidden, the following are true:

Dismissable
A mechanism is available to dismiss the additional content without moving pointer hover or keyboard focus, unless the additional content communicates an input error or does not obscure or replace other content;
Hoverable
If pointer hover can trigger the additional content, then the pointer can be moved over the additional content without the additional content disappearing;
Persistent
The additional content remains visible until the hover or focus trigger is removed, the user dismisses it, or its information is no longer valid.

Exception: The visual presentation of the additional content is controlled by the user agent and is not modified by the author.

Examples of additional content controlled by the user agent include browser tooltips created through use of the HTML title attribute.

Custom tooltips, sub-menus, and other nonmodal popups that display on hover and focus are examples of additional content covered by this criterion.

Intent of Success Criterion 1.4.13: Content on Hover or Focus

Additional content that appears and disappears in coordination with keyboard focus or pointer hover often leads to accessibility issues. Reasons for such issues include:

  1. the user may not have intended to trigger the interaction
  2. the user may not know new content has appeared
  3. the new content may intefere with a user's ability to do a task

Examples of such interactions can include custom tooltips, sub-menus and other nonmodal popups which display on hover and focus. The intent of this success criterion is to ensure that authors who cause additional content to appear and disappear in this manner must design the interaction in such a way that users can:

There are usually more predictable and accessible means of adding content to the page, which authors are recommended to employ. If an author does choose to make additional content appear and disappear in coordination with hover and keyboard focus, this success criterion specifies three conditions that must be met:

Each of these is discussed in a separate section.

Note: This SC covers content that appears in addition to the triggering component itself. Therefore, a non-visible component, like a Skip to Main link, that is made visible on keyboard focus (with no additional content beyond the trigger becoming visible) is not covered by the SC.

The intent of this condition is to ensure that the additional content does not interfere with viewing or operating the page's original content. When magnified, the portion of the page visible in the viewport can be signficantly reduced. Mouse users frequently move the pointer to pan the magnified viewport and display another portion of the screen. However, almost the entire portion of the page visible in this restricted viewport may trigger the additional content, making it difficult for a user to pan without re-triggering the content. A keyboard means of dismissing the additional content provides a workaround.

Alternatively, low vision users who can only navigate via the keyboard do not want the small area of their magnified viewport cluttered with trivial hover text. They need a keyboard method of dismissing something that is obscuring the current focal area.

Two methods may be used to satisfy this condition and prevent such interference:

  1. Position the additional content so that it does not obscure any other content including the trigger, with the exception of white space and purely decorative content, such as a background graphic which provides no information.
  2. Provide a mechanism to easily dismiss the additional content, such as by pressing Escape or selecting a close button.

For most triggers of relatively small size, it is desirable for both methods to be implemented. If the trigger is large, noticing the additional content may be of concern if it appears away from the trigger. In those cases, only the second method may be appropriate.

The intent of this condition is to ensure that additional content which may appear on hover of a target may also be hovered itself. Content which appears on hover can be difficult or impossible to perceive if a user is required to keep their mouse pointer over the trigger. When the added content is large, magnified views may mean that the user needs to scroll or pan to completely view it, which is impossible unless the user is able to move their pointer off the trigger without the additional content disappearing.

Another common situation is when large pointers have been selected via platform settings or assistive technology. Here, the pointer can obscure a significant area of the additional content. A technique to view the content fully in both situations is to move the mouse pointer directly from the trigger onto the new content. This capability also offers significant advantages for users who utilize screen reader feedback on mouse interactions. This condition generally implies that the additional content overlaps or is positioned adjacent to the target.

The intent of this condition is to ensure users have adequate time to perceive the additional content after it becomes visible. Users with disabilities may require more time for many reasons, such as to change magnification, move the pointer, or simply to bring the new content into their visual field. Once it appears, the content should remain visible until:

Benefits of Success Criterion 1.4.13: Content on Hover or Focus

Examples of Success Criterion 1.4.13: Content on Hover or Focus

Example 1: Tooltip Allowing for Visible Trigger

Screenshot of a button with a mouse pointer over it, and a tooltip displayed  below the button Screenshot of a button with a mouse pointer over it, and no tooltip
A tooltip is displayed below a button on hover so as not to obscure the button itself. A user can also press the Escape key to clear the tooltip without moving the mouse.
Screenshot of a button with a focus indicator on it, and no tooltip
The button's tooltip also appears on focus and can be removed with the Escape key.

Example 2: Hoverable Tooltip

Screenshot of a button with a large mouse pointer over it, and a tooltip displayed  below the button which is obscured by the large pointer Screenshot of a button with a tooltip below it, and a large mouse pointer at the bottom of the tooltip
A button's tooltip is displayed directly below it on mouse hover which can easily be obscured by a large pointer. The tooltip itself is able to be hovered so the mouse pointer can be moved down to its bottom edge in order to view the tooltip text.

Resources Success Criterion 1.4.13: Content on Hover or Focus

Techniques for Success Criterion 1.4.13: Content on Hover or Focus

Sufficient Techniques

  • ARIA: Using role="tooltip"
  • CSS: Using hover and focus pseudo classes

Advisory Techniques

  • None

Failures

  • Failure to have visible triggers
  • Failure to have hover content hoverable
  • Failure to meet by content on hover or focus not remaining visible until dismissed or invalid