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Understanding SC 4.1.2:Name, Role, Value (Level A)

In Brief

People using assistive technology understand all components.
What to do
Give components correct names, roles, states, and values.
Why it's important
Assistive technology only works well when code is done properly.

Success Criterion (SC)

For all user interface components (including but not limited to: form elements, links and components generated by scripts), the name and role can be programmatically determined; states, properties, and values that can be set by the user can be programmatically set; and notification of changes to these items is available to user agents, including assistive technologies.


This success criterion is primarily for Web authors who develop or script their own user interface components. For example, standard HTML controls already meet this success criterion when used according to specification.


The intent of this Success Criterion is to ensure that Assistive Technologies (AT) can gather appropriate information about, activate (or set) and keep up to date on the status of user interface controls in the content.

When standard controls from accessible technologies are used, this process is straightforward. If the user interface elements are used according to specification the conditions of this provision will be met. (See examples of Success Criterion 4.1.2 below)

If custom controls are created, however, or interface elements are programmed (in code or script) to have a different role and/or function than usual, then additional measures need to be taken to ensure that the controls provide important and appropriate information to assistive technologies and allow themselves to be controlled by assistive technologies.

What roles and states are appropriate to convey to assistive technology will depend on what the control represents. Specifics about such information are defined by other specifications, such as WAI-ARIA, or the relevant platform standards. Another factor to consider is whether there is sufficient accessibility support with assistive technologies to convey the information as specified.

A particularly important state of a user interface control is whether or not it has focus. The focus state of a control can be programmatically determined, and notifications about change of focus are sent to user agents and assistive technology. Other examples of user interface control states are whether or not a checkbox or radio button has been selected, or whether a collapsible tree view or accordion is expanded or collapsed.


Success Criterion 4.1.2 requires a programmatically determinable name for all user interface components. Names may be visible or invisible. Occasionally, the name needs to be visible, in which case it is identified as a label. Refer to the definition of name and label in the glossary for more information.


  • Providing role, state, and value information on all user interface components enables compatibility with assistive technology, such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, and speech recognition software, used by people with disabilities.


Accessible APIs
A Java applet uses the accessibility API defined by the language.

Related Resources

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.

Sufficient Techniques

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 using a standard user interface component in a markup language (e.g., HTML):

Situation B: If using script or code to re-purpose a standard user interface component in a markup language:

Situation C: If using a standard user interface component in a programming technology:

Situation D: If creating your own user interface component in a programming language:


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

Key Terms

ascii art

picture created by a spatial arrangement of characters or glyphs (typically from the 95 printable characters defined by ASCII)

assistive technology

hardware and/or software that acts as a user agent, or along with a mainstream user agent, to provide functionality to meet the requirements of users with disabilities that go beyond those offered by mainstream user agents


Functionality provided by assistive technology includes alternative presentations (e.g., as synthesized speech or magnified content), alternative input methods (e.g., voice), additional navigation or orientation mechanisms, and content transformations (e.g., to make tables more accessible).


Assistive technologies often communicate data and messages with mainstream user agents by using and monitoring APIs.


The distinction between mainstream user agents and assistive technologies is not absolute. Many mainstream user agents provide some features to assist individuals with disabilities. The basic difference is that mainstream user agents target broad and diverse audiences that usually include people with and without disabilities. Assistive technologies target narrowly defined populations of users with specific disabilities. The assistance provided by an assistive technology is more specific and appropriate to the needs of its target users. The mainstream user agent may provide important functionality to assistive technologies like retrieving Web content from program objects or parsing markup into identifiable bundles.


information and sensory experience to be communicated to the user by means of a user agent, including code or markup that defines the content's structure, presentation, and interactions

human language

language that is spoken, written or signed (through visual or tactile means) to communicate with humans


See also sign language.


text or other component with a text alternative that is presented to a user to identify a component within Web content


A label is presented to all users whereas the name may be hidden and only exposed by assistive technology. In many (but not all) cases the name and the label are the same.


The term label is not limited to the label element in HTML.


text by which software can identify a component within Web content to the user


The name may be hidden and only exposed by assistive technology, whereas a label is presented to all users. In many (but not all) cases, the label and the name are the same.


This is unrelated to the name attribute in HTML.

non-text content

any content that is not a sequence of characters that can be programmatically determined or where the sequence is not expressing something in human language


This includes ASCII Art (which is a pattern of characters), emoticons, leetspeak (which uses character substitution), and images representing text


rendering of the content in a form to be perceived by users

programmatically determined

determined by software from author-supplied data provided in a way that different user agents, including assistive technologies, can extract and present this information to users in different modalities

programmatically set

set by software using methods that are supported by user agents, including assistive technologies


text or number by which software can identify the function of a component within Web content

sign language

a language using combinations of movements of the hands and arms, facial expressions, or body positions to convey meaning

  1. The way the parts of a Web page are organized in relation to each other; and
  2. The way a collection of Web pages is organized

sequence of characters that can be programmatically determined, where the sequence is expressing something in human language

text alternative

Text that is programmatically associated with non-text content or referred to from text that is programmatically associated with non-text content. Programmatically associated text is text whose location can be programmatically determined from the non-text content.


Refer to Understanding Text Alternatives for more information.

user agent

any software that retrieves and presents Web content for users

user interface component

a part of the content that is perceived by users as a single control for a distinct function


Multiple user interface components may be implemented as a single programmatic element. "Components" here is not tied to programming techniques, but rather to what the user perceives as separate controls.


User interface components include form elements and links as well as components generated by scripts.


What is meant by "component" or "user interface component" here is also sometimes called "user interface element".

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


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


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.

Test Rules

The following are Test Rules for certain aspects of this Success Criterion. It is not necessary to use these particular Test Rules to check for conformance with WCAG, but they are defined and approved test methods. For information on using Test Rules, see Understanding Test Rules for WCAG Success Criteria.

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