Error Identification
Success Criterion 3.3.1 (Level A)


If an input error occurs in your site or application, is the error identified and described to the user in text form?

Why is this important

When an input error occurs, it is important for the user to know where it has occurred and what caused the error. Without this key information the user may not find the error or know how to fix it to continue. It is important that the identification and description of the error be in text form for two reasons. First, so that assistive technologies can communicate this specific information to the user, and second, so those who are color deficient or have cognitive disabilities can identify and understand the error more clearly.

Whom does it benefit?

Example 1:

As a person who relies on assistive technology to read electronic content,
I want text based error messages to be provided,
so that the assistive technology I use will be able to interpret and relay the error message to me.

Example 2:

As a student with a learning disability
I want the error to be described in a simple, detailed message
so that I can understand what I did incorrectly.

What should you do?

When providing an input error message to the user, be sure to include the following information in text form:

  • Identify which input field has the error
  • Provide a description of what the error is

How do you do it?

Some accessible approaches to displaying error messages include:

  • Provide text-based error messages at the top of the form or error messages adjacent to each form field that has an error
  • Provide an alert pop-up window with the location and description of the error (be sure that the pop-up window receives focus – for assistive technology)
  • Provide dynamic text-based error messages while the user enters data (be sure that dynamic messages receive immediate focus – for assistive technology)

Need technical guidance?

Technical guidance is available for implementing this Success Criterion at the Understanding Success Criterion 3.3.1 - Error Identification page.

Additional Resources to help you: