Change in Content without Audible Cue

Archived Issue

Current Iteration of Issue

Current Iteration as Reference

Short Description

Content changes without any trigger to the screen reader or magnifier to alert the user

Long Description

  • Tools such as JavaScript and other kinds of dynamic content make it so that the content on part of a page changes, without the whole page changing. A screen reader or magnifier recognizes when a whole page changes; but, the software is not always aware when just a portion of the page changes.
  • Screen reading software in particular uses a variety of sounds to indicate, among other things, when there is a change on a page. The audible cue is an important replacement for the visual cues that a change has occurred.
    • If there is no indication a change has occurred, a user might repeatedly click an element, assuming the first try did not work. The user might start to search the page to see if anything changed. It can be tedious to search a page for something that may or may not be there. The user might also never be aware of the change, meaning they miss information or unable to complete a task.
  • When content changes, the information often applies to the current location of the user. In the page html, however, the new content can appear at any place in the document. Since a screen reader accesses information in a linear order, this means the new content can appear out of order, can be hard to find, and requires navigating away from and then back to the current location in order to access it.
  • Screen magnification software enlarges a segment of the page, meaning other parts are not visible at that time. If there is no notification that a change has occurred, it is difficult to detect.

Example of Issue

  • A pop up that never triggers the screen reader is one example.
  • Another example is a link where the current state does not change


  • Use the ARIA live regions to alert a screen reader or magnifier to changes that do not involve a reload of the whole page. There are several options based on the kind of region or widget that is changing and how urgently the information should be delivered.
  • Use the ARIA live region alert role. This is appropriate when content is important and time sensitive. With a screen reader or braille, it will probably interrupt and insert the content as soon as it loads. With a magnifyer, it will probably provide an alert that the content has appeared. Use this sparingly.
  • To learn more about dynamic content in general, read Dynamic Content on the Accessibility and Usability site.



Impacted Assistive Technology

Screen Reader
Screen Magnifier

Impacted Type of Device