Success Criterion 4.1.3 Status Messages *

Understanding Success Criterion: 

In content implemented using markup languages, status messages can be programmatically determined through role or properties such that they can be presented to the user by assistive technologies without receiving focus.

Accessibility Level: 
AA
Intent of Success Criterion: 

The intent of this Success Criterion is to make users aware of important changes in content that are not given focus, and to do so in a way that doesn't unnecessarily interrupt their work.
The intended beneficiaries are blind and low vision users of assistive technologies with screen reader capabilities. An additional benefit is that assistive technologies for users with cognitive disabilities may achieve an alternative means of indicating (or even delaying or supressing) status messages, as preferred by the user.
The scope of this Success Criterion is specific to changes in content that involve status messages. A status message is a defined term in WCAG. There are two main criteria that determine whether something meets the definition of a status message:
1. the message “provides information to the user on the success or results of an action, on the waiting state of an application, on the progress of a process, or on the existence of errors;”
2. the message is not delivered via a change in context.
Information can be added to pages which does not meet the definition of a status message. For example, the list of results obtained from a search are not considered a status update and thus are not covered by this Success Criterion. However, brief text messages displayed about the completion or status of the search, such as "Searching...", "18 results returned" or "No results returned" would be status updates if they do not take focus.

Specific Benefits of Success Criterion: 

• When appropriate roles or properties are assigned to status messages, the new content is spoken by screen readers in such a way as to assist blind and low vision users. Most sighted users can observe text peripherally added to the viewport. Such content provides additional information without affecting the user's current point of regard. The ability of an assistive technology to announce such new important text content allows more users to benefit from an awareness of the information in an equivalent manner.
• Assigning proper roles or properties to status messages provides possible future uses and personalization opportunities, such as the potential to be exploited by assistive technologies created for users with some cognitive disabilities. Where page authors elect to design additions to the screen which do not change the user's context (i.e., take focus), the information is arguably of less importance than something presented using a modal dialog, which must be acknowledged by the user. As such, depending on the user's preferences, an assistive technology may choose to delay, suppress, or transform such messages so a user is not unnecessarily interrupted; or conversely the assistive technology may highlight such messages where the user finds it optimal to do so.