WCAG 2.1 – Cognitive

On June 5, 2018, WCAG 2.1 became the official W3C recommendation. Previous versions were released in 1999 (WCAG 1.0) and 2008 (WCAG 2.0). All new updates build on WCAG 2.0 instead of replacing information (also known as “backward compatibility”). WCAG 2.1 includes one new guideline and 17 new success criteria. Eight of these criteria focus on improving mobile device accessibility, five on the low vision and four on cognitively impaired user access. If your organization has user accessibility concerns, WCAG 2.1 at Level AA is our current recommendation. The four criteria addressing cognitive abilities – including identifying input purposes, timeouts, and animation from interactions – are reviewed below.


Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example a simpler layout) without losing information or structure.

Adaptable 1.3

1.3.5 Identify Input Purpose – Level AA

The purpose of each input field collecting information about the user can be programmatically determined when:

  • The input field serves a purpose identified in the Input Purposes for User Interface Components section: and
  • The content is implemented using technologies with support for identifying the expected meaning for form input data

1.3.6 Identify Purpose – Level AAA

In content implemented using markup languages, the purpose of Use Interface Components, icons, and regions can be programmatically determined

Enough Time 2.2

2.2.6 Timeouts – Level AAA

Users are warned of the duration of any user inactivity that could cause data loss, unless the data is preserved for more than 20 hours when the user does not take any actions

Seizures and Physical Reactions 2.3

2.3.3 Animation from Interactions – Level AAA

Motion animation triggered by interaction can be disabled, unless the animation is essential to the functionality or the information being conveyed