Example of a "no search results" message with a suggestion to the typo
Image description: A website titled, "Search for animals" with a highlighted searcher that says, "Felly jish." Below the message says, "0 search results. Did you mean jelly fish?"

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Why This is Important

Suggesting corrections to the errors is accessible to people with cognitive disabilities because the cause of the error might not be obvious to them.

Blind and visually impaired people use screen readers to interact with websites and apps. A screen reader is a type of assistive tech that converts things on screen to audio and/or braille. It's important that things are understandable and interactive to screen readers.

Keyboard accessibility is essential for people who do not use a computer mouse (which might be because they have unpredictable or very specific movement due to a motor disability). Many Blind and visually impaired people also use keyboard interactions in order to use their screen reader.

Error support is accessible to people with a diversity of disabilities. A cognitive disability might affect how a person perceives and understands things. A physical disability might lead to unpredictable movement. Other factors such as environment, stress, and multi-tasking may also lead to errors.

In order to be accessible, gestures and interactions must account for people with physical and motor disabilities, who might have unpredictable or very specific movement.

Identifying errors is an essential first step. Suggesting corrections to those errors is the next level of support. This is especially helpful to people with cognitive disabilities because they might not understand the nature of the error, and the suggestions can help them correct it.

If the suggestions are known and they don’t pose a security risk, then it’s important to communicate them to the user. Suggestions might be unknown if the system cannot recognize the nature of the error beyond “invalid input.” It might pose a security risk if the error is the password or some other input for their unique login.

This references WCAG criterion 3.3.3 Error Suggestion (Level AA).

Level AAA compliance is considered more difficult to meet because it requires more resources to fulfill. It also might encompass conflicting access needs (meaning what is accessible to some might be inaccessible to others). Use your best judgment of your target audience and your team's capabilities to determine if this is a pragmatic goal to reach.

How to Implement This

Writing Effective Error Messages

Writing plays a significant role in accessible error messaging. UX World recommends the following 11 tips for writing a good error message:

  1. Be clear and not ambiguous
  2. Be short and meaningful
  3. Don’t use technical jargon
  4. Be humble — don’t blame user
  5. Avoid negative words
  6. Give direction to user
  7. Be specific and relevant
  8. Avoid uppercase text
  9. Provide appropriate actions
  10. Use progressive disclosure approach
  11. Use proper placement

Here are some other resources on writing effective error messages:

Keep in mind that there may be some variations between your error messaging and others because of the tone and voice of your brand (i.e. if you’re more serious and formal, or if you’re more playful and casual). As long as the message is still clear, understandable, and actionable, then it is accessible!

Error Detection and Suggestion

Actually being able to systematically detect errors and suggest corrections requires an error detection algorithm

This section is incomplete and could use more support. If you have any suggestions, please fill out the form below!

How to Test This

Manual Test
Semi-Automated Test
Automated Test
  • Enter invalid content into the user inputs (such as nonsense in a phone number or search input)
  • Evaluate the error messaging for their suggestions


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