Prevent errors when handling legal and financial data

Example of confirming information on a form with legal information
Image description: Website titled, "Filing your tax returns," with text below that says, "Please confirm all this important info is correct." There are 2 text fields below. The social security number field says, "XXX-XX-1234" with a black "show" button next to it. The date of birth field says, "01/01/2001." To the right is a purple cartoon character saying, “Oops!”

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Why This is Important

Because there could be serious consequences when making a mistake on legal and financial data, it’s essential to provide error recovery.

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.

Legal and financial data make a big impact in people’s lives. If people make mistakes when handling sensitive data, it could lead to serious consequences. Therefore, error recovery here is essential.

This references WCAG criterion 3.3.4 Error Prevention (Legal, Financial, Data) (Level AAA).

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

WCAG recommends 3 ways to handle error recovery:

  • Reversible - There is a way to reverse your actions (like an undo button).
  • Checked - The system checks the data for errors and provides the opportunity to fix them.
  • Confirmed - There is a way to review and confirm the data before submitting it.

Building undo functionality is a pretty complex task. Here is some related reading:

Checking the data for errors relates to the following guidelines:

Many sites that deal with financial transactions (online shopping, food delivery, money exchange, etc.) include a confirmation page that allows you to review the transaction before submitting. This is a great way to make sure all the details you entered, such as your shipping address or your credit card information, is accurate. You don’t want to order food to the wrong address!

Here is a list of examples of order review pages. Baymard Institute, a UX Research group, provides great annotations for best practices.

How to Test This

Manual Test
Semi-Automated Test
Automated Test

If the website/app involves legal or financial data, make sure there is a way to reverse actions, that the system checks for errors, and there is a way to review and confirm all the data before submitting it.


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