The release of WCAG 2.2 introduced two new level A success criteria and four new level AA success criteria. In this post, I provide a summary of Success Criteria 2.5.8, Target Size (Level AA).
The aim of Success Criterion 2.5.8 is to ensure users can click on website links and other page elements, without accidentally triggering adjacent links or targets. This is particularly important for individuals who find precise motor movements difficult. By providing adequate space between targets, and ensuring those targets are large enough, the likelihood of accidental activation of adjacent links or targets is minimised.
This requirement caters to impairments such as hand tremors, spasticity, and quadriplegia, and people using specialised input devices, rather than standard computer mice or trackpads. Meeting this criterion also enhances the usability of touchscreen interfaces.
Introducing a minimum target size
This Success Criterion establishes a minimum size. If that minimum size can’t be met, a minimum spacing requirement is stipulated. While it’s possible to meet the criterion with small targets, provided they are not too close to adjacent targets, adhering to larger target sizes is helpful for individuals with impaired motor skills. As a best practice, it’s recommended to meet at least the minimum size requirement, and for critical links or controls, striving for the more stringent 2.5.5 Target Size (Enhanced) is advised.
The criterion mandates a minimum target size of 24 by 24 CSS pixels. However, there are five exceptions:
- Spacing: Targets less than 24 by 24 CSS pixels, are acceptable if positioned so that an area of minimum size 24px that creates a circle around the target does not intersect with another similar target.
- Equivalent: If a target lacks a size equivalent to 24 by 24 CSS pixels, but another control achieving the same function meets the size requirement, an exception is granted based on equivalence.
- Inline: The Success Criterion does not apply to inline targets within sentences or where target size is constrained by line-height. This is due to unpredictable text reflow based on viewport size.
- User Agent Control: Default renderings of certain controls by browsers, like the days of the month calendar, are exempted from the target size requirement as long as the author hasn’t modified the default.
- Essential: If target size and spacing are fundamental to conveying information, the “Essential” exception applies. For instance, in digital maps or interactive data visualizations where dense targets are necessary. Alternative ways of providing equivalent functionality are encouraged when this essential exception applies.
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