Inactive UI components and WCAG 2 compliance

Richards, Jan jrichards at
Tue Oct 12 18:19:50 UTC 2010

Hi Jonathon,

I think it means that the button text must meet the relevant contrast requirement when active (clickable), but is then exempt once it becomes inactive.

My assumption is that they did this on purpose because "graying out" is a very common practice when things are inactive.


(Mr) Jan Richards, M.Sc.
jrichards at | 416-977-6000 ext. 3957 | fax: 416-977-9844
Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) |
Faculty of Design | OCAD University

From: jhung.utoronto at [mailto:jhung.utoronto at] On Behalf Of Jonathan Hung
Sent: October 12, 2010 10:55 AM
To: Richards, Jan
Cc: Fluid Work; Gay, Greg
Subject: Inactive UI components and WCAG 2 compliance

Hi Jan,

Greg and I were having a conversation in the IRC channel about WCAG compliance and inactive/disabled UI components. According to the WCAG guideline, it states:
"Text or images of text that are part of an inactive user interface component, that are pure decoration, that are not visible to anyone, or that are part of a picture that contains significant other visual content, have no contrast requirement."


In the context of a button that is active and then becomes inactive when activated (i.e. a Submit button that is enabled until pressed), how should we interpret this guideline? It seems the *act* of becoming inactive is significant (this merits contrast?), however, the guideline states that the contrast requirement doesn't apply to inactive components. How should we handle contrast styling in this case?

- Jonathan.

Jonathan Hung / jhung at<mailto:jhung.utoronto at>
IDRC - Interaction Designer / Researcher
Fax: (416) 977-9844
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