Timed refresh must not exist

Rule Description

The document must not use <meta http-equiv="refresh"> because it can prevent control over when the refresh occurs for users with disabilities.

The Algorithm, in Simple Terms

Checks for the presence of the http-equiv="refresh" attribute on the meta elements.

Why this is Important

Since users do not expect a page to refresh automatically, such refreshing can be disorienting. Refreshing also moves the programmatic focus back to the top of the page, away from where the user had it. Such resetting is frustrating for users.

Redirection and page refresh through the use of the <meta> element is problematic for users with disabilities in many ways. The primary reason why redirects and refreshes are problematic is because the user has no control over when the redirect or refresh occurs. If the purpose of the <meta> element is to redirect the user to a new location, server-side means should be employed instead of client-side. Content that moves or auto-updates can be a barrier to anyone who has trouble reading stationary text quickly as well as to anyone who has trouble tracking moving objects. It can also cause problems for screen readers.

Compliance Data & Impact

User Impact: Critical
Disabilities Affected:
  • Blindness
  • Deafblindness
  • Mobility/Dexterity
Severity: Critical
Issue Type:
  • WCAG 2.0 (A): MUST
  • WCAG 2.0 (AA): MUST
  • WCAG 2.1 (A): MUST
  • WCAG 2.1 (AA): MUST
WCAG Success Criteria:
  • 2.2.1 Timing Adjustable
  • 2.2.4 Interruptions
  • 3.2.5 Change on Request
Section 508 Guidelines:
  • Not applicable

How to Fix the Problem

Remove the http-equiv="refresh" attribute from each meta element in which it is present.

To modify this example and make it accessible, remove the http-equiv="refresh" attribute from the meta element.

Bad Example

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="10" url="http://www.yourdomain.com/index.html">

If the purpose of the <meta> element is to refresh the page, this should be handled through JavaScript. Furthermore, additional scripting should be used to provide users the ability to pause the refresh, extend the time between refreshes, or to turn the refresh off entirely.

For more information, see Timed Content in the Dynamic Content section of the HTML and CSS Accessibility course.

Related Deque University Course Pages

Other Related Resources

Additional Information

Relevant Technologies:
  • HTML 4
  • HTML5
  • JavaScript
Test Reliability: Automated testing is possible, with high accuracy
Rule ID: meta-refresh