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Design annotations are needed for specific instances shown below, but for the standard loading component, Carbon already incorporates accessibility.

What Carbon provides

The loading component has no keyboard accessibility considerations since it is intentionally not operable or navigable. However, Carbon incorporates other accessibility considerations, some of which are described below.

Status updates

The primary accessibility consideration for the loading component is to convey its meaning to assistive technologies so users are aware of changes in status. Carbon achieves this by exposing the title value (normally “loading”) of the spinning wheel SVG image.

the loading wheel with a purple annotation showing "loading"

Screen readers hear “loading” when a spinning icon appears on the screen.

Design recommendations

Design annotations are needed for the following instance.

Convey when loading has completed

When the loading indicator disappears, it conveys a second meaning, which is ‘not loading’ or ‘finished’. However, especially where loads may take more than a few seconds, a user who cannot see the icon disappear needs to be made aware the system is no longer “loading” and is thus available for usage.

There are several ways to do this. If new content takes focus when the loading is completed (for instance after a full page load), then users will understand the system is now available. Annotating what component takes focus will ensure this is properly implemented.

File uploader with annotation on file's remove button stating 'takes focus after loading completes'

Annotate if a control takes focus after a loading completes.

Where a change of focus is not appropriate when the loading icon disappears, the information can be surfaced to users through a non-displayed status message, such as “finished” or “loading complete,” that can be conveyed to users through assistive technology.

Annotation states 'when loading is complete, create a Complete status message for assistive technology

Annotate the information that developers need to convey programmatically to assistive technology.

Development considerations

Keep these considerations in mind if you are modifying Carbon or creating a custom component.

  • Carbon uses aria-live set to “assertive” to immediately surface a loading status to assistive technologies.
  • Carbon provides an SVG title value for the loading icon, which is exposed through the aria-live section.
  • The completion of the loading state should be conveyed to assistive technologies. A non-visible status message such as “loading complete” could be put in the aria-live section or exposed through a role="status". Alternatively, focus could be set to an appropriate element.
  • See the Equal Access Toolkit information on status messages.