Accessibility and Motion

How to design the delightful user experience you want for your sighted / non-motion sensitive users, without triggering distraction, nausea and migraines in the rest of us

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC
5 min readSep 13, 2019


Cartoon image of people designing video for a landscape mobile device — video recording/shooting/cutting, and directing

“Moderation in all things is the best policy.”

- Roman comic dramatist Plautus (c.250–184 BCE)

While Plautus never had to deal with motion in the context of technology, his commentary on moderation is definitely relevant to the topic of making motion accessible to all users. The following elements are common sources of motion on web pages and in mobile apps:

  • A small “jiggle” of a field outline acting as a subtle reminder that data must be entered before a form can be submitted
  • Auto-playing carousels and videos
  • Simple unlooped animated .GIF
  • Microsoft Clippy-like “LOOK AT ME” continuously-looping, attention-grabbing animation

You may be one of the lucky people who have learned to ignore or even benefit from motion. Yet there are many distinct groups of individuals who are adversely impacted by motion which can include people with chronic motion sickness, dyslexia, epilepsy, migraines, attention deficit disorder, anxiety, people on the autism spectrum, and screen reader users.

Here is a quick review of the issues to consider when considering adding motion to your website or mobile app to :

  • keep motion compliant with the WCAG standards;
  • wow the people you want to wow; and
  • not tick off the motion-sensitive people in the world.

Step 1: Follow the WCAG motion guidelines

There are two key A-level guidelines in WCAG pertaining to motion. These both are absolutely, critically, non-negotiable.

  • 2.2.2 is the “Pause/Stop/Hide” guideline for automatic motion lasting more than five seconds
  • 2.3.1 is the “Three Flashes or Below Threshold” guideline aka the “don’t trigger a seizure” rule



Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

LinkedIn Top Voice for Social Impact 2022. UX Collective Author of the Year 2020. Disability Inclusion SME. Sr Staff Accessibility Architect @ VMware.