Accessible New Years’ Resolutions — Touch Target Size

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC
5 min readFeb 26, 2019
Icons demonstrating small, medium, and large touch target sizes

As previously promised, I am going to to a deep dive every month on implementing features associated with the new WCAG 2.1 AA guidelines. Last month’s discussion was on the deadline for implementing the new guidelines. This month’s deep dive is on touch target size.

Touch target size seems like an insignificant thing to implement. Make the activation area big enough that people with poor fine motor skills can activate the control with a minimal amount of difficulty. How hard can that be? Is that really worth an entire Medium article? Turns out it’s a lot more complicated than one would initially think.

W3C used Github for tracking all questions and comments pertaining to the WCAG 2.1 update. Looking at the comment stream in the WCAG 2.1 github repository, out of the 24 issues discussed, touch target size won second place for most number of comments.

Adding to the confusion surrounding the WCAG 2.5.5 guideline is the fact that it appears that minimum touch target size may have originally been proposed to be a AA guideline, and somewhere along the way, got moved into AAA.

Despite the fact that WCAG 2.5.5 ended up as an AAA requirement, I feel it is important to consider implementing minimum touch target size as a best practice. Small touch target sizes impact people with several different types of disabilities as well as potentially creating a poor user experience for people without disabilities.

  • People with vision loss may have difficulty seeing a small target
  • People with poor fine motor skills may have difficulty activating a small target
  • People with large fingers may accidentally activate multiple adjacent touch target sizes
  • When users end up in the wrong place because they activated something that they didn’t intend to, they have to take the time to get back which adversely impacts people with memory loss who may not remember where they came from. In UX testing, this has been shown to lead to cart abandonment because users get frustrated with the process

How big is 44 CSS px anyways?

Apple started it all in their Human Interface Guidelines, recommending 44 pt as the minimum recommended…

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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.