Announce dynamic changes with live regions for canvas apps

Dynamic changes pose challenges to the visually-impaired. Users who access an app through a screen reader are focused on one part of the app. If a change happens elsewhere, those users won't be aware of it.

You can solve this problem by adding live regions, which screen readers track. If content changes in a live region, a screen reader will announce that change.

The underlying mechanism for live regions are aria-live regions, so the same guidelines apply.

Example uses of live regions

You can use live regions to notify users when events such as these occur:

  • A validation error occurs in a form.
  • An action triggered by a button is successful. For example, a user might select a button to add an item to a collection, and a live region could show the message "Item added".
  • The user selected a different tab.
  • A background timer refreshes a news feed.

Create and configure a live region

You can configure only a Label control as a live region. Its Live property determines what type of live region it is.

  • Off: Not a live region. Screen readers don't announce changes.
  • Polite: Screen readers announce changes after finishing speaking. Use this value for non-critical notifications that don't require immediate attention.
  • Assertive: Screen readers interrupt themselves to announce changes immediately. Use this for critical notifications that require immediate attention.

If the text content of a live region changes, screen readers will announce the entire text content, not just the changed portion. If the value of the Text property is set to the empty string "", the screen reader doesn't announce anything.

To repeat a message, clear text contents by setting the value of the Text property to the empty string "" and then set the value to the message again.

Best practices

  • Always set Visible to true. Some screen readers don't detect live regions that disappear and reappear.
  • Avoid changing the value of Live. Some screen readers don't detect when a non-live region becomes live and vice-versa.
  • Position the live region in a logical position in the app, even if it isn't visible. Ensure that its contents are sensible in context with the elements before and after it. Users can access a live region anytime through regular navigation with a screen reader, not just when changes happen.

Next steps

Learn how to show content only to screen readers if the live region should be hidden from sighted users.