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Are there any Accessibility drawbacks to removing outlines on focus outside of users being affected visually? I like having a little more control over the design of elements than outline provides, so if you provide viable alternate visual style for elements when focused (e.g. background, border, etc.) does this alleviate any accessibility concerns or are there other underlining issues associated with outline being removed?

I've read and asked around and have found conflicting messages.

  • Welcome to UX.stackexchange. Could you provide examples of what you're thinking about doing? – Mayo May 22 '15 at 15:15
  • Well, here's an example of using the outline jsfiddle.net/77vs268g/3, but the real issue I'm having currently is our entire UI is rounded, and outline doesn't provide the ability to adjust border-radius. That is honestly the sole reason for me wanting to use border in lieu of outline. But the visual design would not change at all from what you see in that fiddle. – darcher May 22 '15 at 15:16
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The benefit of keeping the default outline focus indicator is that it's well understood and does not rely purely on colour, which makes it accessible to users with difficulty recognising changes in colour.

That said, it is acceptable to remove the outline and replace it with a different visual clue.

The relevant WCAG guideline is SC 2.4.7 (AA) which also includes removing the outline without providing a suitable alternative as a failure.

Turning off the focus indicator instructs the user agent not to present the focus indicator. Other styling may make it difficult to see the focus indicator even though it is present, such as outlines that look the same as the focus outline, or thick borders that are the same color as the focus indicator so it cannot be seen against them.

  • Perfect, that's exactly what I was after. Much appreciated. – darcher May 22 '15 at 15:23

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