Understanding Success Criterion 2.3.2: Three Flashes

Success Criterion 2.3.2 Three Flashes (Level AAA): Web pages do not contain anything that flashes more than three times in any one second period.


The purpose of this Success Criterion is to further reduce the chance of seizures. Seizures cannot be completely eliminated since some people are so sensitive. However, by eliminating all 3-per-second flashing over any area of the screen, the chances of a person having a seizure are further reduced than when just meeting the measures ordinarily used today in standards internationally, as we do at Level A.

Whereas Success Criterion 2.3.1 allows flashing if it is dim enough or has a small enough area, Success Criterion 2.3.2 does not allow flashing greater than 3 per second, regardless of brightness or size. As a result, even a single flashing pixel would violate this criterion. The intent is to guard against flashing larger than a single pixel, but since an unknown amount of magnification or high contrast setting may be applied, the prohibition is against any flashing.

In some cases, what we refer to as "blinking" and what we refer to as "flashing" may overlap slightly. We are using different terms for the two because "blinking" causes a distraction problem which you can allow for a short time as long as it stops (or can be stopped) whereas "flashing" is a seizure trigger and cannot be allowed or it will cause a seizure. The seizure would occur faster than most users could turn it off. "Blink" therefore refers to slow repeating changes that would distract. "Flash" refers to changes that could cause a seizure if they were bright enough or persisted long enough. Blinking usually doesn't occur at speeds of 3 per second or more so blink and flash do not overlap. However, blinking can occur faster than 3 per second so there could be an overlap. See 2.2.2: Pause, Stop, Hide for more information on blink.



Related Resources

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Each numbered item in this section represents a technique or combination of techniques that the WCAG Working Group deems sufficient for meeting this Success Criterion. However, it is not necessary to use these particular techniques. For information on using other techniques, see Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria, particularly the "Other Techniques" section.

Sufficient Techniques

  1. Ensuring that no component of the content flashes more than three times in any one second period

Advisory Techniques

Although not required for conformance, the following additional techniques should be considered in order to make content more accessible. Not all techniques can be used or would be effective in all situations.

  • Reducing contrast for any flashing content (future link)
  • Avoiding fully saturated reds for any flashing content (future link)
  • Reducing the number of flashes even if they don't violate thresholds (future link)
  • Slowing down live material to avoid rapid flashes (as in flashbulbs) (future link)
  • Freezing the image momentarily if 3 flashes within one second are detected (future link)
  • Dropping the contrast ratio if 3 flashes within one second are detected (future link)


The following are common mistakes that are considered failures of this Success Criterion by the WCAG Working Group.

Key Terms


a pair of opposing changes in relative luminance that can cause seizures in some people if it is large enough and in the right frequency range

See general flash and red flash thresholds for information about types of flash that are not allowed.

See also blinking.