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New WCAG 2.2 Release Impacts 2021 Web Accessibility

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WCAG 2.2 Checklist

The second update of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) since 2018 was expected to be published in November 2020, but has since been pushed to summer 2021.

As any new WCAG release is extremely important, we’ve broken down all of the essentials in this blog post.

What is the WCAG 2.2 Release Date?

WCAG 2.2 official release was originally expected in November 2020, but is now expected summer 2021. A 2.2 draft is already available and is highly likely to be adopted.

The last WCAG update came in June of 2018 when WCAG 2.1 was released.

What Changes Have Been Made?

The W3C has stated that this update provides additional support for people with cognitive and learning disabilities, users with low vision, and users with disabilities on mobile devices, all areas where WCAG 2.1 can be improved upon.

Each version of WCAG adds new success criteria (think of success criteria as accessibility bullet points) to the previous version so nothing has been undone if you conform to a preceding version. Here’s how it works:

  • WCAG 2.0 AA is comprised of 38 success criteria
  • WCAG 2.1 AA is 50 (38 + 12 new success criteria)
  • WCAG 2.2 AA is 58 (50 + 8 new success criteria)

(Note that these counts speak to conformance level AA.)

Conformance Levels

All versions of WCAG contain three conformance levels: A, AA, AAA. Each conformance level has an increasingly higher standard of accessibility.

Unless you know otherwise, focus on conforming to level AA before attempting to incorporate AAA. Even AA conformance can be quite a challenge to achieve.

Additionally, level AA is invariably what laws around the globe require – no matter what version of WCAG they require.

For example, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires conformance with WCAG 2.0 AA for large (50+) and public sector organizations (and governmental entities) as of January 1, 2021.

For American organizations, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doesn’t speak to web accessibility but the current legal landscape dictates that WCAG 2.0 AA or, potentially even WCAG 2.1 AA conformance is best practice for avoiding the growing threat of a lawsuit.

Legally Speaking

Incorporation of WCAG 2.2 into laws would be in 2021 at the earliest, but addressing the new eight (8) success criteria from 2.2 is a great way to exhibit your organization’s commitment to accessibility.

Summary – WCAG 2.2 AA Checklist

WCAG 2.2 is expected to include 8 new success criteria. Our own, Kris Rivenburgh’s WCAG 2.2 checklist is included below.

(Note: Despite our best efforts to ensure accuracy, there is a slight chance success criteria could change once the official document is released.)

  • 2.5.7: Dragging

    If a dragging movement is required (e.g. when adjusting a slider), provide an alternative means of dragging such as tapping or clicking.
  • 2.5.8: Pointer Target Spacing

    Make sure all interactive targets (e.g., linked icons) take up at least 44×44 CSS pixels of space. This can include white space around the target.
  • 3.2.6: Findable Help

    If you make a help option available, make sure it is available consistently, in the same relative place, so it can be located easily.
  • 3.2.7: Hidden Controls

    Any important controls (e.g., an edit button) should remain visible and/or available while that control is relevant and not stay hidden and/or disappear until they receive a mouseover or focus.
  • 3.3.7: Accessible Authentication

    If there is a cognitive test to prove you are human (e.g., Captcha), there needs to be an alternative way to authenticate that does not require a cognitive test (e.g., 2-factor authentication).
  • 3.3.8: Redundant Entry

    When filling out a form, any previously entered information is available through autofill or selection. Confirming passwords and abandoned forms are exceptions.

We will provide an official update once WCAG 2.2 is published. Subscribe to our blog below to have updates delivered directly to your inbox.

Start making your digital assets accessible today – download our WCAG 2.1 checklist and make WCAG 2.2 conformance that much easier.

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