Last year, WC3 announced a new version of its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG): WCAG 2.2. The final draft of 2.2 will not be released until summer 2021, but for now, W3C has released a working draft containing nine new success criteria, including eight at the AA conformance level.
While the draft isn’t final, implementing the newly drafted 2.2 AA success criteria can’t hurt you, but it does have tremendous upside. First, 2.2 conformance further demonstrates your commitment to accessibility. Secondly, it helps your audience better access your website.
Below is our summary of the proposed WCAG 2.2. AA success criteria, plus a checklist for website owners who want to get a head start.
WCAG 2.1 vs. WCAG 2.2: What’s new?
The new WCAG 2.2 AA success criteria focus on accessibility for users with low vision, cognitive and learning disabilities, and limited fine motor skills. They also address mobile devices and ebooks.
How WCAG 2.2. relates to prior WCAG versions
As with WCAG 1.0, 2.0, and 2.1, WCAG 2.2 simply builds on previous versions. No success criteria have been undone – only added or updated. So, whereas WCAG 2.1 contained 50 success criteria, WCAG 2.2 AA contains 58 – 50 from 2.1 plus eight new success criteria.
Also, like previous versions, WCAG 2.2 breaks down testable success criteria into three levels: A, AA, and AAA. Each conformance level contains the criteria from the lower levels, so if you are in conformance with WCAG 2.2. AA, you are automatically in conformance with WCAG 2.2 A.
Level A success criteria create a strong minimum baseline for accessibility but laws require AA conformance which goes beyond the minimum. Level AAA provides for more advanced accessibility measures but these are not required by law.
The vast majority of website owners should focus on level AA – the globally accepted and recommended tier of accessibility. WCAG 2.2 AA conformance can help you exceed current best practices for legal compliance.
WCAG 2.2 AA Checklist
Even though WCAG 2.2 hasn’t been officially released yet, it’s always recommended to get your digital assets in conformance with the latest standards as soon as possible. The checklist below can help you get a head start on WCAG 2.2 AA conformance.
2.4.11: Make sure the area that receives focus stands out from the background.
2.4.13: Anything you publish online should have page numbers and those page numbers should match any corresponding version or the printed version.
2.5.7: If any part of your website requires a dragging movement, provide an alternative means of dragging, such as tapping or clicking.
2.5.8: All interactive targets should take up at least 44×44 CSS pixels of space. This can include white space around the target.
3.2.6: If you make a help option available, make sure it is available consistently and in the same relative place. This way, it can be easily located as a person navigates through your site.
3.2.7: Any important controls should remain visible/available while that control is relevant and not stay hidden or disappear until they receive a mouseover or focus.
3.3.7: If your site requires a cognitive test to log in, like memorizing a username and password combination, there needs to be a different way to authenticate that doesn’t require a cognitive test.
3.3.8: When a visitor fills out a form, any previously entered information should be available through auto-fill or selection. This does not apply to confirming passwords and abandoned forms.
Remember, because this is a working draft, there’s a good chance the WC3 will update the success criteria for clarity. They may also drop some of the criteria into level AAA.
Note: WCAG conformance is not the same as legal compliance. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act does not speak to web accessibility explicitly. But in the current legal landscape, WCAG conformance is the best practice for avoiding a lawsuit.
Digital accessibility is a long game
The impending release of WCAG 2.2 AA serves as a reminder that achieving digital accessibility is an ongoing process. Laws change in response to user needs, and WCAG success criteria evolve correspondingly, requiring website owners to stay on top of their content. There’s no such thing as a one-and-done solution for web content accessibility.
The good news is that with the right services, WCAG 2.2 AA conformance is absolutely achievable. Learn more about how eSSENTIAL Accessibility can help get your digital offerings in top shape.