In a world where the internet plays a significant role in our daily lives, ensuring that it is accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities, is crucial. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a group dedicated to making the web work for everyone, has just released a significant update to its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Let's dive into what you need to know about WCAG 2.2 and its impact on web accessibility.
WCAG 2.2: What is it?
After more than five years of development, WCAG 2.2 has finally dropped. It focuses on making the web more accessible for people with diverse abilities and needs, with a particular focus on those with cognitive or learning disabilities and people with diverse abilities using mobile devices. It introduces additional criteria for accessibility at three different levels: A, AA, and AAA. For those who are new to WCAG, there are three levels: A, AA, and AAA. A is the basic level, AA is in the middle, widely considered and legally acceptable, while AAA is the highest and best practice for accessibility.
Before we get into what's new in WCAG 2.2, it's important to note that it doesn't replace WCAG 2.1. WCAG 2.2 builds upon the requirements of WCAG 2.1, which was already a significant step forward in web accessibility.
What WCAG 2.2 means for those currently
Organisations that are already complying with WCAG 2.1 should continue their efforts, but it's also a good idea to incorporate the new elements from WCAG 2.2 where possible. This can be seen as a best practice for making the web more accessible. The good news is that content conforming to WCAG 2.2 also meets WCAG 2.1 requirements, thanks to backward compatibility.
What's new in WCAG 2.2
WCAG 2.2 introduces new success criteria at various accessibility levels, including Level A, AA, and AAA. These criteria cover different aspects, such as ensuring consistent help mechanisms, accessible authentication, maintaining focus visibility, and setting minimum target sizes for pointer inputs. All of these are aimed at improving the overall accessibility of web content.
Here’s a summary of the new WCAG 2.2 Success Criteria:
Level A Success Criterion:
- Consistent Help (3.2.6): On a website, help features like chat windows should always appear in the same order on different pages unless the user initiates a change.
- Redundant Entry (3.3.7): If users need to enter the same information again on a website, it should be either automatically filled out or easily selectable unless it's for security reasons.
Level AA Success Criteria:
- Focus Not Obscured (Minimum) (2.4.11): Websites must ensure that any item in focus is always at least partially visible on the screen when using a keyboard.
- Dragging Movements (2.5.7): Websites should make sure that actions involving dragging can also be done with a single click, unless dragging is necessary or determined by the user's device.
- Target Size (Minimum) (2.5.8): The size of clickable areas on a website must be at least 24x24 pixels, with a few exceptions.
- Accessible Authentication (Minimum) (3.3.8): Authentication processes on websites shouldn't require cognitive function tests (like remembering a password) unless alternative methods or assistance for users with cognitive disabilities are provided.
Level AAA Success Criteria:
- Focus Not Obscured (Enhanced) (2.4.12): This builds on the Level AA Success Criterion 2.4.11, ensuring no part of an element is hidden by other content.
- Focus Appearance (2.4.13): Keyboard focus indicators should have a minimum thickness of 2 CSS pixels and a contrast ratio of at least 3:1.
- Accessible Authentication (Enhanced) (3.3.9): Similar to the Level AA Success Criterion 3.3.8, this Criterion requires that cognitive function tests in authentication processes are not needed unless alternative methods or assistance for users with cognitive disabilities are available.
Additional information and resources
- Explore Intopia's WCAG 2.2 Map, providing a visual summary of WCAG that groups success criteria by conformance levels.
- Also, check out Intopia’s WCAG 2.2 At A Glance series on their YouTube channel for more information on WCAG 2.2. They'll release the full series of videos in the coming weeks, and we think they're pretty awesome!
To help developers and content creators, the W3C offers supporting materials for understanding and implementing WCAG 2.2. These resources include:
- How to meet WCAG 2.2: A quick reference guide that covers all the guidelines, success criteria, and techniques for creating web content. It can be customised to focus on relevant content.
- Understanding WCAG 2.2: This guide breaks down each guideline and success criterion in WCAG 2.2, making it easier to grasp. It also covers key topics related to web accessibility.
- Techniques for WCAG 2.2: A collection of techniques and common pitfalls, each documented separately with descriptions, examples, code, and tests.
- The WCAG 2 documents: An introduction to the supporting documents and supplemental guidance that help make web content more accessible.
- What's new in WCAG 2.2: An overview of the new success criteria, accompanied by persona quotes that illustrate accessibility issues.
With the introduction of WCAG 2.2, we're taking another step towards a more inclusive online world. So, let's work together to make the web a place where everyone can fully participate and benefit. For more information on creating content that everyone can use, check out the Accessibility and Inclusivity Toolkit.