WCAG 2.2 Is Live. Here’s What to Do About It

On October 5, 2023, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.2) officially made its debut as the new star of web accessibility standards, brought to you by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). It represents a significant milestone in web development and offers a chance to celebrate the global push to create digital experiences that are truly inclusive.
Now, you might be wondering, "What's the big deal?" Well, hang tight, because there's more to this story.

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What Does WCAG 2.2 Mean for You?

Let's get straight to the point. If you're all about staying ahead of the digital accessibility curve (which if you’re reading this, you undoubtedly are), then WCAG 2.2 deserves your attention. Sure, the reigning champion of accessibility standards is still WCAG 2.1, but here's the twist – with WCAG 2.2 being the latest standard, it will undoubtedly take centre stage in pending and upcoming legislation.

For example, the existing EU Web Accessibility Directive from 2016 as well as the upcoming European Accessibility Act (EAA) both point to the EN 301 549 standard which currently references WCAG 2.1 However, it is not unthinkable that this standard will be updated to WCAG 2.2 to ensure the most progressive accessibility possible. Whether that will happen before or after the 2025 EAA deadline, we'll have to wait and see.

For accessibility legislation and guidelines in other countries, such as Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, we'll need to wait and see if the governments decide to act on these newly published guidelines. But with many countries focused on investing in reducing the digital divide, it is not unimagineable that 2.2 will be brought up as a north star for digital accessibility.

But nonetheless – it does beg the question:why wait? Diving into these updates early means you'll be well-prepared for when the final 2025 deadline rolls around, as well as any potential update to EN 301 549. No last-minute rush, no stress – just a well-prepared, web-accessible party.

What's New in WCAG 2.2?

Ready for the details? WCAG 2.2 doesn't just arrive empty-handed. It introduces nine new success criteria, with six of them at levels A and AA, the ones most of us aim to meet. The three AAA criteria are even more accessible versions of two of the criteria, as well as one new criteria on the appearance of on-screen focus indicators.

Let’s walk through these new additions to WCAG 2.2, which aim to enhance web accessibility for all users.

 

New Success Criteria #1 – Focus Not Obscured (Minimum) (AA)*

We’ve all experienced interactive elements that mysteriously vanish behind other content. This guideline ensures that interactive components remain visible and accessible, eliminating frustrating moments when buttons and links disappear from view.

*There is also an enhanced AAA version of this criteria.

 

New Success Criteria #2 – Dragging Movements (AA)

Accessibility is all about flexibility, and this criterion promotes alternative interaction methods. Users with different needs should be able to interact with your website efficiently. This new criteria ensures alternative methods for dragging movements. Think of it as accommodating various input methods, such as keyboard and touch screen, for a more inclusive user experience.

 

New Success Criteria #3 –Target Size (Minimum) (AA)

"Bigger is better" is the key takeaway here. To cater to touch screen users, it's crucial to have touch-friendly targets. This update encourages web designers to make interactive elements larger and more accessible, reducing the chance of accidental taps and ensuring a smoother user experience.

 

New Success Criteria #4 – Consistent Help (A)

No more searching for assistance. This guideline emphasizes the importance of keeping help features in a consistent location across your website. Users shouldn't have to embark on a scavenger hunt to find the help they need. Consistency ensures a more user-friendly and accessible experience.

 

New Success Criteria #5 – Redundant Entry (A)

Are your website visitors tired of repeatedly filling out forms? This success criteria encourages websites to implement features like autofill to streamline the input process, making it easier for users to enter information and reducing frustration. For example, if your billing address and delivery address are the same, you should be able to indicate that with one simple click. Rather than filling out your address twice.

 

New Success Criteria #6 – Accessible Authentication (Minimum) (AA)*

Authentication processes can be complex, but they don't have to be. This guideline aims to simplify authentication methods, ensuring that everyone can easily access your platform. Say goodbye to mind-boggling puzzles and hello to a more accessible login experience.

*There is also an enhanced AAA version of this criteria.

 

New Success Criteria #7 - Focus Appearance (AAA)

This new criteria focuses on improving web accessibility by ensuring that the keyboard focus indicator is clearly visible and distinguishable. It mandates that the indicator should be of sufficient size and contrast to aid users who rely on keyboard navigation or screen readers, including older individuals and those with specific impairments. This criterion sets specific size and contrast requirements to enhance the visibility of the focus indicator, contributing to a more inclusive and user-friendly digital experience for all.

Why Should You Embrace WCAG 2.2 Now?

You might be wondering why it's important to embrace WCAG 2.2 at this moment. Well, it's an excellent question. Whether or not you are legally obligated to comply, taking steps to adopt WCAG 2.2 is a smart decision. These updates address common issues that we've all encountered while testing web accessibility, and they make fundamental improvements. The WCAG team has been attentive to these concerns, and the new standards benefit not only users with disabilities but also all users in general.

If your organization is subject to Web Accessibility Laws, it's essential to evaluate how well your digital solutions comply with WCAG 2.2 standards. You can then begin the process of incorporating the updated success criteria in order to position yourself as a champion of accessibility for your website visitors.

Leading the Charge: Embracing WCAG 2.2 and Shaping the Future of Web Accessibility

WCAG 2.2 has made its entrance and is here to stay. So, go ahead, explore the new frontier of web accessibility with WCAG 2.2. Embrace the changes, be proactive, and help create a digital world that welcomes everyone. Remember, accessibility isn't just a requirement; it's a step toward a brighter online future.

Stay tuned for more updates, and always remember: the internet is for everyone. Let's make it awesome together.

At Monsido, we've already got the WCAG 2.2 Draft Version available in our platform, and we'll be introducing an update very soon to align with the published WCAG 2.2 guidelines. Curious to see how you stack up? Scan your website against a draft version of WCAG 2.2. now.

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