Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 is the latest version of the internationally recognised accessibility standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The W3C recently announced that WCAG 2.2 is scheduled to be completed and published in May 2023.*
What is WCAG 2.2?
The WCAG guidelines are designed to improve web accessibility; they provide recommendations on how to increase the usability of a website and make it accessible to people with disabilities. The guidelines are based on four essential accessibility principles:
Perceivable: users must be able to perceive it in some way, using one or more of their senses.
Operable: users must be able to control UI elements
Understandable: the content must be understandable to its users
Robust: the content must be developed using well-adopted web standards that will work across different browsers, now and in the future.
WCAG 2.2 extends the accessibility guidelines set by previous standards – 2.0 and 2.1. The success criteria from 2.0 and 2.1 will remain the same (verbatim, word-for-word) and it will keep the three existing cumulative levels of conformance – A, AA, and AAA.
The focus of this update is to provide additional support for users with cognitive and learning disabilities, users with low vision and users with disabilities on mobile devices.
The guidelines introduce nine new success criteria – two at Level A, five at Level AA and two at Level AAA. They are not technology-specific, but rather written as testable statements. Additionally, the guidelines will move one existing criteria down from Level AA to Level A and make another one obsolete removing it completely.
WCAG 2.2 Level A requirements
3.2.6 Consistent Help (A) will make it easier for users to find the help or information they need by keeping help mechanisms (such as a live chat or FAQ) in a consistent, relative position across multiple web pages in a set.
3.3.7 Redundant Entry (A) will avoid users having to re-enter the same details more than once in the same user journey by automatically populating previously submitted information or making it available for the user to select.
WCAG 2.2 Level AA requirements
2.4.11 Focus Appearance (AA) specifies requirements for the appearance of focus indicators – including size and contrast. This criterion requires a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 between the focus indicator and adjacent colours and a minimum contrast of 3:1 between focused and unfocused states.
2.4.12 Focus Not Obscured (Minimum) (AA) requires that a focused component is not partially obscured by other content on the page such as pop-up modals.
2.5.7 Dragging Movements (AA) where functionality requires a dragging movement, such as a drag-and-drop interface, this criterion ensures that an alternative mechanism is available for users to achieve the same action.
2.5.8 Target Size (Minimum) (AA) sets a minimum size for the target of pointer inputs of at least 24 by 24 CSS pixels. This will help to ensure that interactive elements, such as buttons or menu items, are big enough or have sufficient space between them to reduce the risk of users accidently selecting the wrong input.
3.3.8 Accessible Authentication (AA) must avoid authenticating users through cognitive tasks without making alternatives or help available. This criterion ensures that password manager inputs and copy/paste inputs are supported.
WCAG 2.2 Level AAA requirements
2.4.13 Focus Not Obscured (Enhanced) (AAA) builds on the minimum requirement set out in 2.4.12 and requires the focused component is not completely obscured by other content.
3.3.9 Accessible Authentication (Enhanced) (AAA) builds on 3.3.8 and will make it easier for users to log in by making authentication possible without the need for cognitive tests.
What does this mean for you?
Websites that currently meet the WCAG 2.1 standard, at any level, will maintain 2.1 conformance after WCAG 2.2 is published. To achieve the same standard under the 2.2 guidelines, they will need to pass new success criteria.
Current Government legislation mandates Public Sector organisations meet the WCAG 2.1 Level AA standard. At the end of 2022, the Government Digital Service (GDS) announced that WCAG 2.2 Level AA, when it’s published, will become the expected standard, and will start monitoring for the new WCAG 2.2 criteria in early 2024.
How are we preparing for WCAG 2.2 at Zoonou?
The impending release of WCAG 2.2 serves as reminder that accessibility is an ongoing process. As user needs change and technology advances, so too will the guidelines and legislation – requiring organisations to stay on top of their accessibility testing.
With the working draft available, the Accessibility Team here at Zoonou have introduced the new success criteria into their test scripts. This allows us to give clients early feedback on their conformance to the new standard helping them to prepare for the imminent update.
Head over to our Accessibility testing services page for more information.
*Note that details in this post are correct at the time of publication.