WCAG 2.2 is here! The most recent version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) was highly anticipated and announced yesterday, October 5, 2023, after several delays.
UsableNet has been tracking and preparing our technology and services to support. Now that it's officially a W3C standard, the WCAG 2.2 conformance level is an option for all our approaches.
This blog covers what we know about the new WCAG 2.2 and what you should consider before adopting it as your accessibility standard.
Why the Change?
For those unfamiliar, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the widely accepted industry benchmark for website accessibility. These guidelines provide specific criteria your digital content must fulfill to be accessible. The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) provides international standards for web accessibility. The W3C developed WCAG 2.2 to enhance the web experience for users from the disability community.
The new WCAG 2.2 guidelines cover many disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological disabilities. Specifically, the new success criteria extend the requirements for users with low vision, cognitive impairments, and limited fine motor skills. The added content also addresses the aging population's needs.
Companies that adopt the new standard will find that WCAG 2.2 improves the web experience for all users. WCAG 2.2 will become the industry standard due to 9 additional usability and accessibility considerations.
The Differences between WCAG 2.2 and Previous Standards
Past accessibility guidelines, like WCAG 2.0, overlooked mobile accessibility. In June 2018, WCAG 2.1 became the new accessibility standard, strongly emphasizing the mobile experience.
Now, with the introduction of WCAG 2.2, the guidelines address the accessibility of web content on desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices.
Requirements from both 2.1 and 2.0 have been integrated into 2.2, allowing you to build upon the accessibility progress you've already made. Like WCAG 2.0 and 2.1, 2.2 uses the same A/AA/AAA conformance levels.
We've linked the 9 success criteria that are new in WCAG 2.2 below:
- 2.4.11 Focus Not Obscured (Minimum) (AA)
- 2.4.12 Focus Not Obscured (Enhanced) (AAA)
- 2.4.13 Focus Appearance (AAA)
- 2.5.7 Dragging Movements (AA)
- 2.5.8 Target Size (Minimum) (AA)
- 3.2.6 Consistent Help (A)
- 3.3.7 Redundant Entry (A)
- 3.3.8 Accessible Authentication (Minimum) (AA)
- 3.3.9 Accessible Authentication (Enhanced) (AAA)
Why Adopt WCAG 2.2 Recommendations
The WCAG 2.2 guidelines are the most comprehensive available. Since WCAG 2.2 considers a broad spectrum of disabilities and technologies, it is poised to become the prevailing standard.
In addition to enhancing accessibility and usability, adopting WCAG 2.2 should ensure a positive experience for all users associated with your brand.
It's worth emphasizing that WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1 are still W3C recommendations. However, here are a few reasons why and when you might consider making WCAG 2.2 your accessibility standard:
1. Comply with Future Regulations
If you conform to WCAG 2.2, you will be in excellent shape to comply with future digital accessibility regulations.
2. Improve Accessibility
Suppose you want to make your content accessible across technologies to all users on different technologies. In that case, adopting WCAG 2.2 is the best way to ensure your content is accessible to the broadest range of people across technologies.
3. Reduce your Risk of Legal Action
ADA legal complaints often reference WCAG. For now, ADA-based digital accessibility lawsuits are likely to reference WCAG 2.1 AA. However, adopting WCAG 2.2 is the safest bet to protect your business from digital accessibility lawsuits. It is realistic to expect that plaintiffs will begin to point to WCAG 2.2 as the standard for remediation.
4. Show your Support for the Disability Community
Moving toward WCAG 2.2 accessibility before it becomes a legal requirement and ahead of others in your industry is an excellent way to demonstrate your company's commitment to accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Actions speak louder than words, and the disability community is a large, loyal community that takes notice of actions.
If are in the right place, adopting the WCAG 2.2 guidelines may be your most effective approach to better serve your customers and website visitors in the disability community.
If you're unsure which accessibility standard makes sense, contact UsableNet. We can book a 15-minute consultation to learn about your goals and help advise you on the best next step in your accessibility journey. Book now.