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WCAG 2.2 is here! What it means for your business

By Jason Taylor on Apr 23, 2024
Topics: WCAG

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This blog was originally published in October 2023 and updated in April 2024.

WCAG 2.2 is here!

After several delays, the most recent version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) was announced yesterday, October 5, 2023.

For those unfamiliar, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the widely accepted industry benchmark for website accessibility, provided by the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). Before introducing WCAG 2.2, the W3C provided the WCAG 2.1 conformance level in June of 2018, which expanded on the preceding 2.0 level

UsableNet has been tracking the updated 2.2 guidelines and preparing our technology and services to support them. Now that it's officially a W3C standard, the WCAG 2.2 conformance level is an option for all our approaches to accessibility

We've also answered your top questions about WCAG 2.2 in a separate post

This blog covers what we know about the new WCAG 2.2 and what to consider before adopting it as your accessibility standard.

Interested in hearing accessibility experts speak more on this topic?

Join our live webinar on May 8 at 12 p.m. ET, "Mastering WCAG 2.2 AA," a special presentation tailored to developers and designers delivered by UsableNet's Accessibility Experts. Sign up for the May 8th webinar. 

Why the Change to WCAG 2.2?

In short, the W3C developed WCAG 2.2 to enhance the web experience for users from the disability community. The guidelines provide updated, specific criteria your digital content must fulfill to be accessible.

The new WCAG 2.2 guidelines cover many disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological disabilities. The guidelines extended requirements for users with low vision, cognitive impairments, and limited fine motor skills. 

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. 

Differences between WCAG 2.2 and Previous Standards

Requirements from both WCAG 2.1 and 2.0 have been integrated into 2.2, allowing you to build upon the accessibility progress you've already made. 2.2 uses the same A / AA / AAA conformance levels seen in WCAG 2.0 AND 2.1.

But past accessibility guidelines like WCAG 2.0 overlooked mobile accessibility. Not until WCAG 2.1 became the new accessibility standard in June 2018 was a strong emphasis put on 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. 

Below are the 9 success criteria that are new in WCAG 2.2: 

WCAG 2.2 has also been removed one success criterion present in 2.1: 

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 who interact 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 Accessibility Regulations

If you conform to WCAG 2.2, you will be in excellent shape to comply with future digital accessibility regulations. 

2. Improve Your Current Accessibility 

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. And for now, ADA-based digital accessibility lawsuits will likely continue referencing WCAG 2.1 AA.

However, adopting WCAG 2.2 is the safest bet to protect your business from digital accessibility lawsuits. Plaintiffs will likely 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 others in your industry and before it becomes a legal requirement 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. 

Depending on the maturity of your accessibility program, adopting the WCAG 2.2 guidelines may be your most effective approach to better serve your customers and website visitors in the disability community.

Learn more about WCAG 2.2 AA and get your questions answered by our accessibility experts. Save your seat here. 

May 8 at 12 pm ET - Join the webinar - Mastering WCAG 2.2 AA for Dev & Designers. Save your seat now.

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.

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