Web Consortium Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 is on its way. Are you ready for the changes this will bring?
Bender is excited that new criteria will help to enhance the accessibility of your websites, apps, and documents and we are prepared to support you in complying with these changes.
Why is compliance with the new WCAG guidelines important?
Compliance is about more than meeting the minimum legal requirements (WCAG 2.x) – it is about expanding your audience base to maximize your organization’s impact in a world that is becoming more and more inclined toward virtual-first thinking and activity. Currently, 97.4% of the world’s top one million websites don’t offer full accessibility, making it difficult for people with a variety of disabilities to apply for jobs, identify service providers, or make purchases online. According to the CDC, 1 in 4 people in the United States have a disability and globally, people with disabilities represent a market with the spending power roughly equal to the market size of China.
Let’s take a look at how WCAG 2.2 compares with WCAG 2.1 and 2.0. WCAG 2.2:
- Is backward compatible with WCAG 2.1 and 2.0. This means that if you adhere to these earlier versions of the guidelines, you may need to do little work to comply with 2.2.
- Continues the work of WCAG 2.1 to improve accessibility for people living with cognitive, learning, and low-vision disabilities.
- Goes beyond minimum compliance with WCAG 2.0, the de-facto standard for meeting compliance with Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act, further minimizing risk of lawsuits and adverse publicity.
So, what is changing?
WCAG 2.2 has removed one success criterion, 4.1.1 Parsing. This means that if you update your websites, mobile apps, documents, and accessibility policies to WCAG 2.2, you will no longer need to conform to this criterion, which requires that mark-up conform to the syntax requirements of the W3C. For example, you will not need to do time-consuming checking for opening and closing tags and correctly coded attributes for HTML.
We caution you, though, to be aware that assistive technology may react adversely to code syntax errors, so you will still want to check code syntax if assistive technology reacts unexpectedly.
The following criterion has been changed in WCAG 2.2.
- Focus Visible. Changed from Level AA to Level A. This means that if Focus Appearance makes it into the final criteria, you will need to adhere to Focus Appearance, since it is at Level AA, rather than Focus Visible, which is at Level A.
The following new criteria are included in WCAG 2.2.
- Consistent Help (A). This criterion requires that the help mechanism on pages appears in the same spot from page to page. For example, in the right-most entry of the menu bar. It relates to the Consistent Navigation and Consistent Identification criterion from 2.1 and 2.0.
- Redundant Entry (A). This requirement helps avoid entering previously entered information, easing cognitive load for people with learning disabilities and everyone else.
- Focus Appearance (AA). This criterion enhances Focus Visible by requiring that all four sides of focused controls have a border and includes contrast requirements for the border and the contrast between controls and the surrounding content. It relates to the Non-text Contrast criterion in 2.1.
- Focus Not Obscured (Minimum) (AA). This criterion requires that enough controls and links are visible to be able to see and use them. This makes it easier for people with low vision and everyone else to use controls and links with the keyboard.
- Focus Not Obscured (Enhanced) (AAA). This requires that controls or links are completely uncovered.
- Dragging Movements (AA). This requires that dragging is only used when essential. It helps people with motor disabilities and people who are blind by requiring that controls and links use tapping rather than dragging. For example, in chess applications, the player would tap a piece, then tap the square the piece moves to, rather than dragging the piece to a square. This does not prevent you from allowing dragging. It only gives another way to accomplish the effect.
- Target Size (Minimum) (AA). This helps older people, people with learning disabilities, and people with motor disabilities activate mobile controls and use a mouse to activate web controls and links on computers by requiring that the hit point be big enough to click or tap more easily than in the past. It requires a minimum size for target hit points.
- Accessible Authentication (AA). This helps people with learning disabilities by not making them solve a puzzle or do a math problem to log in or take a step in a process by requiring an alternate way to authenticate. For example, allowing the browser or a password manager to fill in the password or provide a piece of information, such as a picture they previously entered. This relates to the Input Purpose and Name, Role, Value criteria.
- Accessible Authentication (Enhanced) (AAA). This criterion is the same as Accessible Authentication but without the exceptions for objects and user-provided content.
This ends our brief look at the new WCAG criterion. You can rely on Bender to use our expertise in assistive technology and visual testing to test and verify your accessibility. We can help with code inspection in the browser and how it affects assistive technology that conveys your message to people with disabilities. We understand intimately how mobile, and computer assistive technology should react to your code, so feel free to reach out.