WCAG 2.2 is coming: What’s new and how to easily comply
Now more than ever, with so many of us spending more time at home and on the web, it is critical that web content is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. To help realize that goal, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) earlier this year released the draft of the latest update to their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.2 (WCAG 2.2).
WCAG 2.2 builds on the previous version of the standard, WCAG 2.1, by further improving accessibility guidance for users with cognitive or learning disabilities, users with low vision, and users with disabilities on mobile devices.
To help organizations realize this standard, we share below —
- The new additions to the WCAG 2.2 guidelines
- Why companies should address the latest guidelines now to improve their business outcomes and avoid the risk of website accessibility lawsuits, which have become common
- The most complete and cost-effective approach to complying with the guidelines.
What’s new in WCAG 2.2.
WCAG 2.2 is backwards compatible, building upon the prior guidelines by adding nine new success criteria. Eight of the new success criteria are at Level A and AA, so, if like many companies, you are targeting level AA, this update requires your attention.
- 2.4.11 Focus Appearance (Minimum) (AA). This criterion pertains to the keyboard focus indicator — the visual indicator that shows where someone is on a page. The criterion provides guidance on the recommended minimum level of visibility that ensures the keyboard focus indicator is clearly visible to users.
- 2.4.12 Focus Appearance (Enhanced) (AAA). Building on the prior criterion, this criterion provides additional specifications designed to ensure heightened visibility of the keyboard focus indicator.
- 2.4.13 Fixed Reference Points (A). This new guideline will benefit those with visual impairments who rely on electronic publications. The criterion calls for a physical publication’s fixed reference points, such as page numbers, to also be present in the electronic form of the publication. Thus, if a professor asks students to read a passage on page 88 of a book, page 88 in the electronic publication must match page 88 in the physical book, so that users can easily navigate to the correct page in the e-publication.
- 2.5.7 Dragging (AA). This criterion is designed to improve accessibility for people who cannot precisely perform an on-screen dragging motion or who rely on assistive technology, such as an eye-gaze system that doesn’t allow for dragging. The criterion requires that an alternative system be available to the user. For example, if dragging allows one to move around within a map, the map must also provide another means, such as arrows, for moving within the map.
- 2.5.8 Pointer Target Spacing (AA). Targets are the region of the display that will accept a pointer action, such as clicking with a mouse or touching on a touchscreen. Examples of targets include “buy now” buttons and links. This criterion calls for a certain amount of spacing between targets to ensure users can easily activate a target without accidentally activating an adjacent target.
- 3.2.6 Findable Help (A). This criterion recommends various approaches that make getting help on a web page easier for all users. For example, FAQs or a contact phone number should be easy to find.
- 3.2.7 Hidden Controls (AA). The W3C recommends that controls needed to complete or progress a process are visible at the time they are needed without the user having to hover a pointer over them or otherwise interact with them. Making the controls persistently visible is one approach to meeting this criterion.
- 3.3.7 Accessible Authentication (A). If an authentication process relies on a cognitive function test, at least one other authentication method must be available that does not rely on a cognitive function test. For example, if logging into an account requires a username (which requires the cognitive function of remembering a username), another non-cognitive log-in method, such as biometric sensing, must also be available.
- 3.3.8 Redundant Entry (A). The W3C specifies that, in a multi-step process, the user shouldn’t have to recall or re-enter previously supplied information, which would be difficult for a user with cognitive or memory challenges. For example, if the user has already supplied their billing address, an option should exist to confirm that the shipping address is the same.
Why organizations should comply with WCAG 2.2 now
Digital accessibility is mandatory in many countries around the world, and in the U.S. through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Recent years have seen an explosive growth in the number of ADA website-accessibility lawsuits, which rocketed to 177% between 2017 and 2018. While the tide of litigation appears to be levelling off, the numbers remain high. According to the 2019 Seyfarth report that measures ADA Title III website accessibility lawsuits, there were 2,256 filed in 2019 alone.
Aside from the potential legal ramifications of failing to provide an accessible website, companies miss out on the opportunity to capture market share (approximately $500 billion in purchasing power). This is especially true in the age of COVID-19, when more and more disabled individuals are relying on digital services to get the support they need.
As the pressures mount, it’s becoming critical for companies to align with the law or face significant risk and loss of business opportunity.
While WCAG 2.0 remains a W3C recommendation — and is the default standard cited in accessibility litigations — organizations should start considering WCAG 2.2 criteria now, both to help future-proof their current accessibility efforts and to ensure better support for the needs of web and mobile users with disabilities.
The most complete and cost-effective approach to enterprise compliance
You probably noticed that complying with the new nine guidelines — and all of the pre-existing WCAG guidelines — is a task that requires considerable attention to technical details.
Moreover, the guidelines are continually evolving. The W3C’s Silver Task Force is working toward a major restructuring of the accessibility guidelines, which will be named WCAG 3.0. and is targeted for November 2022.
Given the technical and resource challenges of staying up to date with WCAG guidelines, many organizations struggle to achieve even basic levels of compliance, hampering the success of their digital initiatives and putting their organizations at risk. At Crownpeak, we're passionate advocates for web accessibility and believe in helping our customers achieve an inclusive and exceptionally good user experience for all.
That’s why we built Digital Quality Management with Auto-Fix: the most complete and cost-effective solution for enterprise accessibility compliance.
Combining artificial intelligence (AI)-powered automatic remediation with detailed scanning and reporting, Crownpeak DQM provides the industry's only end-top-end accessibility compliance platform, significantly accelerating compliance and providing a safety net for your web presence. We continually update DQM in accordance with the latest WCAG guidelines, so using DQM for your website makes ongoing WCAG compliance easy.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Crownpeak DQM can help you get ADA and WCAG compliant in a matter of hours, request a demo.