Introducing WCAG 2.2: The New W3C Recommendation

01/17/2024

By Lily Clark

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) have long been the gold standard for digital accessibility conformance. Following its success criteria is essential to ensuring that websites, apps, and digital content are accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.

Recently, the WCAG – and the field of digital accessibility as a whole – hit a significant milestone: on October 5th, 2023, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) officially released WCAG Version 2.2. This updated document builds upon its previous iterations, adding a set of new Level A, AA and AAA success criteria.

WCAG 2.2 Success Criteria Changes

As a living document, WCAG 2.2 differs from the older WCAG 2.1. Specifically, one success criterion didn’t make the cut in WCAG version 2.2 and has been removed from the guidelines. It is:

  • 4.1.1 – Parsing (Level A): According to the W3C, this success criterion has been removed because it is now considered obsolete. This is partially due to browser and HTML advancements with parsing, and also partially due to the fact that if a component fails this success criterion then it also automatically fails other criteria.

In addition to removing 4.1.1 – Parsing, there are 9 new success criteria that have been added. They are:

  • 2.4.11 – Focus Not Obscured (Minimum) (Level AA): This criterion ensures that when an element receives focus it is not obscured by other content, and is at least partially visible to users. This is especially beneficial for people who can’t use a mouse.
  • 2.4.12 – Focus Not Obscured (Enhanced) (Level AAA): An enhanced version of the previous criterion, this ensures a higher level of clarity where the focus is never obscured.
  • 2.4.13 – Focus Appearance (Level AAA): This criterion requires a highly visible and distinguishable appearance for the focus indicator, making it easier for users with visual impairments to identify which element has focus.
  • 2.5.7 – Dragging Movements (Level AA): This criterion mandates that functions requiring dragging movements are also accessible through alternative means. This caters to users who are unable to perform complex gestures, like using a mouse to drag a component around, due to motor impairments.
  • 2.5.8 – Target Size (Minimum) (Level AA): This criterion requires a minimum target size for interactive elements, making it easier for users, including those with motor impairments or limited precision, to interact with web content.
  • 3.2.6 – Consistent Help (Level A): This criterion ensures the availability of consistent and accessible help mechanisms (like FAQs, chatbots, or contact information) across web pages, aiding users with cognitive and learning disabilities.
  • 3.3.7 – Redundant Entry (Level A): This criterion aims to minimize the need for users to re-enter information or data that has been previously provided or is available elsewhere, significantly aiding users with cognitive and memory-related disabilities.
  • 3.3.8 – Accessible Authentication (Minimum) (Level AA): This criterion focuses on making the authentication/login process accessible, ensuring that users can authenticate without relying solely on memory. This significantly benefits people with cognitive impairments.
  • 3.3.9 – Accessible Authentication (Enhanced) (Level AAA): An advanced level of the previous criterion. This criterion specifically states that you should not force users to recognize objects or images/media in order to login.

Each of these new criteria plays a pivotal role in enhancing the accessibility of digital content, ensuring that a wider range of users, regardless of their abilities, can navigate and interact with web content effectively and comfortably.

Why the Focus on Level A and Level AA is Vital

While all of the WCAG success criteria are important, Level A and Level AA success criteria are considered crucial; they represent the minimum acceptable standard for incorporating accessibility into various digital platforms and assets.

It is extremely important to emphasize that achieving Level A and Level AA conformance ensures that your website and/or digital content does not erect barriers for users with disabilities. For that reason, ensuring your business or organization meets WCAG 2.2 Level AA conformance standards is highly recommended.

Organizations should strive to meet more than simply the bare minimum accessibility requirements, though. If possible, it is best to meet all three standard levels of requirements (Level A, AA, and AAA) for higher levels of accessibility and usability.

How Accessible is Your Digital Content?

With the release of WCAG 2.2, all businesses and organizations have an opportunity to revisit and refine their digital content and interfaces. By integrating these new guidelines, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion, while also enhancing the overall user experience.

As we celebrate the release of WCAG 2.2, we want to ask:

…are you meeting the accessibility needs of all your users?

Now that WCAG 2.2 is officially out, odds are you may benefit from incorporating more accessibility best practices into your digital assets. Incorporating WCAG 2.2 into your digital assets not only aligns with ethical and legal standards but also opens your digital platforms up to a wider, more diverse audience. And in turn, a larger and more diverse audience increases revenue potential.

Our team of accessibility professionals at Ability is passionate about helping clients create accessible digital experiences for all users. If you want to take the next step and incorporate the new WCAG 2.2 guidelines into your assets, whether that’s through an audit, certification, ongoing management, or more, reach out to us!

A Quick and Easy WCAG 2.2 Guide

To help you navigate the new WCAG 2.2 success criteria efficiently, we’ve created a quick reference guide called What’s Changed in WCAG 2.2 – Level A and Level AA Quick Reference Guide.

This guide is a practical resource for referencing and implementing the new Level A and Level AA success criteria, set up in an easy and digestible format. It focuses solely on Level A and Level AA Success Criteria since they are considered crucial to providing an accessible experience to all users.

View or Download the WCAG 2.2 Quick Reference Guide at the link below:

What’s Changed in WCAG 2.2 Quick Reference Guide (PDF, 445 KB)

Together, we can ensure that the digital world is not only technologically advanced but also universally accessible. Welcome the newest version of the WCAG and join us in making digital accessibility a priority in your projects!

Is Your Website Accessible?

The Author

Lily Clark

Lily Clark