The Accessibility Guidelines Working Group at the W3C is still working on finalizing the most recent version (2.2) of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2 series. The latest public working draft of WCAG 2.2 was released in August but the editor’s draft continues to be updated through this month. Here are some quick facts to keep in mind about WCAG 2.2:
- WCAG 2.2 is still a working draft, not a final recommendation.
- WCAG 2.2 is expected to be a recommendation around June 2021.
- WCAG 2.2 builds on WCAG 2.1 just as WCAG 2.1 built on 2.0.
- There are likely to be 9 new success criteria.
The expected date of WCAG 2.2 publication was push out by several months and it remains in draft status. If you would like to submit feedback to the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group, you can do so on Github or via the W3C mailing list.
Based on the timeline provided by the W3C, a candidate recommendation is likely in February 2021 with the recommendation hopefully going to proposed status in April with it becoming an official recommendation in June 2021.
The updates extend WCAG 2.x series of guidelines, keeps existing backwards compatibility, and keeps existing conformance model. The new success criteria will be additions to the existing guidelines with one criterion 2.4.7 Focus Visible slated to change level from AA to A. Most organizations aim for level A and AA conformance and thus a change will likely not impact most organizations in meeting WCAG 2.2 by leveraging the work they have already done for WCAG 2.1. This change would not apply to prior versions of the guidelines such as 2.0.
The Editors draft indicates 9 new success criteria – 4 at Level A (not including the change for 2.4.7 Focus Visible) and 4 at Level AA and 1 at Level AAA. The criteria aim to assist users with low vision, cognitive and learning disabilities, and those with motor disabilities with benefits for users that have disabilities on mobile devices.
Draft criteria address the following (links are for the latest editor’s draft of WCAG 2.2)
- Accessible Authentication (Level A)
- Dragging Movements (Level AA)
- Findable Help (Level A)
- Fixed Reference Points (Level A)
- Focus Appearance (Minimum) (Level AA)
- Focus Appearance (Enhanced) (Level AAA)
- Visible Controls (Level AA)
- Pointer Target Spacing (Level AA)
- Redundant Entry (Level A)
Going forward, most effort will be put into a future version of accessibility guidelines – a “WCAG 3.0.”. 3.0 will be major successor revision of WCAG guidelines and will not be backwards compatible. A first public working draft of the W3C Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 3.0 is due out very soon either at the very end of 2020 or early 2021. The final recommendation of WCAG 3.0 is predicted to be published in November of 2023.
The working group continues to create techniques that will document sufficient and failure examples for the WCAG 2 series of guidelines with emphasis placed on creating techniques for the new criteria in WCAG 2.2. Additional supporting documents including How to Meet WCAG 2.2 and Understanding WCAG 2.2 are in development with drafts posted for Understanding WCAG 2.2.
- We have no details suggesting that it would be taken up by the US government into Section 508
- After WCAG 2.2 is released it will likely be referenced at some point by accessibility advocates in settlement agreements and litigation – but not until the second half of 2021 at the earliest.
- Some US states, organizations, and higher education institutions adopted WCAG 2.1 in the first year while others remain on 2.0. Some organizations are likely to adopt the latest while others will hold back.
- The standards body who created EU Standard EN 301 549 will examine WCAG 2.2 criteria for inclusion in the EU standard – but this consideration is still several months out and we have no confirmation of specific details
- Any effort to specify web standards for use in websites under Title III of the ADA by the Department of Justice or congress is likely several years away at best (if at all). However, we do expect the DOJ to take a more proactive stance in regards to digital accessibility more similar to what was done during the Obama administration.
Those who consider inclusion as an important aspect of doing business and those with public websites subject to the ADA will want to track these updates as something to consider during the design of new digital content. For those interested, contributions or comments to the W3C are welcome.
The current draft 2.2 standards are in our AMP platform – they are not yet finalized due to the draft nature of the WCAG 2.2 standards. As soon as the standards are locked down AMP will be updated with the latest version. We are actively considering how each new criterion can be evaluated automatically and manually and will address a testing approach in our platform for each new criterion.
At present, Level Access has three team members – including Chief Accessibility Officer Jonathan Avila – who are part of the W3C’s Accessibility Guidelines Working Group helping to define the WCAG 2.2 standards.