This blog has been updated to reflect the most recent information from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
In 2020, WC3 announced the first public working draft of a new version of its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG): WCAG 2.2. The final version of the 2.2 guidelines is expected to be released later in 2023 (July, August, or September), containing nine new success criteria.
While website conformance with WCAG 2.2 may not yet be required by law for organizations in your jurisdiction, getting a head start on understanding the 2.2 A and AA success criteria will help you be prepared to meet them more quickly, benefitting your audience with better access to your website and demonstrating your ongoing commitment to accessibility.
Below is our summary of the proposed WCAG 2.2 success criteria, plus a checklist for website owners who want to get prepared to meet them.
WCAG 2.1 vs. WCAG 2.2: What’s New?
The new WCAG 2.2 success criteria focus on accessibility for web users with low vision, cognitive and learning disabilities, and motor disabilities, including support for the use of touch-screen devices.
Related blog: WCAG for Mobile Apps
How WCAG 2.2 relates to prior WCAG versions
As with WCAG 1.0, 2.0, and 2.1, WCAG 2.2 builds on previous versions. So, while WCAG 2.1 contains 78 success criteria, WCAG 2.2 contains 86—77 from 2.1 (removing the one that is now considered obsolete) plus nine new success criteria.
Also, like previous versions, WCAG 2.2 breaks down testable success criteria into three levels: A, AA, and AAA. Meeting a conformance level includes meeting the criteria from the lower levels, so if your website and other digital properties conform to WCAG 2.2. AA, they conform to WCAG 2.2 A as well.
Level A success criteria create a minimum conformance level for accessibility. However, nearly all global accessibility laws, such as Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 in the US, EN 301 549 in Europe, and the AODA in Ontario, Canada, require Level AA conformance which requires Level A and AA be met. Level AAA provides for more advanced accessibility measures, but these are not required by current laws.
See also: WCAG for Mobile Apps: How High Should You Aim?
The vast majority of website owners should focus on Level A and AA—the globally accepted and recommended tier of accessibility. WCAG 2.2 AA conformance can help you meet current best practices for improved accessibility for people with disabilities as well as legal compliance.
WCAG 2.2 Checklist
Even if your organization is only required by law to meet WCAG 2.0 or 2.1 standards, it’s a good idea to eventually get your digital properties in conformance with 2.2 standards. Most of the new criteria are best addressed during the design of your digital property. The checklist below can help you get a better understanding of the WCAG 2.2 success criteria and how they can advance the accessibility of your website.
2.4.11 Focus Not Obscured – Minimum (Level AA): When a user interface component receives keyboard focus, at least a portion of it must remain visible and not be hidden by other content you provide.
2.4.12 Focus Not Obscured – Enhanced (Level AAA): When a user interface component receives keyboard focus, none of the focus indicator may be hidden by your content. This is the AAA level of success criterion 2.4.11 listed previously.
2.4.13 Focus Appearance (Level AAA): Focus indicators must have sufficient color contrast and must be of a sufficient size so as to be clearly visible.
2.5.7 Dragging Movements (Level AA): If any part of your website requires a dragging movement, provide an alternative means of dragging, such as tapping or clicking. For example, instead of dragging a map, the interface could offer buttons that move the map in a particular direction.
2.5.8 Target Size – Minimum (Level AA): All interactive targets should be at least 24×24 CSS pixels in size. This can include white space within the target. Additionally, there must be sufficient space between targets.
3.2.6 Consistent Help (Level A): If you make a help option available, make sure it’s available consistently, and in the same relative place. This will make it easier to locate while navigating your website.
3.3.7 Redundant Entry (Level A): In a process, such as registering or completing a form, information that the user has already entered must be made available to them. This helps users by not making them enter information more than once unless it’s absolutely necessary.
3.3.8 Accessible Authentication- Minimum (Level AA):. If your site requires a cognitive test, such as memorizing a username and password in order to log in, there needs to be a different way to authenticate that doesn’t require the ability to do that, or a help mechanism needs to be made available to assist with that. For example, a username and password field that allows for entry by a password manager provides assistance, as would allowing for the user to paste into the fields. At this level, a cognitive function test that requires the recognition of an object, like a stop sign, is allowed, as is a test that asks a user to identify a picture or image the user provided to the website.
3.3.9 Accessible Authentication – Enhanced (Level AAA): Users shouldn’t be forced to memorize information or necessarily spell correctly. Those and other tasks are considered cognitive tests. If an authentication process has a cognitive function test in a step, the site needs to provide an alternative that doesn’t or provide a help mechanism to complete the test. In addition–and this is a key difference between SC 3.3.8 and 3.3.9–authentication by using object recognition or user-provided content (e.g., a picture uploaded by the user) isn’t permitted at this level.
Remember, because this is version of WCAG is not yet final, there’s still a chance the WC3 will update the success criteria for clarity, or a criterion may be removed.
See also: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines – What is WCAG Compliance?
Note: WCAG conformance is not the same as legal compliance. But, in the current legal landscape, WCAG conformance is a recommended best practice for avoiding a web accessibility lawsuit, especially since WCAG is accepted as the benchmark for digital content toward meeting the effective communication requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Digital accessibility is a long game
The release (and impending finalization) of WCAG 2.2 serves as a reminder that achieving digital accessibility is an ongoing, dynamic process. Laws change in response to user needs, and WCAG success criteria evolve accordingly, requiring website owners to stay on top of their content. There’s no such thing as a one-and-done solution for web content accessibility.
The good news is that with the right support, WCAG 2.2 AA conformance is absolutely achievable. Learn more about how Level Access can help get your digital offerings in shape to reach a wider audience.
eSSENTIAL Accessibility has changed its name to Level Access! Read More