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WCAG 2.2: Latest Proposed Recommendation & Web Accessibility Impact

Jul, 24 2023 | Content Services
Prakash Nagarajan

General Manager- Marketing

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Step into a world of endless digital possibilities, where web accessibility forms the bedrock of an all-inclusive online realm. Today’s fast-paced tech landscape demands that we embrace digital platforms and ensure seamless access and easy navigation for every individual, regardless of their abilities.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, popularly known by its acronym WCAG, have played a pivotal role in making the web more accessible to people with disabilities. These guidelines ensure that individuals can effectively perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with online content. Since their initial publication in May 1999, the world of digital accessibility has made significant strides.

As we near the expected release of WCAG 2.2 as the final W3C Recommendation by the end of August 2023, let’s take a quick review of the new guidelines that will be included.

WCAG 2.2 takes a progressive leap from version 2.1, gearing up to address emerging challenges posed by mobile devices, touch interfaces, and assistive technologies. Complying with WCAG 2.2 extends beyond mere legal requirements; it reflects a firm commitment to inclusivity, offering equal access to all users. Let’s embrace the digital future, ensuring it remains open to everyone.

Key Changes and Enhancements in WCAG 2.2

Drawing upon the foundation of WCAG 2.1 accessibility guidelines, the most recent candidate recommendations for WCAG 2.2 unveil nine innovative success criteria. These new guidelines prioritize the enrichment of user experiences and the promotion of inclusivity, enabling individuals with disabilities to seamlessly access digital content.

However, there’s one noteworthy alteration between WCAG 2.1 and WCAG 2.2—the exclusion of criterion 4.1.1 Parsing. The rationale behind this decision stems from the current functionality of modern browsers and assistive technology. Any functional challenges that may affect users with disabilities will now be addressed by other success criteria.

Revamped & Refreshed WCAG Standards for Better Accessibility

WCAG 2.2 extends the success criteria of WCAG 2.1, focusing on enhancing accessibility for three key groups: those with cognitive or learning disabilities, low eyesight, and disabilities on mobile devices.

2.4.11 Focus Not Obscured (Level AA) and 2.4.12 Focus Not Obscured (Enhanced) (Level AAA)

Both the new guidelines 2.4.11 and 2.4.12 focus on smooth user experience for interactive controls, like links or buttons, to retain a distinct and consistent focus state. This ensures their visibility, even when situated amidst other page elements. As a result, users can effortlessly discern the selected button or link without any obstructions from neighbouring elements.

Example: In a web form with several buttons for navigation, with these guidelines in place, the active button will have a distinct visual indication, such as a highlighted border or colour change.

2.4.13 Focus Appearance (Level AAA)

Ensuring an inclusive web experience, guideline 2.4.13 mandates visible focus indicators for interactive controls like buttons and links. These indicators must have contrasting colours from their surroundings, sufficiently large (at least double the area of a 1 CSS pixel thick perimeter), and not obscured, easily distinguishing them from non-focus states. By complying with this, users navigating without a mouse, relying on keyboard or alternative input methods, can effortlessly identify the active or selected control. This update reflects the commitment to Level AAA accessibility, empowering all users to interact seamlessly with websites.

Example: When a visually impaired user tabs through a webpage, with these guidelines in place, the active button will have a distinct visual indication, such as a highlighted border or colour change.

2.5.7 Dragging Movements (Level AA)

Enhancing user experience for individuals with limited motor ability is the primary goal of WCAG standard 2.5.7. It facilitates these users, aiding them in using path-based gestures like sliders and drag-and-drop interfaces. A single pointer mode of operation is introduced to address these challenges. It ensures that interfaces reliant on dragging and keyboard controls become accessible via clicks or tap and hold.

Example: A mobile app that allows users to reorder items by dragging them can incorporate a click-based alternative, enabling users with motor limitations can achieve the same functionality seamlessly.

2.5.8 Target Size (Minimum) (Level AA)

With the introduction of the new minimum target size guidelines, all clickable elements on webpages, like buttons and links, must now provide ample space for easy pressing by people with motor disabilities or touch screen users. The objective is to enable seamless interaction for everyone, including individuals with disabilities, ensuring effortless access to essential webpage components without unintentionally clicking on surrounding content.

Example: Imagine a person with limited motor control trying to navigate a website using a screen reader. With the new guidelines, the buttons and links will be big enough for the person to confidently interact with the critical elements on the page, like submitting a form or accessing important information, without any inconvenience.

3.2.6 Consistent Help (A)

Success Criteria 3.2.6 focuses on delivering a seamless user experience for individuals seeking support in locating help on the website. This becomes especially vital for users with diverse disabilities accessing digital platforms. Maintaining consistent and easily accessible help and support information on websites is paramount. This ensures users can swiftly find the assistance they need, eliminating the frustration of repeated searches.

Example: Imagine a visually impaired user navigating a website looking for help in understanding a website feature. With this criterion, they can quickly find the necessary support, enhancing their overall experience.

3.3.7 Redundant Entry (Level A)

WCAG standard 3.3.7 seeks to help users with short-term memory difficulties and other cognitive issues by reducing the need to recollect information they may have provided in a previous step or in an earlier stage of a process, such as a registration or form submission.

Example: During a registration process, provide a checkbox option for users to confirm that their billing address and mailing address are the same, eliminating the need to re-enter the information unnecessarily.

3.3.8 Accessible Authentication (Minimum) (Level AA) and 3.3.9 Accessible Authentication (Enhanced) (Level AAA)

WCAG standard 3.3.8 and 3.3.9 aims to provide users with cognitive challenges or other disabilities an accessible, and safe method to log in and access digital experiences, while avoiding re-entering login information that was previously entered or the need to authenticate by solving puzzles.

Example: Enable device authentication, where users can log in using their fingerprint or face recognition, ensuring a simple and secure method for access.

Embracing an Inclusive Digital Future

As we approach the much-anticipated release of WCAG 2.2, the world of web accessibility is set to take a significant stride towards inclusivity. With the nine new success criteria, including seamless focus states, visible focus indicators, and improved interactions for users with disabilities, WCAG 2.2 reflects a firm commitment to an all-inclusive digital landscape. Let’s embrace these changes and ensure equal access for all, making the web a welcoming space for everyone.

Integra is a trusted partner in content development, eLearning and accessibility services for many leading organizations worldwide since 1994. For over 12+ years Integra has been supporting various organizations with accessibility services. As a Benetech Global Certified Accessible™ (GCA) Vendor, Integra is committed to enabling organizations seeking to make their content accessible to everyone. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support you in accessibility compliance!

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