In the rapidly evolving landscape of digital content, accessibility remains a crucial aspect that empowers individuals of all abilities to engage with online information seamlessly. As John Foliot, senior industry expert in digital accessibility, aptly puts it, “It’s fairly obvious to anyone who works in the technology sector that the only thing constant is change, and when it comes to the world of digital accessibility, change is as constant there as anywhere else.” The advent of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) has paved the way for ensuring that digital platforms are inclusive and user-friendly. As the anticipation builds for the upcoming release of WCAG 2.2, let’s delve into its significance and how it can shape the accessibility journey for digital content creators.
WCAG 2.2 Overview: Paving the Way for Inclusivity
In 2020, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) introduced the first glimpse of WCAG 2.2, the upcoming version of the WCAG. Expected to be officially released in 2023, WCAG 2.2 is set to introduce nine innovative success criteria. As John Foliot underscores, “With roots tracing all the way back to the earliest days of the internet, WCAG (the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) is one of the more important standards to emerge from the W3C—the global web standards organization.” While it’s important to note that these guidelines are not yet legally mandated in most jurisdictions, familiarizing yourself with the new A and AA success criteria can provide you with a competitive edge. Not only does this understanding expedite compliance efforts but it also enhances the accessibility of your content for a broader audience. Demonstrating your commitment to inclusivity is an ongoing endeavor that yields benefits both for your users and your organization.
Evolving with WCAG 2.2: Enriching Accessibility
One of the core objectives of WCAG 2.2 is to enhance accessibility for individuals with a range of disabilities. John Foliot emphasizes, “By late 2015 the Accessibility Guidelines started to revisit the specifications requirements and came back to the larger group with suggestions and a collection of proposed new Success Criteria.” These include low vision and cognitive and learning disabilities, as well as motor impairments, such as those affecting touch-screen interactions. By addressing these specific needs, WCAG 2.2 aims to create a digital environment that is more inclusive and user-centric.
Building on Foundations and Progression
WCAG 2.2 continues the tradition of building upon its predecessors. With minor adjustments to the previous iterations, nine new criteria have been introduced. This evolution ensures that the guidelines remain comprehensive and up-to-date with the ever-changing digital landscape.
Guidelines and Conformance: Navigating the Accessibility Terrain
Just like its predecessors, WCAG 2.2 adheres to three levels of accessibility: A, AA, and AAA. Level A signifies the minimum benchmark, while Level AA represents a more comprehensive standard. To ensure a robust implementation of accessibility best practices, it’s recommended to focus on meeting the criteria of both Level A and Level AA.
Navigating the Terrain of Success Criteria
As the release of WCAG 2.2 approaches, it’s crucial to prepare your digital platforms for the impending standards. Addressing potential accessibility issues early on, especially during the design phase, can help prevent legal consequences and ensure a smoother compliance process. To aid you in this journey, here’s a checklist of some of the new success criteria:
- 2.4.11 Focus Not Obscured: Minimum (Level AA)
- 2.4.12 Focus Not Obscured: Enhanced (Level AAA)
- 2.4.13 Focus Appearance (Level AAA)
- 2.5.7 Dragging Movements (Level AA)
- 2.5.8 Target Size: Minimum (Level AA)
- 3.2.6 Consistent Help (Level A)
- 3.3.7 Redundant Entry (Level A)
- 3.3.8 Accessible Authentication: Minimum (Level AA)
- 3.3.9 Accessible Authentication: Enhanced (Level AAA)
The Dynamic Nature of Digital Accessibility: A Continuous Endeavor
In today’s digital landscape, accessibility is not just a matter of choice; it’s a legal obligation for businesses. Clear-cut laws make accessibility a business’s legal duty, leaving no room for escape when someone files a discrimination lawsuit. This could involve individuals with disabilities or anyone who encounters challenges in using your website or application. Notably, sectors like e-commerce, food services, and health care were among the top three industries that faced lawsuits in 2022 due to accessibility issues.
The imminent release of WCAG 2.2 serves as a poignant reminder that digital accessibility is an ongoing process. Just as laws and guidelines evolve, so do the criteria for ensuring an inclusive digital experience. Striving to achieve WCAG 2.2 AA conformance not only ensures the accessibility of your digital offerings but also contributes to fostering a more equitable online environment.
The right support can make all the difference in this journey toward inclusivity. Explore how Digita11y can empower your digital endeavors to embrace accessibility and connect with a wider audience. Obtain an evaluation of your website’s compliance with the latest accessibility standard (WCAG 2.1) through Digita11y Accessibility Scanners and Solutions.
In a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected through digital means, web accessibility stands as a cornerstone of inclusivity. WCAG 2.2 embodies the commitment to creating a digital landscape that is accessible to all, ensuring that no one is left behind. As we eagerly await the release of WCAG 2.2, let’s embrace the opportunity to make our digital platforms more welcoming and enriching for every user, regardless of their abilities.