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New WCAG 2.2 Guidelines: What You Need To Know

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Posted on 12/07/2022 at 10:00 AM

If you haven’t already heard, WCAG 2.2 is scheduled to be completed and published in early 2023. Though these new WCAG guidelines aren’t out yet, the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AGWG) at the W3 approved the WCAG 2.2 Candidate Recommendation Snapshot for publication in September 2022. So what does this mean for website owners and website managers? 

WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. WCAG covers not only visual and hearing impairments, but also cognitive, learning, language, and other disabilities. Following WCAG guidelines helps ensure that your website is user-friendly for anyone and everyone. Understanding web accessibility guidelines is important not only for web designers and web developers but for anyone who is adding content to a website.

Around 8.1 million Americans have a vision impairment and 7.6 million have some form of hearing impairment. WCAG compliance ensures that these users are still able to fully access the information on your website on desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. If your website is not WCAG compliant, you’re losing potential users and putting yourself at risk for potential lawsuits and/or fines. Following WCAG standards not only helps these users but also makes your website more user-friendly for everyone. Learning more about the new version of WCAG is vital to being prepared when the WCAG update is fully published. 

How Are WCAG 2.2 Guidelines Categorized?

WCAG 2.2 guidelines are categorized into three different conformance levels.

Level A: the lowest and easiest level of WCAG compliance guidelines sets a base level of accessibility that does not necessarily ensure accessibility in many situations
Level AA: this level of WCAG compliance guidelines is the recommended level of conformance for digital content and thus is the most commonly obtained level of WCAG guideline compliance 
Level AAA: this level of WCAG compliance guidelines is the hardest to obtain, and is not possible to achieve full Level AAA compliance for some digital content types 

How Are WCAG 2.2 Guidelines Organized?

WCAG 2.2 guidelines are organized into four principles.

  1. Perceivable: Information and images must be able to be perceived by anyone despite any impairments they may have. 
  2. Operable: Users must be able to operate and navigate your website and its content 
  3. Understandable: Information and navigation on your interface must be clear and easy for the user to understand
  4. Robust: As content and technologies change over time, your content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted by assistive technologies
    • Assistive technologies include screen readers, text-to-speech software, speech recognition software, and more.

Under each of these four principles falls a number of specific guidelines. Under each of the guidelines, there are a number of success criteria. Check out our blog The Ultimate WCAG Compliance Guide to learn more and view examples that are easy for those who do not have advanced web design and development experience to incorporate.

WCAG 2.2 What’s New: What You Need To Know

The update from WCAG 2.0 to WCAG 2.1 was less of a replacement and more of an extension of guidelines. The current (at the time of this publication) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 W3C Editor’s Draft outlines nine new success criteria that were not present in WCAG 2.1.

Note: the examples discussed are not necessarily the only way to meet that particular WCAG success criteria, but are merely one example of how you can meet the success criteria. 

1) 2.4.11 Focus Appearance (Level AA)

  • Focus Area: Visibility of focus indicators 

  • Requirements: 

    • The focus indicator must enclose the user interface component

    • There must be a minimum of 3:1 contrast ratio between the same pixels in the focused and unfocused states

    • There must be a minimum of a 3:1 contrast ratio against adjacent non-focus-indicator colors

  • Example: The WC3 gives the following example of meeting this requirement 

WCAG compliance example

2) 2.4.12 Focus Not Obscured (Minimum) (Level AA)

  • Focus Area: Ensuring focused elements are not obscured by any other content 

  • Requirement: When a user interface component is in focus, it is not entirely hidden by author-created content 

  • Example: Draggable content and sticky headers are common examples where this issue can be seen

3) 2.4.13 Focus Not Obscured (Enhanced) (Level AAA)

  • Focus Area: Same focus as 2.4.12, but with stricter requirements 

  • Requirement: When a user interface component is in focus, it is not even partially hidden by author-created content 

  • Example: In the previous example, scroll padding can be used to ensure that a sticky header does not obscure a focused item 

4) 2.5.7 Dragging Movements (Level AA)

  • Focus Area: Ensuring dragging functionalities can be performed by users that cannot perform dragging movements due to dexterity limitations or assistive technology limitations 

  • Requirement: Pointer dragging movements (such as drag and drop and drag sorting) can also be performed by a single pointer without dragging movements 

  • Example: In addition to dragging and dropping elements, the same functionality can also be achieved by point-and-click (a user clicks on element A then releases and clicks on element B, resulting in the same outcome as dragging element A to element B)

5) 2.5.8 Target Size (Minimum) (Level AA)

  • Focus Area: Ensuring users can easily activate a target without accidentally activating an adjacent target 

  • New Requirement: The size of the target for user inputs is at least 24 by 24 CSS pixels

  • Example: The WC3 gives the following example of meeting this requirement

WCAG compliance example

6) 3.2.6 Consistent Help (Level A)

  • Focus Area: Making help elements on a website easy to find no matter what page a user is on

  • New Requirement: If help elements (such as contact information, a self-help option, etc.) occur multiple times throughout a website, they occur in the same relative spot from page to page 

  • Example: Having contact information at the same spot on every page 

7) 3.3.7 Accessible Authentication (Level AA)

  • Focus Area: Ensuring users with cognitive disabilities are still able to access and easily use the same content as every other user 

  • Requirement: Any cognitive test function (like solving a puzzle or remembering a password) is not required as a step in any authentication process unless that step provides one of the following 4 items:

    • An alternative method that does not require a cognitive test 

    • A help mechanism that assists the user in passing the cognitive test 

    • The cognitive test is object recognition 

    • The cognitive function test is to identify non-text personal content the user provided to the website (such as images, video, and audio)

  • Example: A website does not block copy/paste functionality for username and password entry so that a user can use a third-party password manager to store login credentials 

8) 3.3.8 Accessible Authentication (No Exceptions) (Level AAA)

  • Focus Area: Same focus as 3.3.7, but with stricter requirements 

  • Requirement: Any cognitive test function is not required as a step in any authentication process unless that step provides one of the following 2 items:

    • An alternative method that does not require a cognitive test 

    • A help mechanism that assists the user in passing the cognitive test 

  • Example: The previous example would still fulfill the success criteria 

9) 3.3.9 Redundant Entry (Level A)

  • Focus Area: Ensures that all users can easily complete multi-step processes 

  • Requirement: Any information that a user is required to enter that they have already previously entered in the same process is either:

    • Auto populated

    • Available for the user to select 

  • Example: A checkbox to use previously entered content is an option on a page (such as “use my billing address as my shipping address”), or the multi-step process allows users to copy and paste previously entered information into a new information field

Is Your Website Following Web Content Accessibility Guidelines?

With WCAG 2.2 standards not yet fully completed, understanding and maintaining accessibility compliance is an ongoing effort. To assist your team with locating and correcting compliance errors, Global Reach provides accessibility compliance web services ranging from full-service compliance reviews to hourly consultation, as well as compliance reviews and training.  Our website accessibility managed services offer reviews to meet your specific needs, whether it’s a one-time occurrence or recurring reviews.

Get a FREE WCAG compliance consultation Today!

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