WCAG 2.2 is Here: What You Need to Know

October 10, 2020 BY JENA WALLACE
Updated: October 11, 2023

WCAG 2.0 & Beyond: Modernizing Web Accessibility [Free eBook]

After years of development, feedback, and several delays, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.2 is finally here.

WCAG 2.2 was released on October 5, 2023, and includes 9 new Success Criteria that provide broader support for users with cognitive disabilities, low vision, and limited fine motor skills. WCAG 2.2 also marks the removal of one Success Criteria: 4.1.1 Parsing.

In this blog, we’ll review the changes that WCAG 2.2 brings, learn how it differs from versions 2.0 and 2.1, and discuss the impact it will have on organizations going forward.

WCAG 2.2: The Changes

When WCAG 2.2 was officially published last week, it became the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) new recommendation as the web standard that organizations should aim to meet. The previous recommended standard was WCAG 2.1.

Like its predecessors, version 2.2 is backwards compatible with past versions, including 2.0 and 2.1. WCAG 2.2 uses the same format and approach to accessibility as the previous versions: success criteria with levels of conformance that fall under the POUR principles.

WCAG 2.2 includes 9 new success criteria and one removal. All other criteria in version 2.2 are the same as versions 2.0 and 2.1.

Changes to Guideline 2.4 Navigable

2.4.11 Focus Not Obscured (Minimum) (AA) involves keyboard focus. When a user interface component receives keyboard focus, the component should not be hidden due to author-created content.

2.4.12 Focus Not Obscured (Enhanced) (AAA) is an enhanced version of 2.4.11 and requires no part of the component is hidden by author-created content when a user interface component receives keyboard focus.

2.4.13 Focus Appearance (AAA) involves the use of a focus indicator of sufficient size and contrast. When a keyboard focus indicator is visible, an area of the focus indicator should meet the following:

  • At least as large as the area of a 2 CSS pixel thick perimeter of the unfocused component or sub-component
  • Has a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 between the same pixels in the focused and unfocused states

Changes to Guideline 2.5 Input Modalities

2.5.7 Dragging Movements (AA) provides a simple pointer alternative for any action that involves dragging.

2.5.8 Target Size (Minimum) (AA) ensures targets meet a minimum size or have sufficient spacing around them. The size of the target for pointer inputs should be at least 24 by 24 CSS pixels, with certain exceptions.

Changes to Guideline 3.2 Predictable

3.2.6 Consistent Help (A) involves putting help in the same place when it is on multiple pages. If a web page contains any of the following help mechanisms, and those mechanisms are repeated on multiple web pages within a set of web pages, they should occur in the same relative order to other page content, unless a change is initiated by the user:

  • Human contact details
  • Human contact mechanism
  • Self-help option
  • A fully automated contact mechanism

Changes to Guideline 3.3 Input Assistance

3.3.7 Redundant Entry (A) ensures websites avoid asking for the same information twice in the same session. Information previously entered by or provided to the user that is required to be entered again in the same process is either auto-populated or available for the user to select, with some exceptions for security, validity, and more.

3.3.8 Accessible Authentication (Minimum) (AA) requires that websites do not make users solve, recall, or transcribe something to log in. A cognitive function test is not required for any step in an authentication process unless that step provides at least one of the following:

  • Alternative: another authentication method that does not rely on a cognitive function test.
  • Mechanism: a mechanism is available to assist the user in completing the cognitive function test.
  • Object Recognition: the cognitive function test is to recognize objects.
  • Personal Content: the cognitive function test is to identify non-text content the user provided to the website.

3.3.9 Accessible Authentication (Enhanced) (AAA) builds on 3.3.8 and requires that websites do not make users recognize objects or user-supplied images and media to log in. A cognitive function test is not required for any step in an authentication process unless that step provides at least one of the following:

  • Alternative: another authentication method that does not rely on a cognitive function test.
  • Mechanism: a mechanism is available to assist the user in completing the cognitive function test.

Removal of 4.1.1 Parsing

W3C states that 4.1.1 Parsing, a success criteria previously part of WCAG 2.0 and 2.1, is now obsolete. This requirement was included in the past to ensure that web browsers and assistive technologies could correctly parse markup and content. 

In the time since 4.1.1 Parsing was first required, content using HTML or XML and browsers have improved how they handle parsing errors. Assistive technologies also now rely on browsers. W3C now states: “This Success Criterion should be considered as always satisfied for any content using HTML or XML.”

How WCAG is modernizing the web 🌟

WCAG 2.2: The New Web Accessibility Standard

With the release of WCAG 2.2 guidelines, W3C additionally updated their web accessibility standard recommendation from 2.1 to the latest version. This means that organizations wishing to conform to the latest WCAG version should begin efforts to incorporate the new success criteria into their web presence. But this also brings confusion to many organizations and websites with less accessibility maturity.

Here’s a few key questions to keep in mind when digging into WCAG 2.2 requirements:

What Does W3C’s Recommendation Mean?

W3C recommends conformance with WCAG 2.2 for optimal website accessibility. Most accessibility advocates and experts advise using the latest version of WCAG. 

Are Websites Required to Conform with WCAG 2.2?

WCAG 2.2 is not yet codified in any legislation, but will likely be in the future. WCAG is referenced in many countries’ accessibility laws, but the versions required vary. WCAG is also frequently referenced in ADA-based lawsuits as the baseline for web accessibility.

Because WCAG 2.2 was so recently released, it may take some time before it becomes a compliance requirement. Organizations should keep version 2.2 in mind and prepare an approach to conformance to this version when updating or auditing the accessibility of their websites.

Will There Be Future Versions of WCAG 2?

W3C says efforts are now focused on developing WCAG 3.0 standards. WCAG 2.2 is expected to be the last update to WCAG 2. Follow along with progress on the latest WCAG versions and news.

While the WCAG 2.2 update has been long awaited, it is still quite new. It’s reasonable to expect organizations and websites to take some time before implementing the new success criteria into their web presence. However, this valuable time presents an opportunity for organizations. 

WCAG 2.0 and Beyond: Modernizing Web Accessibility. Download the e-book.

This blog post is written for educational and general information purposes only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. This blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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