The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a collection of individuals and organizations around the world with a dedication to providing a single standard for web accessibility.
On February 27, 2020, the W3C released its first public working draft of WCAG 2.2.
So what does this mean for websites and mobile applications? WCAG 2.2 is an extension of WCAG 2.1., so not much should change. The basic structure of WCAG 2.2 is the same, but the W3C has added new features to help make the user experience more inclusive and user-friendly. It’s important to note that the laws still reference WCAG 2.0.
Why WCAG is Continually Updated
WCAG 2.2 was initiated with the goal to continue the work of WCAG 2.1 by improving accessibility guidance for users with cognitive or learning disabilities, users with low vision, and users with disabilities on mobile devices.
A big part of this update includes guidelines for mobile device accessibility. Due to the increase in mobile users, this update was essential to ensure that websites are created to optimize mobile phone usability.
According to Statista, mobile accounts for approximately half of web traffic worldwide. In the fourth quarter of 2019, about 52.6% of internet traffic was generated by mobile devices. The W3C continues to improve standards in order for people with disabilities to have the same user experience as able-bodied users when using mobile devices.
WCAG Benefits All Users
Even though the WCAG guidelines were designed to make web content accessible to users with disabilities, it actually benefits all users.
Similarly to a sidewalk curb or a pedestrian signal, when we make things accessible to people with disabilities, we make it accessible to everyone. That’s because regardless of ability, users have different preferences when consuming web content. For example, a hearing person may visit a website, but choose to watch a video with captions and without sound because of a sleeping baby nearby. Although captions are an accommodation for deaf and hard of hearing viewers, they still benefit all users.
WCAG provides a comprehensive guideline for students, policymakers, web developers, content creators, and more, on how to make web content accessible to all users – including people with disabilities.
Utilizing WCAG 2.2 Guidelines for Web Content
The W3C has added a new success criteria, definitions to support them, and guidelines to organize the additions.
It’s recommended to use the most updated version of WCAG when developing or updating content or web accessibility policies. WCAG 2.2 is backward compliant. This means that it extends WCAC 2.0 and 2.1. Therefore, if you conform to WCAG 2.2, you’ll be conforming to 2.0 and 2.1 as well.
WCAG 2.2. guidelines build on WCAG 2.1, aside from one new addition.
Success Criterion 2.4.11 Focus Visible (Enhanced)
When a User Interface Component displays a visible keyboard focus, all of the following are true:
- Minimum area: the focus indication area is greater than or equal to the longest side of the bounding rectangle of the focused control, times 2 CSS pixels.
- Focus contract: color changes used to indicate focus have at least a 3:1 contrast ratio with the colors changed from the unfocused control.
- Contrast or thickness: the focus indication area has a 3:1 contrast ratio against all adjacent colors for the minimum area or greater, or has a thickness of at least 2 CSS pixels.
Note: a focus indicator that is larger than the minimum area may have parts that do not meet the 3:1 contrast ratio, as long as an area equal to the minimum does meet the contrast ratio.
This criterion is Level AA compliant.