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WCAG 2.2 is on its way

Posted by Lucy Collins on Sep 23, 2022 11:01 AM

The new 2.2 Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG 2.2) is on its way!

WCAG 2.2 has been a working draft since 2021. It is likely to be the official recommended version in 2023. These changes aim to improve accessibility for people with low vision, cognitive and learning disabilities, resulting in a better overall experience and a more accessible site.

So, what does this mean?

Although WCAG 2.2 is likely to be the official recommended version, it is unclear when it will be incorporated into UK law. With v2.1 only being mandatory since 2018 its unlikely to come into force imminently. However, as standard practice going forward, Web Usability will start auditing against 2.2 to futureproof our client’s websites for this change.

What’s the difference between 2.1 and 2.2?

WCAG 2.2 is a development of previous iterations (2.0 and 2.1), adding 9 new success criteria: 2 at Level A, 4 at Level AA and 3 at Level AAA.

Let’s explore the new Level A and AA success criteria (SC) in more detail….

2.4.11 Focus Not Obscured (Minimum) (AA)

A clear focus indicator is of critical importance for sighted users navigating a website using keyboard so they know what element of the page is active. When a component receives focus it should remain at least partially visible to the user in order to comply with this SC. Let’s take your cookie policy as an example. If this sits at the bottom of your page and obscures the footer entirely when you tab to it, it will be considered a failure. If on the other hand, the page scrolls as you tab, revealing the footer above the cookie policy, it will be compliant.

2.5.7 Dragging Movement (AA)

This new SC is straightforward enough – an action that requires dragging, such as a drag and drop file upload or the sorting of a list, should also be achievable with a single click. In our examples, this would mean a single ‘upload file’ button should be available and up/down arrows are present to allow a list to be sorted.

2.5.8 Target Size (Minimum) (AA)

Tiny touchpoints on websites and apps can be a real frustration for people who struggle with fine motor control (or just have big fingers!). This can make it difficult for them to accurately select links, buttons or other interactive elements. SC 2.5.8 aims to mitigate this problem by defining the minimum size a “pointer input” needs to be: at least 24 bt 24 CSS pixels. This will increase the changes of users being able to successfully hit the correct button or link.

There are a few exceptions, including where the presentation is essential and if the user has the ability to control and increase the size of the target themselves.

3.2.6 Consistent Help (A)

Providing help on your website is good for all users, whether or not they have a disability, so this SC feels like a no brainer. If support is offered, either via a human, a chatbot or up to date FAQs, users need to be able to access this support quickly and easily on every page of a website. This means it should be consistently located so users always know where to look.

Common examples include a chat feature in the bottom right-hand corner of the page or a phone number that is consistently visible in the header.

3.3.7 Redundant Entry (A)

Making it easy for users to complete forms is key to a good user experience for everyone. One of the easiest ways to smooth this process and save users time and effort is to auto-fill fields when the information has already been provided. For example, auto populating the shipping address fields with the details you have already provided at the billing address stage saves re-entering this information and halves the chance of errors occurring.

3.3.8 Accessible Authentication (Minimum) (AA)

SC 3.3.8 is all about making online account logins as easy and accessible as possible. Remembering and entering a password is considered to be a “cognitive function test” and may be almost impossible for some users. More broadly, for those of us trying to maintain good data security, remembering hundreds of unique, difficult to guess passwords is a tall order that even the brainiest of us would struggle with. This means your forms should not limit people from using third party password managers (like LastPass) or copying and pasting passwords into fields. Alternatively, it should provide an alternative authentication method, such as receiving a one-time code or email login link.

Like v 2.0 and 2.1, WCAG 2.2, continues to push us in the right direction towards a more accessible online world. The focus this topic now receives is testament to the shift in attitude we have witnessed over the last couple of years. With the public sector leading the way, we hope more organisations will continue to add accessibility to their list of priorities and make their digital services open to all.

If you are not sure whether your website meets the WCAG 2.2 criteria, an accessibility audit is a great step in making sure your website is accessible.

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