A brief introduction to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
More commonly known as WCAG, it is developed through the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) process in cooperation with individuals and organisations around the world, with a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organisations, and governments internationally.
As the ways we use digital technology change and evolve, the standards we use to ensure our solutions remain inclusive and accessible must evolve with them. The latest version of these standards WCAG was updated to 2.2 on 5th October with some notable changes.
So the changes in a nutshell?
What has been removed
Firstly, one of the guidelines has been removed; the need for rigid formatting of our code has become less necessary as assistive technology has improved and as such the need for all elements to have complete start and end tags, elements nested in the specific manners, and the need for all IDs to be unique has become obsolete.
WCAG 2.1 - 4.1.1 Parsing (Obsolete and removed)
What has been added
- The first new addition is that we need to ensure that when an element has focus, it cannot be hidden behind other elements and must be clearly visible and highlighted. This ensures that keyboard users can easily navigate your interface.
WCAG 2.2 - 2.4.11 Focus not obscured (minimum) (AA)
WCAG 2.2 - 2.4.12 Focus not obscured (enhanced) (AAA)
WCAG 2.2 - 2.4.13 Focus appearance (AAA)
- If your interface uses a draggable elements there must be an alternative for those users who cannot use a mouse.
- We now have WCAG guidelines for how large touchable areas should be at 24px by 24px, any elements smaller than that should have this much space between it and another clickable area. This has been a feature of both Android and iOS guidelines for years but it has now become part of the accessibility guidelines.
WCAG 2.2 - 2.5.8 Target Size (minimum) (AA)
- If you provide help to the user, that help must be consistent across pages and screens. Keeping screens consistent ensures that they are predictable and intuitive.
WCAG 2.2 - 3.2.6 Consistent Help (A)
- Avoid making users enter the same details multiple times as some users with cognitive disabilities may struggle to remember previously entered information unless absolutely necessary for security.
WCAG 2.2 - 3.3.7 Redundant Entry (A)
- There should be a method to gain entry without a cognitive function test like picking all images with a motorbike, such as emailing the user a one-time link to sign in and supporting 2FA systems for example. Where there isn’t an alternative method to authenticate there should be a mechanism to assist the user.
WCAG 2.2 3.3.8 Accessible Authentication (minimum) (AA)
WCAG 2.2 - 3.3.9 Accessible Authentication (Enhanced) (AAA)
WCAG 2.2 - 2.5.7 Dragging Movements (AA)
This is a brief overview of the changes to ensure your solutions stay usable by everyone, for more information visit https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG22/#new-features-in-wcag-2-2