Ultimate Guide to WCAG 3.0 Web Accessibility

Ultimate Guide to WCAG 3.0 Web Accessibility

Published: December 5, 2022

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    As an entrepreneur, you will want everyone to visit your store and it to be accessible to even those with disabilities, like visitors in wheelchairs and to the blind or deaf. This is a noble and essential thought all store owners should have, including online store owners. Website owners, too, should ensure that any probable visitor can visit and access their store, including users with motor, visual or sensory problems. This includes ensuring everyone can access, understand and navigate through your website format, structure, navigation, visuals, and written content. This is easier said than done, which is why you have the web content accessibility guidelines WCAG 3.0 with a structured content guideline. The WCAG standard has been updated in the past decade with significant improvements through expert usability testing, and this is WCAG 3.0.

    This new conformance model not only improves web accessibility for disabled visitors but also provides information website owners and content creators can understand. And this is where we can help.

    adasitecompliance.com is the number one source for ADA website compliance. We can help ensure your website’s digital content meets the minimum conformance and maintains neuro, visual, audio, motor, and cognitive accessibility.

    Ultimate Guide to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

    There are four main principles to follow to create an accessible website, and they are:


    Your website is perceivable when visitors can perceive and understand the information and content on your website. Perceive means seeing with one’s eyes and letting users with visual problems use screen reader software to ‘read’ the content.


    Anyone can utilize any part of an operable website’s functionality, like page navigation, selecting links, and pausing video and audio.


    Websites should have easy-to-understand graphic design and written content. Avoid using jumbled and verbose language that is difficult to understand.


    Visitors should be able to easily interpret and consume all your website content, including users who depend on assistive devices like screen readers. This is possible through HTML code that assistive technologies can quickly parse without visual reference.

    How to Make Your Website Accessible

    You may want to know how to improve your web accessibility if you realize your website doesn’t meet the guidelines. The good news is that the WCAG provides specific guidelines for each of the four principles.

    Perceivable web accessibility guidelines

    Offer text alternatives like image alt text for all non-text items like images, videos, and audio content to ensure non-sighted individuals can understand them. Screen readers will thus know that a photo exists and cannot be ignored.

    Offer alternatives to consume time-based media to cater to users with limited hearing capabilities. Examples are using a full transcript of the recording for audio content and properly synced captions with audio for videos.

    Flexible structuring of content so that the intended information and structure aren’t lost even if a page styling is removed. It includes proper headings, ordered list elements, and bold or italic text that conveys information even if you strip-pack the page styling.

    Easy-to-see content with proper color contrast and adjustable background site audio.

    Operable web accessibility guidelines

    Full functionality through the keyboard as everyone cannot use a mouse.

    Providing enough time for visitors to engage with the website in case users disengage with the menu from the mouse.

    Apt navigation that helps users know where they are and can go through clear page titles, proper headings, and keyboard focus indicators.

    Understandable web accessibility guidelines

    Your content should be easily understood by many people, including those learning your native language. This means avoiding using high-tech or regional slang as much as possible.

    Always structure your pages and site logically by placing navigational links and pages in places where most visitors will expect them.

    Robust web accessibility guidelines

    As assistive instruments use a web page’s HTML file to translate content as required, web pages should have well-written HTML code. It means including start and end tags where necessary and avoiding the use of duplicate IDs across elements.

    When Will the WCAG 3.0 Be Ready?

    As of writing this article, the WCAG 3.0 is still a working draft and isn’t expected to be finalized until 2023. However, the AGWG (Accessibility Guidelines Working Group) is satisfied that the first public working draft is ready for general feedback.

    What Happens to WCAG 2 Series?

    The new WCAG 3.0 standards won’t differ much from the current WCAG 2 series standards. And while WCAG 3.0 isn’t backward compatible with WCAG 2 series, both have parallel standards.

    So if your content is WCAG 2.2 compliant, then there’s no need to test it against WCAG 3.0 standards unless necessary.

    However, new accessibility standards may be added to the WCAG 3.0 from the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) and User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG). This will lead to a new WCAG that will resemble a comprehensive set of standards replacing ATAG and UAAG.

    Why WCAG 3.0?

    Why Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 3.0?

    WCAG 3.0 is necessary as while AGWG has addressed most challenges in WCAG 2.1 and 2.2; the guidelines need an overhaul because of the following:

    Technological changes

    There have been many technological advances since WCAG 2.0 was finalized in 2008. WCAG aims to account for all these emerging technologies, especially those related to mobile and wearable devices and Internet of Things technologies.

    Increased disability groups

    With the changes in technology comes a broader need to accommodate content per users’ needs. For example, there are now so many more virtual and augmented reality options than in 2008.

    Poor readability

    The WCAG 2 series wasn’t easily understood. However, people from various professions and technical knowledge levels will be able to understand the plain language used in WCAG 3.0.

    Poor categorization

    The success criteria of the WCAG 2 series will now be referred to as Outcomes in WCAG 3.0. And all generic and non-technical summary statements about the standard will be called guidelines.

    Consolidating headings and sections into a single outcome and moving labels out is better than having labels all over the place, as was in WCAG 2.2.

    Better scoring system

    Websites had to meet AA standards and pass or fail success criteria for website compliance according to WCAG 2.2. However, scoring in WCAG 3.0 is based on means and functional needs or categories.

    So, for example, companies will learn how well their content accommodates users with motor challenges after tallying the final score to realize that accessibility standards aren’t dictated only for screen readers.

    Will WCAG 3.0 have Levels A, AA, and AAA?

    WCAG 3.0 - A - AA - AAA ???


    WCAG 3.0 will have different models to measure conformance to meet numerous criteria. Levels A, AA, and AAA help decide if a site meets legal guidelines. However, it doesn’t assess how accessible a website is on a sliding scale.

    WCAG 3.0 scoring, however, is different. And to better understand the scoring system, you first need to understand some terms.

    • 1. Atomic tests

      These are the accessibility tests you know now, like tests against the WCAG 2 Series success criteria done using automatic or manual testing.

    • 2. Holistic tests

      These real-world accessibility standards typically occur with assistive technology tools and are necessary to get higher final scores.

    • 3. Functional categories

      These categories are based on the disability types like visual, hearing, auditory, and motor.

    • 4. Rating

      The WCAG 3.0 awards grades from 0 to 4 for individual outcomes, functional categories, and final average grades.

    • 5. Conformance

      The final accessibility grade in the WCAG 3.0 is one of three conformance levels—Bronze, Silver, and Gold.

    • 6. Critical errors

      These are violations of the most basic accessibility requirements that can lead to a zero rating for the corresponding standard.

    Rating of Outcomes in WCAG 3.0

    Each Outcome will be rated from 0 to 4, where zero is a failing score, and outcomes with critical errors automatically receive a 0 rating.

    The possible ratings are:

    • Rating 0 or very poor where less than 60% of images have suitable text alternatives, or there’s a critical error
    • Rating 1 or Poor, where 60-69% of images have suitable options for text, but no critical errors
    • Rating 2 or Fair, where 70-79% of images have appropriate text alternatives and no vital errors
    • Rating 3 or Good, where 80-94% of the images have suitable options for text and no critical errors
    • Rating 4 or Excellent, where 95-100% of all images have appropriate text alternatives and no vital errors

    The average of ratings for all outcomes gives the final score, which determines conformance.

    Here is an example outcome for text alternatives:

    Guideline: Provide text alternatives for non-text content

    Outcome: Available text alternative for non-text content for user agents and assistive technologies. This way, users who cannot perceive or understand non-text content will be able to recognize it.

    Critical error: Text images without any appropriate text alternative for completing a process.

    However, how we rate a functional category isn’t clear yet, as AGWG hasn’t revealed any specific methods.

    The Three Levels of Conformance in WCAG 3.0

    WCAG 3.0 Levels - Bronze - Gold - Silver

    There are three conformance levels in WCAG 3.0 for digital accessibility: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. According to the WCAG 3.0 Working Draft:

    • Bronze

      Bronze is the minimum conformance model, and web pages and digital content not meeting its requirements do not conform with WCAG 3.0.

      A total of all scores in the functional categories meeting 3.5, with views and processes devoid of critical errors, gives a bronze conformance.

    • Silver

      In addition to all views satisfying bronze criteria, web owners must pass holistic tests in the future to conform with the Silver level.

    • Gold

      All views must satisfy silver criteria, and web owners must pass holistic testing in the future for a gold conformance level.

    What Do I Do While Waiting for WCAG 3.0?

    The most important thing to do while waiting for WCAG 3.0 to finalize is to get your content accessible. This means you need to:

    • Ensure your website is compliant with WCAG 2 series

      So if your content is compliant with WCAG 2.1, check if you need to make changes as per WCAG 2.2 guidelines. 3.0 compliance will be easier if you meet these criteria.

    • Hire people with disabilities

      Having people who use assistive technology on your team helps with assistive technology testing and to create accessible digital products and content.

    • Make accessibility a priority

      Promote a work culture where accessibility is a priority. Hiring developers and accessibility testers who take accessibility seriously, and developing friendly working relationships with them, also helps.

    • Plan for the switch

      WCAG 3.0 will have more explicit language, fairer scoring, and informative results, and thus much more advanced than its predecessors. So ensure your team is mentally well prepared and ready for the switch.

    ADA Site Compliance is the number one source for ADA website compliance. So if you need help with accessibility efforts, our team can help ensure your website conforms to other emerging technologies and accessibility issues.

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