“When will the WCAG 2.2 update arrive and is there any delay?” is the perpetual question in website owners’ and developers’ minds. With the latest version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) forever ‘on its way,’ one does wonder when its official launch is.
Undoubtedly the W3C did publish an official Candidate Recommendation Snapshot for WCAG 2.2 on 6th September 2022.
The public comments for the May 2021 review draft were the basis for the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to integrate changes to WCAG 2.2.
However, the snapshot isn’t an official publication of WCAG 2.2 as a recommendation. While WCAG 2.2 should be published early in 2023, it is not final.
There may be changes, which makes one wonder why there is so much delay in WCAG 2.2 release.
The reason is relatively straightforward: it is all part of the process.
Read on to find out why the WCAG update takes so much time to release. Also, learn a few valuable tips which will be helpful while you prepare your website for the next update.
New digital accessibility requirements in WCAG 2.2
All WCAG versions are backward compatible with the previous versions. So it means that WCAG 2.2 will have WCAG 2.1 and 2.0 requirements and additional new success criteria.
There will also be some minor changes to the language.
However, as there is no deprecation in the new versions over the earlier versions, the new WCAG version wordings must be precise. Any revision the authors have in mind will be introduced in the W3C draft process.
There have been numerous changes to the WCAG 2.2 compared to the earlier versions. Some crucial changes mentioned in the Candidate Recommendation include:
- The addition of two success criteria, ‘Focus Not Obscured (Minimum) (AA)’ and ‘Focus Not Obscured (Enhanced) (AAA).’
According to these criteria, no content should obscure focused elements. This inclusion will prove helpful to users who rely on the keyboard for navigation. It will also be beneficial for users with accessibility issues and who rely on assistive technologies.
- The updating of ‘Focus Appearance (AA)’ wordings and removal of ‘Focus Appearance (Enhanced) (AAA). Accordingly, WCAG 2.2 requires that keyboard focus indicators must meet new standards.
- The addition of ‘Accessible Authentication (No Exception) (AAA) with Accessible Authentication (AA).
- Removing two success criteria, ‘Visible Controls’ and ‘Page Break Navigation’, and adding them to supplemental guidance.
While WCAG 2.2 won’t include these success criteria, it doesn’t imply they aren’t necessary, and it’s just that the W3C authors didn’t agree upon some specific requirements for the standards.
Why web admins should wait for official recommendations to finalize web accessibility
The W3C will then have to remove or recategorize any requirement that seems too vague to apply to different digital content types.
While you must recognize new WCAG versions, the guidelines will undergo further change before its official public release.
Should webmasters follow WCAG 2.2 even before its release?
According to W3C, web admins should test their web pages as per the latest WCAG version, in this case, WCAG 2.1. So don’t focus on the new WCAG 2.2 criteria if your website doesn’t conform to WCAG 2.1’s level A and AA success criteria.
Instead, focus on resolving these issues before testing against WCAG 2.2. You will, however, be ready for WCAG 2.2 if your website conforms to WCAG 2.1.
Improve website accessibility requirements with a user-focused approach
Adopting a user-focused approach is the best way to improve accessibility. Start by reading WCAG 2.2’s nine new success criteria and work towards ensuring web accessibility per these requirements.
While focusing on accessibility compliance, the improvements should prove most beneficial to people with disabilities.
For example, according to the WCAG 2.2 3.2.6 success criterion ‘Findable Help’, users shouldn’t have a problem finding help when necessary. It’s because some users with disabilities may need help browsing your website.
Including human contact details on all the web pages will help improve their user experience. On the contrary, directing the users to a toll-free number will not help them but instead creates new accessibility issues.
Adopting a user-focused approach lets you enjoy digital accessibility while preparing you for the official release of WCAG 2.2 when it eventually arrives.
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The ADA prohibits any private businesses that provide goods or services to the public, referred to as “public accommodations,” from discriminating against those with disabilities. Federal courts have ruled that the ADA includes websites in the definition of public accommodation. As such, websites must offer auxiliary aids and services to low-vision, hearing-impaired, and physically disabled persons, in the same way a business facility must offer wheelchair ramps, braille signage, and sign language interpreters, among other forms of assistance.
All websites must be properly coded for use by electronic screen readers that read aloud to sight-impaired users the visual elements of a webpage. Additionally, all live and pre-recorded audio content must have synchronous captioning for hearing-impaired users.
Websites must accommodate hundreds of keyboard combinations, such as Ctrl + P to print, that people with disabilities depend on to navigate the Internet.
Litigation continues to increase substantially. All business and governmental entities are potential targets for lawsuits and demand letters. Recent actions by the Department of Justice targeting businesses with inaccessible websites will likely create a dramatic increase of litigation risk.
Big box retailer Target Corp. was ordered to pay $6 million – plus $3.7 million more in legal costs – to settle a landmark class action suit brought by the National Federation of the Blind. Other recent defendants in these cases have included McDonald’s, Carnival Cruise Lines, Netflix, Harvard University, Foot Locker, and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Along with these large companies, thousands of small businesses have been subject to ADA website litigation.
Defendants in ADA lawsuits typically pay plaintiff's legal fees, their own legal fees for defending the litigation, and potential additional costs. In all, the average cost can range from tens of thousands of dollars, to above six figures. There are also high intangible costs, such as added stress, time and human capital, as well as reputational damage. Furthermore, if the remediation is incomplete, copycat suits and serial filers can follow, meaning double or triple the outlay. It's vital to implement a long-term strategy for ensuring your website is accessible and legally compliant.