Accessibility, in general, is about making sure that everyone can partake in what the world has to offer (Think wheelchair ramps to enter a store). The web should be no different. And while a growing number of sites, services, and applications are doing their best to make their content accessible, we still have a long way to go.
The web is meant to work for all people, regardless of disabilities or impairments. When websites aren’t accessible, they cut off access to significant numbers of visitors. Additionally, operating a website with poor accessibility can potentially cause companies legal issues.
Fortunately, The World Wide Web Consortium developed a set of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG. From their beginnings over 20 years ago, these guidelines have gone through many transformations and improvements to ensure everyone can enjoy all aspects of the web. In the latter half of this year, the Consortium will be releasing its most comprehensive set of guidelines yet, WCAG 2.2.
New Guidelines More Inclusive
The new changes and additions that will be included in WCAG 2.2 cover a wide range of recommendations for making web content even more accessible for a wider range of people with disabilities.
This range includes accommodations for:
- blindness and low vision
- deafness and hearing loss
- limited movement, speech
- and combinations of these.
The new guidelines will also add some accommodation for learning disabilities and cognitive limitations.
WCAG 2.2 extends WCAG 2.1 by adding new success criteria, definitions to support them, and guidelines to help web developers and designers adhere to them. Because of this additive approach, any site that conforms to WCAG 2.2 will in turn also pass WCAG 2.1.
Two quick notes before going over the list of new changes.
- One, some of the exceptions to the new changes include the word ‘essential’. In accessibility terms ‘essential’ means that if removed, it would fundamentally change the information or functionality of the content. Furthermore, this information and functionality must not be achievable in any other way that would conform.
- Two, it is widely accepted that level AA should be the minimum criteria to meet when reviewing a website for accessibility. Okay, with that being said, let’s take a look at what’s new and how best to conform.
Updated Success Criteria for Meeting 2.2 Guidelines
The following Success Criteria are new in WCAG 2.2:
- Accessible Authentication: For each step in an authentication process that relies on a cognitive function test, at least one other authentication method is available that does not rely on a cognitive function test, or a mechanism is available to assist the user in completing the cognitive function test. (Level A)
- Dragging Movements: All functionality that uses a dragging movement for operation can be achieved by a single pointer without dragging, unless dragging is essential. (Level AA)
- Redundant Entry: Information previously entered by or provided to the user that is required to be entered again in the same process and in the same user-session is either auto-populated or available for the user to select. The exceptions for this are when re-entering the information is essential, the information is required to ensure the security of the content, or previously entered information is no longer valid (Level A)
- Target Size: Targets, or the region of the display that will accept a pointer action, such as the interactive area of a user interface component have an area of at least 24 by 24 CSS pixels. The exceptions for this is where the target offset, the distance measured from the farthest point of a target to the nearest point of the second target, is at least 24 CSS pixels to every adjacent target, the target is in a sentence or block of text, or a particular presentation of the target is essential to the information being conveyed. (Level AA)
- Consistent Help: If you make a help option available (human contact details, human contact mechanism, self-help option, a fully automated contact mechanism, etc), make sure it is available consistently, and in the same relative place, so it can be located easily. (Level AA)
- Focus Appearance (minimum): The contrasting area must have a color contrast ratio of 3:1 between the colors in the focused and unfocused states and either a full perimeter outline of 1px or an underline width of 2px. (Level AA)
- Focus Appearance (maximum): All of the above minimum requirements, but with a color contrast ratio of 4.5:1. (Level AAA)
Why Does Ignition72 Do This?
As previously stated, the web and all of its components should be available to everyone. We, in the web development sector, have a responsibility to provide this unfettered access. Following and staying current with the accessibility guidelines put forth by The World Wide Web Consortium, and including them from the very beginning stages of design and development will help us achieve this goal.
At Ignition72 we have embraced and employed Accessibility best practices since our founding in 2008, even when we were building sites in Flash. As a result, our team has extensive experience both reviewing and certifying sites as compliant, as well as building sites that specifically value Accessibility.
Get in touch today and we would be happy to perform a free review of your site and provide you with a roadmap to achieving complete accessibility with your online presence.