WCAG 2.2: How Digital Accessibility Affects Your Business

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Most digital marketers know it’s beneficial to stay on top of accessibility standards when it comes to building and updating websites in 2022 – and tech companies strive to do the same when developing new technologies – but did you know that level of accessibility can affect the reputation and web traffic of absolutely any business or organization with digital content? In today’s world, that’s almost everyone.

So, WCAG – what is it, and how can you follow these standards on your digital properties?

What Is WCAG?

WCAG 2.2 is the second addendum to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, which is a set of guidelines designed to make websites and all digital technology accessible to people with disabilities. These guidelines are written by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Some of the existing guidelines of WCAG include:

  • offering transcripts and captions for audio content
  • using certain colors and contrast levels in design elements
  • using appropriate alt text for images and graphics (compatible with screen readers or Braille systems)

The guidelines are built to apply to technology that hasn’t been invented yet, and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) may eventually define W3C’s regulations as law for digital spaces. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), outlines that any organization with public use services must make their website readily accessible and usable for individuals with disabilities.

Businesses and organizations who want to establish themselves as ethical and inclusive, avoid discrimination lawsuits and reach the widest customer base should incorporate these guidelines in all the digital spaces where they connect with the public. This includes websites, electronic documents, apps, software and more.

What Do We Know About WCAG 2.2?

WCAG 2.2 will serve as a set of bridge rules as a more comprehensive version (3.0) is being developed. Luckily, W3C has published several drafts of 2.2 to invite public opinions and suggestions, so we have an idea of what the guidelines will encompass.

What Is the Difference Between WCAG 2.1 and 2.2?

The latest version, which W3C called a working draft, will be published in September 2022. So, what do we know? First, all criteria from 2.0 and 2.1 are included in 2.2. There will be at least nine brand-new success criteria.

These new criteria include the following changes, quoted directly from WCAG as of August 2022:

  1. Accessible authentication – Incorporates concepts of ‘steps’ to account for multi-factor authentication, and explicitly allows for ‘mechanisms’ like password managers.
  2. Dragging movement – A very minor wording update.
  3. Consistent help – Renamed from “Findable help” and follows the ‘consistent navigation’ criterion more closely.
  4. Page Break Navigation – Renamed, the criterion text is reduced to focus on content that already implements programmatic page break locators.
  5. Focus appearance (minimum) – Restructured the criterion text, whilst keeping the requirement essentially the same.
  6. Focus appearance (enhanced) – Aligned with the minimum version.
  7. Visible control – Renamed (from Hidden controls), added several exceptions.
  8. Target size (minimum) – Renamed (from Pointer target Spacing), reduced the core size requirement to 24px, and simplified the criterion text.
  9. Redundant entry – Removed the ‘steps in a process aspect, added a within-session scope and added several exceptions.

These additional criteria were designed to improve accessibility for several groups, including:

  • People with low vision or blindness and/or people who use speech technology
    • Proposed rules would extend color contrast and text spacing guidelines, disallow single-letter key shortcuts and change hover content behavior.
    • A “reflow” rule would basically ask that aspects of web design be responsive and user-friendly so that users can enlarge or manipulate content for accessibility.
    • A proposed rule would require accessible descriptions or names of CTAs to include alternate words such as go so users can easily identify verbal commands for clicking.
  • People with cognitive disabilities such as memory impairment, ADHD, dyslexia, and more; or mental illnesses such as PTSD
    • Proposed rules would eliminate timeouts that delete data (i.e., from forms), require a path for users to reduce interruptions, and limit actions that require memorization.
    • Another rule would disallow auto-play videos and content that plays after mouse interaction or require the option to turn features like this off.
  • People with motion sickness (See the rule description just above.)
  • People with dexterity disabilities.
    • Proposed rules would state a target size minimum, adjust pointer gesture guidelines (for one-finger clickers or assistive tech users) and require authors not to rely on screen orientation.
    • Another proposal is that tilting, shaking and other motion-activation movements (such as in gaming systems) should be achievable with interface components.

Why Is WCAG Important for Your Business to Comply With?

If your business is up to date on 2.1 compliance, incorporating 2.2 guidelines shouldn’t be too troublesome. The WCAG business case is clear. Shooting for the highest level of WCAG compliance (Level AA) will benefit your business in several ways, including:

  • It will establish your business or organization as one that cares about accessibility for all potential clients. You’ll gain the respect and support of the 19 percent of Americans who have disabilities – about 50 million people – and the people who respect and support them.
    • It will benefit all customers and leads whether they have disabilities or not, as most of the proposed guidelines extend user-friendliness for everyone. Improved user experience (UX) means more conversions. WCAG 2.2 is essentially a free, publicly available guide to achieving great UX.
    • You’ll future-proof your legal compliance. For years, it’s been up for debate whether the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title III, applies to digital spaces. Now that federal agency sites have adopted WCAG as their standard, it’s possible that the federal government may officially extend ADA compliance regulations to digital content. That decision is currently on hold, but that doesn’t prevent lawsuits and complaints. Being compliant now prepares you for anything.

How to Make Your Website WCAG Compliant

Read the latest working version of WCAG 2.2, and familiarize yourself with the proposed guidelines. Some parts of the addendum are supported widely, while others have sparked some debate. Use your discretion to begin applying the guidelines to your existing and new digital content.

Tools like the WAVE browser extension and WebAIM can be great resources to use alongside WCAG 2.2 as you apply accessibility standards.

Or … do it the easier way, with the support of digital accessibility experts.

Stay On Top of Digital Compliance with Oneupweb

The final published version of WCAG 2.2 is not likely to differ greatly from the most recent draft, so it’s not too early to begin examining your digital content and improving it. Plan to achieve the highest potential accessibility and set your business apart in 2022. Get web development and design services from Oneupweb to offer users an incredible experience no matter how they access your domain. Get in touch today or give us a call at 231-922-9977.

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