The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the international standards for accessibility, and in late 2023, a new version of WCAG is expected to become an official recommendation of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
WCAG 2.2 introduces nine new success criteria. While those criteria may change prior to the document’s official release, you can get a head start on WCAG 2.2 by reviewing the latest Working Draft.
Before worrying about WCAG 2.2, make sure you follow WCAG 2.1
You should only prioritize WCAG 2.2 conformance if you’re confident that your content follows the current standards, WCAG 2.1. Each version of WCAG is backwards-compatible, which means that every WCAG 2.1 success criterion will also appear in WCAG 2.2.
In other words, if you follow all WCAG 2.1 Level AA success criteria, you’re in great shape — and if your content doesn’t follow WCAG 2.1, you’ll need to make some changes.
The Bureau of Internet Accessibility offers resources for ensuring conformance with the latest version of the guidelines, including our free automated website accessibility analysis and our detailed Compliance Roadmap.
With that said, here are a few ways to check that your website or mobile app will follow the new standards.
1. Make sure your pagination is accessible.
WCAG 2.2 Success Criterion (SC) 2.4.13, “Fixed Reference Points,” requires content with page break locators to provide a way to navigate to each locator. Most web pages that use pagination will conform with this criterion — but some types of web documents may not.
If your website contains electronic publication (EPUB) documents, make sure that you can navigate by page numbers. The page numbers in the navigation should match the print versions of the publication.
Additionally, make sure that your documents have a logical structure that can be interpreted by screen readers and other assistive technologies. This is especially important with Adobe PDFs, Microsoft Word documents, and any other web-delivered documents that are essential for your users.
2. Check your pointer targets.
When clickable areas (or pointer targets) are close together, some users may have trouble activating the right target. WCAG 2.2 SC 2.5.8, “Pointer Target Spacing,” addresses this issue by requiring each target to have a width and height of at least 44 CSS pixels.
Providing spacing between the targets can make your website more navigable, and the 44-by-44 pixel threshold is easily achievable for most types of content. One important note: WCAG makes exceptions for inline targets such as text links.
3. Make sure you provide ways for people to find help.
WCAG 2.2 SC 3.2.6, “Consistent Help,” is a new Level A criterion that requires web pages to provide ways for users to find help when necessary.
You can offer help resources in numerous ways:
- A phone number, support email address, or other human contact details
- Tutorials and other written self-help options
- A fully automated online chat resource
If your website has a “Contact Us" page, you probably meet WCAG 2.2’s requirements. However, make sure users can find your contact details easily from any page on your website.
4. Review your authentication methods.
Many people with disabilities encounter barriers when logging into websites. Of course, your website needs to authenticate users, but you can avoid relying solely on cognitive function tests, which require users to memorize complex passwords.
WCAG 2.2 SC 3.3.7, “Accessible Authentication,” doesn’t prevent websites from requiring passwords. However, the new criterion will require sites to offer “a mechanism" to assist people who cannot remember or enter their passwords easily.
You can pass this guideline by using proper markup in your forms, which will allow people to use password managers to fill in the field automatically. If your forms have appropriate accessible names — and your website allows copy-and-paste functionality — these tools will work properly.
Related: How To Make Your Website's Authentication Process Accessible
5. Make sure your forms avoid redundant entry.
WCAG 2.2 SC 3.3.8, “Redundant Entry,” requires websites that use multi-step processes to auto-populate fields or allow users to select information that they’ve entered previously.
For example, let’s say you operate an e-store that asks customers for their physical addresses. If you need to ask for that information again later in the checkout process, the user’s address should auto-populate into the form — or you should provide another mechanism that allows them to avoid entering the information twice.
Like most accessibility improvements, this has benefits for all users. Avoiding redundant entry is simply good web design, and most online shopping platforms enable this feature by default.
In WCAG 2.2, “Redundant Entry" is a Level A criterion, which means that you need to offer this feature to maintain a basic level of accessibility.
Ensuring Conformance with WCAG 2.2 Level AA
It’s important to remember that WCAG 2.2 doesn’t completely overhaul digital accessibility standards. While the new guidelines address crucial barriers, they build on the framework of earlier WCAG versions.
By following the new success criteria, you can provide a better experience for a wider range of people. The first step is to test your content against the current WCAG 2.1 guidelines, which will ensure a reasonable level of accessibility for most users.
For more guidance on WCAG 2.2 conformance, send us a message to connect with a subject matter expert.