Understanding the Differences Between WCAG 2.1 and WCAG 2.2

November 3, 2021

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the consensus standards for digital accessibility. Published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), WCAG includes principle-based success criteria that can help webmasters identify and remediate issues that affect people with disabilities. 

However, WCAG is not a static document — it’s regularly updated to reflect changes in technologies. It’s important to evaluate your website for conformance with the latest official version of WCAG (currently, 2.1) while paying attention to upcoming changes in official working drafts.

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the major changes in the WCAG 2.2 working draft and how they might affect your website’s accessibility conformance. For a more detailed explanation of the new success criteria, download WCAG 2.2 A/AA checklist

New versions of WCAG improve accommodations for people with disabilities

Each new version of WCAG attempts to improve on the previous version without making major changes to older standards. WCAG 2.1’s success criteria appear verbatim (word-for-word) in WCAG 2.2.

In other words, if your website conforms with WCAG 2.2, it also conforms with WCAG 2.1 (as well as WCAG 2.0). A website that conforms with Level AA under WCAG 2.0 may not conform under WCAG 2.1 — but they can maintain their conformance by following the new success criteria.

WCAG 2.2 introduces nine new success criteria:

  • 2.4.11 Focus Appearance (Minimum) (Level AA)
  • 2.4.12 Focus Appearance (Enhanced) (Level AAA)
  • 2.4.13 Page Break Navigation (Level A)
  • 2.5.7 Dragging Movements (Level AA)
  • 2.5.8 Target Size (Minimum) (Level AA)
  • 3.2.6 Consistent Help (Level A)
  • 3.2.7 Visible Controls (Level AA)
  • 3.3.7 Accessible Authentication (Level A)
  • 3.3.8 Redundant Entry (Level A)

These new success criteria improve users' experiences by ensuring access to help resources and accommodating a greater variety of assistive technologies. WCAG 2.2 may change prior to publication, but webmasters can safely assume that the new criteria will become official guidance.

Read: Latest Public Draft of WCAG 2.2 Features Nine New Success Criteria, Other Updates

WCAG working drafts can help webmasters plan for updates

At the time of writing, WCAG 2.2 was still a working draft. The document is scheduled for publication in late 2021, but WAI hasn’t provided an official publication date. Major changes to WCAG typically go through numerous rounds of revisions, and WCAG 2.2 may not be published until 2022.

Nevertheless, WCAG 2.2 will become a recognized standard for digital accessibility within the next few months. While wording may change before the official release, webmasters should review the working draft and make any relevant changes to ensure conformance with the new guidelines.

If your website currently conforms with WCAG 2.1 at any level, our experts can help you prepare for WCAG 2.2 — and if you’re not sure whether your website has accessibility issues, an accessibility audit can provide the information you need to get started.

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