Updates to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
Scheduled to be finalized in September of 2022, WCAG 2.2 covers the latest updates from the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium. These updates go over the changes from WCAG 2.1 to WCAG 2.2, and give real-life examples of why they have been put in place.
The changes cover areas of: Accessible authentication; Dragging movement; Consistent help; Page Break Navigation; Focus appearance (minimum and enhanced); Visible control; Target size (minimum); and Redundant entry. Let’s dive into what that all means.
What is Accessible Authentication?
Accessible Authentication examples include the ability to copy and paste in the password entry area, make the imputed password visible to the person entering it, and allowing users’ selected devices to be authenticated at the device ID level. Using 2-factor authentication, users are allowed multiple options as the “second factor” such as receiving a text, sending a code to an authenticator app, answering a security question, or receiving an email.
Steps for multi-factor authentication are covered under Accessible Authentication, and Password Managers are being allowed to assist with authentication. In other words, your password manager (third party software that securely stores your passwords) will no longer be blocked by authenticators that use multi-factor or 2-step authentication. In turn, this creates ease of accessibility while maintaining security.
Why Dragging Movement Alternatives are Important
While this update only covered a minor change in the wording of the guideline, dragging movement itself is still worth mentioning because it is well known that not all users can accurately press and hold the pointer contact while also moving the mouse or pointer.
An alternative method must be provided so that users with limited mobility who use a pointer (mouse, pen, or touch contact) are able to use the functionality. An example of an alternative method: Directional buttons or numeric inputs are provided in addition to a drag-able element such as a list re-order or a zoomed-in map.
Consistent Help (formerly “Findable Help”)
This Consistent Help criterion covers the area of page navigation where website help can be found. This covers sites that offer help, but does not REQUIRE sites to offer help. If website help is available, it specifies that the page area to find help for completing tasks on a website should be found in the same location on every page.
A Bit on Page Break Navigation
Page break navigation allows all users to locate the same place in the content using page break locators rather than only allowing for scrolling or on-screen pagination elements. This is important to users with disabilities who may need to use adaptive devices or transform the information to more easily view (or hear, or touch) it. People who use a screen reader or adapt the display of the content will still be able to find their place, and find references to content based on page numbers of the original publication.
Appearances Matter – Focus Appearance
For sighted people with mobility impairments who use a keyboard or other keyboard-like device, it is extremely important to know the current point of focus, and ensure that the contrast and visibility make it easy to view for people with all levels of vision. This will make sure users are easily able to navigate with directional devices, and avoid excessive misclicks.
Visible Control ensures that user interface components (controls) can be found easily by people with vision loss, cognitive disabilities, and/or mobility impairments. Some designs for sites containing a lot of information may hide controls to remain visually ‘clean’, and require certain user interactions, such as mouseovers, to reveal those controls.
Hidden controls that are needed to complete tasks present difficulty in discovering the controls, and can leave some users with no obvious way to progress through the site. At minimum, controls should be available through a persistent visible entry point, such as a menu button that opens subitems, and located in a common area on each related page.
As a general practice, 44x44 CSS pixels is an easily accessible size for on-screen elements that are able to be linked, clicked, or otherwise interacted with. This refers especially to touch screen elements. There are exceptions with text links and help elements that are part of a sentence, but the general guideline to make this area as accessible as possible, is the 44x44 guideline.
Redundant Entry presents a guideline for website content to make a previously filled entry available, (with exceptions for between sessions or essential purposes such as asking for a password.)
An example of this would be: You enter all of your address information on a payment form before the payment screen, get to the payment screen and realize you made a typo on your zip code. When you come back to the page on which you were entering your address information, everything will still be filled in, rather than having to start all over again.
These are some of the key areas that updates have been made with the latest WACG draft. While most are minor, it is important to have a refresher with each update to make sure your website remains compliant. If it has been a while, give us a shout, and our web accessibility experts will happily help keep your site up to snuff! Get in touch today.