October 21 2020

WCAG 2.2 Getting Closer to Release

wcag 2.2 draftThe Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are going to be updated to version 2.2 to add additional clarity to previous recommendations. However, the June 2020 final draft was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since our last article in early March on the topic, there have been several additional success criterion added to the draft which are important to review so that we can better understand where website conformance is headed and how businesses can prepare. A reminder that anything that is part of the version 2.2 draft is meant to add to the Version 2.1 Criteria; nothing in previous versions will be removed or changed.

Success Criterion 2.4.11: Focus Appearance (Minimum) – Level AA

This Criterion was in the February 2020 draft but the Working Group has added more clarity to what was ambiguous. The aim of this Criterion is to make it easier for the sighted keyboard user to be able to see the active element on a web page. In short, every element that can receive focus must have a plainly visible box surrounding it.  At ZAG, we advocate for a 2 CSS pixel border that has the same color contrast as the element being highlighted but WCAG is requiring only 1 CSS pixel. It is specified that the border be solid, not dotted.

Success Criterion 2.4.12: Focus Appearance (Enhanced) – Level AAA

This is the “Enhanced” version of the focus outline Criterion described above and will not likely affect most website owners. The Level AAA requirement matches the existing best practice of using a 2 CSS pixel outline but in this Criterion, a 4.5:1 color ratio must be achieved. For any site that ZAG designs and builds, if the color contrast ratio of the element were 4.5:1, the outline would be as well, and this Criterion would automatically be met.

Success Criterion 2.4.13: Fixed Reference Points – Level A

This new Criterion does not apply to websites in general, but rather to online publications. But, if a newsletter is published as multiple pages in a CMS or as a PDF, the end user must be provided with “pagebreak locators” in a predictable, consistent location so that the reader can always figure out what page they are on and be able to move to a different page.

Success Criterion 2.5.7: Dragging – Level AA

This Criterion is also not expected to impact websites. In short, dragging an element can require impossible dexterity for some users. If this functionality is a part of a site, one must be able to accomplish the same end-result without dragging.

Note that in some sites, a user is asked to drag a file into a window to upload it, but this functionality would not cause a violation because one can also click an “upload” button to accomplish the same. Instead, this refers to sites where perhaps an element is dragged from one area of a page to another, or some other type of similar usage .

Success Criterion 2.5.8: Pointer Target Spacing – Level AA

The Working Group still seems to be hashing out the specifics of this Criterion, but what is clear is that they want to increase the size of targets that can be selected with a mouse or fingertip. In the draft, it is mandated that whenever there is a target, that there be no other target within 44 CSS pixels. There are exceptions that would most commonly be invoked when the target is a word(s) in a block of text or if the user enlarges the page.

Success Criterion 3.2.6: Findable Help – Level A

Every page must provide access to help in a consistent location. In ZAG’s opinion, this is simply codifying a usability best practice. Access to “contact” or “help” is something that digital strategists and designers should prioritize in the global navigation or other global site elements since most sites have a customer service goal in addition to other goals.

Success Criterion 3.2.7: Hidden Controls – Level AA

Sometimes, to show that a process is not yet complete or to focus one’s attention on only one part of a page/process, a Submit (or similar) button will be hidden until it can be used. With the WCAG 2.2 release, this will be forbidden if this Criterion remains when the draft is finalized. Keeping controls visible at all times is important so that expectations for completing the process are clear and stable.

Success Criterion 3.3.7: Accessible Authentication – Level A

By tackling accessible authentication as a Level A Criterion, the Working Group is looking to make a fundamental impact on the requirements for securely logging into a web service. Authentication on the Web is difficult for any user and it is especially difficult if one has a cognitive disability. It is expected that any user can recall and accurately input their name, phone number, and email address but it cannot be assumed that any other parameter can be successfully used.

Memorizing, transcribing codes or passwords, spelling correctly, performing calculations, and solving puzzles is too difficult or simply impossible for some users. Therefore, one must have the option to be able to log into a site using only their name, email address, or phone number. It seems that it will be necessary to offer an option to use a password reset function where a link is sent to an email address and clicking the link allows access.

Success Criterion 3.3.8: Redundant entry – Level A

Entering data into a website when one has a disability can be difficult no matter how well the site is made. If data must be re-entered, the user must be provided with an option to auto-populate the repeated data or the data must be available to be selected. The Working Group states that security verification, such as repeating a password, is an exception. This is not at odds with 3.3.7 as long the user would have an option to authenticate without using a password.

Since 2020 is anything but predicable, we aren’t certain when version 2.2 will be formally rolled out. However, we will continue to be your source of website ADA conformance information and are happy to talk about your specific website ADA conformance needs. Get in touch with us.

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posted by
Dan Seagull
Dan Seagull
Sr. QA & Certified Accessibility Analyst

ZAG Interactive is a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT, offering website design, development, marketing and digital strategy to clients nationwide. See current job openings.
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Website ADA Compliance: Understanding WCAG 2.2