All About WCAG Accessibility And What’s Next

Join Continual Engine And IAAP-Certified Web Accessibility Specialist, Sarah Stricker, MA, For A High-Level Look At The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the international standard for digital accessibility. In early 2023, WCAG is scheduled to release the latest update of the guidelines, version 2.2.

As an accessibility expert, it is crucial to stay up-to-date on the latest guidelines and best practices for creating accessible digital content. To do so, it is important to understand the background of WCAG, the architecture of the WCAG guidelines, and the future of WCAG. Analyzing accessibility requires an understanding of WCAG compliance testing, while also being aware of the shortcomings of WCAG testable criteria.

The WCAG are published by a working group within the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). The group includes representatives from corporations, universities, and invited experts, who work with a mission to create a web that is open and accessible. The first edition of WCAG (1.0) was released in 1999. WCAG 2.0 launched in 2008, with an update (2.1) in 2018. 2.2 is scheduled to be released soon, and plans are in place to introduce a major update, WCAG 3.0, in a few years.

The WCAG are organized under four central accessibility principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Each principle contains guidelines, and each guideline includes testable success criteria to meet the guideline. The testable success criteria provide an objective standard to measure compliance. 

Digital content providers will often provide documentation to the public describing their compliance with a VPAT. And many governments reference the WCAG guidelines in laws that ensure rights for disabled people.

It is important to recognize the shortcomings of WCAG. The criteria are testable, but some aspects of accessibility will be subjective. Testable criteria may not apply to all use cases, so it is crucial to keep the principles of WCAG in mind when designing for accessibility as well as testing for the criteria. The WCAG authors acknowledge that more criteria are needed to address evolving technology and to account for the needs of a broader audience, such as low-vision users and users with cognitive disabilities.

Upcoming updates to WCAG, including WCAG 2.2 and WCAG 3, seek to address these gaps. In short, WCAG continues to provide an excellent standard for accessibility compliance. Yet, it is crucial to understand high-level accessibility principles while testing for the WCAG criteria.

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Digital content providers will often provide documentation to the public describing their compliance with a VPAT. And many governments reference the WCAG guidelines in laws that ensure rights for disabled people.

It is important to recognize the shortcomings of WCAG. The criteria are testable, but some aspects of accessibility will be subjective. Testable criteria may not apply to all use cases, so it is crucial to keep the principles of WCAG in mind when designing for accessibility as well as testing for the criteria. The WCAG authors acknowledge that more criteria are needed to address evolving technology and to account for the needs of a broader audience, such as low-vision users and users with cognitive disabilities.

Upcoming updates to WCAG, including WCAG 2.2 and WCAG 3, seek to address these gaps. In short, WCAG continues to provide an excellent standard for accessibility compliance. Yet, it is crucial to understand high-level accessibility principles while testing for the WCAG criteria.

Speaker

Sarah Stricker

MA, Instructional Technologist,
ansrsource

Sarah Stricker is an Instructional Technologist with a focus on making educational materials accessible to all students. In her current role at ansrsource, Sarah works with higher education partners to develop courses and course materials. Sarah is also a certified International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) Web Accessibility Specialist (WAS) with several years of experience in the world of Higher Education, including work at UC Berkeley and Colorado State University.

Host

Vijayshree (VJ) Vethantham

VP, Growth and Strategy,
Continual Engine

Vijayshree (VJ) Vethantham specializes in higher education and accessibility partnerships with a wealth of experience in leading business development, managing key clients, and strategic account management. She has worked with global organizations to help them from proof of concept to business engagement excellence through meaningful partnerships and building scalable solutions.

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