On October 5, 2023, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published version 2.2 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). It’s felt like a long time coming for the W3C to publish WCAG 2.2, but now that it’s official, what does this mean for us here at University of South Carolina?
Rest assured, there’s no need to scrap all your hard work that aims to meet the previous version, WCAG 2.1. WCAG 2.2 is backwards compatible, which means that applying WCAG 2.1 to your digital content gets you most of the way to the new standard. There are nine new testable success criteria in WCAG 2.2 that provide additional benefits for people with disabilities.
As of right now, our Digital Accessibility Policy at USC remains the same: for our digital content to meet WCAG 2.1 at Level A and AA. There is not an expectation for you to immediately adopt the latest version of WCAG. It will likely be toward the end of 2024 or the beginning of 2025 that our policy is revised to address conformance with WCAG 2.2.
Vendors going through our university’s procurement process should still report on their accessibility conformance by providing their Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) Version 2.4 Rev WCAG 2.1. VPAT Version 2.5 has yet to be released.
In the meantime, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with the changes that WCAG 2.2 brings so that you are prepared for the policy revision.
Enhancements to Cognitive Accessibility
Four out of the nine new success criteria in WCAG 2.2 are focused on improving accessibility for people with cognitive disabilities, such as ADHD, autism, dementia, or dyslexia.
Redundant Entry is one success criterion that helps users avoid making mistakes while inputting information. Apps can meet this criterion by automatically populating information that the user has already entered. People with cognitive disabilities may have trouble remembering what information they previously entered, so this criterion can help them successfully fill out forms that require multiple steps.
For example, just about any shipping and payment form that you fill out online requires you to enter both a shipping and a billing address, which are often the same address. It’s much easier and less time consuming for anybody to select a checkbox to “use the same address”, but this is especially true for people who have trouble with their memory.
Beyond the new and existing success criteria in WCAG, the Web Accessibility Initiative’s Cognitive Accessibility Guide can help you better understand how to provide accessible content for people with cognitive disabilities.
We’re Here to Help
It can feel overwhelming trying to learn all the success criteria in WCAG 2.1, let alone the new success criteria in WCAG 2.2, but our Digital Accessibility team at USC is here to help. Again, it will take about a year or so for us to adopt WCAG 2.2, so there’s plenty of time to learn about its changes from WCAG 2.1.
Take it one step at a time, and as always, you can contact our Digital Accessibility team with any questions.