WCAG 2.2: Website Accessibility Standards Get an Update – What Businesses Should Know

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were recently updated to version 2.2, adding new considerations for businesses seeking to make their websites accessible. As most business have an online presence, there are some critical requirements of WCAG 2.2 that all business owners should know.

The WCAG standards, published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), are often referenced by courts in the US when deciding whether a website complies with the ADA or Unruh Civil Rights Act. The new version WCAG 2.2 adds the following requirements:

  • 2.4.11/2.4.12 Focus Not Obscured: Ensures keyboard focus indicators (such as the blinking cursor or focus box around buttons and links) remain visible despite pop-ups or other content, with a stricter AAA version demanding complete unobscuring. See the example below:ADA-Website
  • 2.4.13 Focus Appearance: Defines technical standards for the keyboard focus indicator outline for low-vision users.
  • 2.5.7 Dragging Movements: Requires alternative ways to complete actions if they involve dragging, except for essential functionality.
  • 2.5.8 Target Size: Provides minimum size requirements for clickable elements like buttons and links.
  • 3.2.6 Consistent Help: Ensures help functionalities (e.g., company contact details or self-help option) remain in the same place across all pages for screen reader users.
  • 3.3.7 Redundant Entry: Auto-populates or allows re-selection of previously entered information to aid users with cognitive or memory disabilities.
  • 3.3.8/3.3.9 Accessible Authentication: Prohibits cognitive function tests during authentication, with the AAA version removing more exceptions.

Many in the business community are concerned that adding more criteria raises the difficulty for entities already striving to comply with earlier versions. Many disabled advocates maintain that the higher standards help users navigate websites with pop ups and hard-to-navigate organization.


Further WCAG Updates On the Way

The W3C is also developing the WCAG 3.0 standards (not yet released). According to W3C, “There are many differences between WCAG 2 and WCAG 3. Content that conforms to WCAG 2.2 Level A and AA Success Criteria is expected to meet most of the minimum conformance level of this new standard but, since WCAG 3 includes additional tests and different scoring mechanics, additional work will be needed to reach full conformance.”

The constant updates to WCAG highlight the need for the Department of Justice to exercise its own judgment in determining which criteria should be adopted as legal requirements for businesses and governments. Making and maintaining accessible websites requires significant resources, and entities shouldn’t face a constantly shifting target, especially from an organization lacking accountability to Congress or Executive branch agencies and legal authority to set ADA standards. The Department of Justice (DOJ) probably should have promulgated regulations specifying what makes a website accessible long ago.

What does this mean for businesses?

For now, in lieu of DOJ regulations, courts are left looking to the WCAG standards to help determine if a website is accessible. They are the de facto but unofficial website regulations for businesses under the ADA. So, businesses should take a closer look at their websites to ensure that they meet the WCAG 2.1 AA and perhaps even 2.2 AA standards. Each version also has a AAA requirement that is even stricter. However, this is considered by many to go above and beyond what is needed to make a website accessible.

Our team at JMBM can assist with a low cost initial review of your website for ADA compliance and even work with your web developer to make necessary changes.

For further reading, see:

DOJ Issues Guidance On Website Accessibility
April 29, 2022 | by Stuart Tubis

Stuart K. TubisStuart K. Tubis is a partner attorney at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP and a member of JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group. Stu counsels businesses and landlords on the full spectrum of ADA compliance issues and represents their interests in litigation and Department of Justice investigations. He has a background in technology, which helps in resolving the growing area of website accessibility issues. Contact Stuart K. Tubis at 415.984.9622 or SKT@jmbm.com.


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