W3C Issues Updated Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1

June 5, 2018

W3C Issues Updated Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1

“The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today announced an updated Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, expanding existing coverage of mobile accessibility, and adds more provisions in the areas of low vision, and cognitive and learning disabilities.

W3C Issues Improved Accessibility Guidance for Websites and Applications

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 expands provisions for mobile, low vision, and cognitive and learning disabilities; international uptake in progress

https://www.w3.org/ — 05 June 2018 — Today W3C announces a significant update to W3C’s internationally-recognized Web Content Accessibility Guidelines which addresses accessibility of web content, websites and web applications on desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 expands upon guidance developed by W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) over the years, and is used widely around the world to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities.

“Developed through W3C’s consensus process and WAI’s strong multi-stakeholder engagement, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 helps Web designers and developers better meet the needs of users with disabilities and older users. The Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AG WG) addressed new requirements towards a goal of coordinated international uptake and standards harmonization.” — Jeff Jaffe, W3C CEO

Enables Website Developers to Reach a Broader Audience

WCAG 2.1 expands existing coverage of mobile accessibility, and adds more provisions in the areas of low vision, and cognitive and learning disabilities.

“WCAG 2.1 improves support for interactions using touch, including guidance for complex gestures and for avoiding unintended activation of a touch interface. For low vision, WCAG 2.1 extends contrast requirements to graphics and introduces new requirements for text and layout customization to support better visual perception of content. And for cognitive, language, and learning disabilities, WCAG 2.1 includes requirements to provide information about the specific purpose of input controls and to support timeouts due to inactivity; both to help users better understand web content and how to successfully interact with it.” — Andrew Kirkpatrick, Head of Accessibility, Adobe

As with WCAG 2.0, following these guidelines will make content more accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, and learning disabilities and cognitive limitations. Following these guidelines can also make websites more usable for all users.

Continues Evolution of W3C WAI’s Authoritative and Testable Accessibility Guidance

WCAG 2.1 updates WCAG 2.0 and expands W3C’s accessibility guidance, while maintaining W3C’s standard of implementable, technology neutral, objectively testable and universally applicable accessibility guidance. All new provisions have been tested in implementations across different types of websites and web content. The Working Group has taken care to maintain backwards compatibility with the internationally-recognized WCAG 2.0, in that websites that conform to WCAG 2.1 will also conform to WCAG 2.0, which remains a W3C Recommendation.

WCAG 2.0 was designed as a highly stable, technology-agnostic standard, and has been kept relevant through updates to informative supporting resources. As with WCAG 2.0, WCAG 2.1 is supported by an extensive library of implementation techniques and educational materials, including Understanding WCAG 2.1 and Techniques for WCAG 2.1, which have been redesigned and moved to a different format to allow WAI to continue to update these on an ongoing basis.

Wide Support for this Advance; Expected International Uptake

WCAG 2.1 has received wide support from industry, including accessibility-focused businesses, the disability community, research, education and government, as shown in the accompanying testimonials.

In addition, W3C is coordinating with national and international regions updating their standards and policies, including the current update of the European Norm (EN) 301 549, which has been undergoing its own independent review process.

“W3C encourages organizations and individuals to use WCAG 2.1 in web content and applications, and to consider WCAG 2.1 when updating or developing new policies, in order to better address the needs of more web and mobile users with disabilities. Additionally, we welcome continued engagement from the international community as we develop future accessibility guidelines.”  — Judy Brewer, WAI Director

WCAG 2.1 is part of W3C WAI’s stably evolving well regarded accessibility guidance, which also includes the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0, and the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) 2.0. These guidelines, as well as an extensive library of supporting materials for WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1 are available at www.w3.org/WAI/ .”