March 15, 2024

Navigating from WCAG 2.1 to WCAG 2.2

Highlighting the benefits of moving from WCAG 2.1 to WCAG 2.2 to be more accessible and user-friendly.

An orange - purple gradient background with 7 white text bubbles on it with an accessibility symbol inside each of them.

Being committed to building widely accessible digital experiences is a top priority for us at Ember.

We pride ourselves on being dedicated to staying updated with the latest standards in web accessibility.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) serve as the baseline for our accessibility efforts.

With the transition recently from WCAG 2.1 to WCAG 2.2, we found it to be really important to understand the differences between these two versions.

Ember’s Digital Product Designer, Alan Graham, said,

From a design perspective, while complete creative freedom can be seen as 'the ideal', it can often be daunting. I personally feel some of my best work is often done under specific conditions, self-imposed or otherwise. Using accessible design practices are just another set of rules that help streamline the design process and remove part of the decision-making burden that can often require lengthy consideration.

Moving from WCAG 2.1 to 2.2

From June 2018, WCAG 2.1 was a significant breakthrough that broadened details for making web content more accessible, especially for users who have low vision and cognitive limitations.

Now, WCAG 2.2 addresses further important accessibility challenges identified since WCAG 2.1's release, with a larger focus on enhancing web usability for an extended range of disabilities.

What are the key enhancements in WCAG 2.2?

1. Updates to the success criteria

WCAG 2.2 marks a significant advancement in web accessibility, with new critical success criteria aimed at bridging gaps that were previously unaddressed. With these enhancements, we can further focus on making the web more navigable and understandable for users with a wide range of disabilities.

Success criteria additions included;

  • Accessible authentication
  • Dragging movements

These help provide ease for users with cognitive and motor disabilities, offering extra support to overcome the security and interaction that could have otherwise turned into barriers for them.

With the introduction of ‘redundant entry’, this minimises repetitive input tasks, directly benefiting users who find these kind of tasks challenging.

The ‘focus appearance’ criteria enhances visibility for keyboard navigation, aiding those with visual and cognitive limitations.

Additionally, ‘hidden controls’ and ‘consistent help’ criteria aim to make web interfaces more intuitive and supportive, offering visible controls and consistent access to assistance.

These various updates in WCAG 2.2 reflect a substanstial effort to increase web accessibility, highlighting inclusivity and user-centric design principles that align with our commitment to creating accessible digital experiences that support everyone.

2. Emphasis on user interaction

WCAG 2.2 introduces guidelines designed to enhance the way that users engage with web content, with extra focus on those with disabilities that affect navigation and comprehension.

By prioritising improvements in keyboard navigation and ensuring disability-friendly functionality, WCAG 2.2 makes these experiences smoother and more accessible for everybody.

For example, new criteria address the ease of media playback control, the visibility of controls when needed, and the consistency of navigational support across web pages.

These enhancements are not just about enabling easier access, but also about creating a user experience that is less reliant on specific physical abilities.

Our adoption of these guidelines underlines our commitment to inclusivity, ensuring that both Ember and client projects cater to a diverse user base by offering more engaging and user-friendly digital experiences.

3. Clarifications for better implementation

WCAG 2.2 also helps to bring clarification and refinement aimed at better implementation of web accessibility standards.

These updates aim to resolve any ambiguities that were present in previous guidelines, providing more straightforward directions for developers and designers.

By offering detailed explanations and practical examples, 2.2 ensures that the criteria are not only more accessible but also more actionable.

This effort to demystify accessibility guidelines helps us, as web professionals, develop a deeper understanding, allowing us to integrate accessibility more effectively into our work.

Our projects are now able to reach higher levels of efficient accessibility and by following these clarified guidelines, we are better positioned to meet the needs of all users, solidifying our commitment to creating digital services that are accessible and also enjoyable, helping us to support a more inclusive digital world!

The Role of accessiBe in Ensuring Compliance

Within the evolving framework of web accessibility, accessiBe is a pivotal tool for ensuring compliance with the latest WCAG 2.2 standards.

By utilising AI and automation, accessiBe optimises the process of providing website accessibility, effectively catering to diverse needs with precision and speed.

We dynamically adjust web elements and functionalities to meet the various needs of users with disabilities and accessiBe helps us to not only simplify compliance but also take the user’s experience to higher levels.

accessiBe has been integrated into our project workflows and this is something we do for all of our digital product services. It can automatically find and fix accessibility issues in real-time, keeping our websites compliant with the evolving standards and new content.

Accessibility has always been a top priority for us and with the continuous monitoring and adjustment capabilities of accessiBe, this means that accessibility is not a one-time task, but is instead a sustained commitment for us.

It also allows us to focus on innovation while maintaining these standards.

Implications for the Services we deliver

By following the WCAG 2.2 guidelines with the help of accessiBe, we are continuously doing our best to improve all of our digital services, especially keeping in line with the UK Digital Service Standard.

The UK Digital Service Standard highlights user-centred design, accessibility and constant improvement and aligns perfectly with the values of WCAG 2.2.

In line with this, we continue to involve accessibility in our project planning, development, and testing to make sure we meet the standard. This is something accessiBe helps us with, too.

The DSS promotes continuous learning and adaptation, making sure our teams always have the latest knowledge and tools to build digital solutions that are both innovative and accessible.

Continuing from Alan’s previous statement, he said,

“In my role I often have the opportunity to speak with users directly, and hearing that accessibility features you have implemented have helped in some way is rewarding.

Accessible design does benefit everyone in some way or another. While not everyone will have specific accessibility needs (i.e. the use of a screen reader or other assistive technologies), most people will have the experience of looking at a screen that is too small, or at an awkward angle, or obscured by heavy sunlight.

In these ways, accessible design practices do help to make sure that the product we deliver is as user friendly it can possibly be.”

Work with us
Want to chat to someone from our team about a project?
Get in touch