Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.1 is now W3C Recommendation

W3C has notified Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1) as W3C recommendation on June 5, 2018. This means certain new success criteria are added to existing WCAG 2.0 check-list. Still the W3C’s WCAG 2.0 Level A and Level AA are the recommended set of success criteria. To bridge the gap in the modern web technologies such as mobiles and to increase the use of web more comfortably by people with low vision and cognitive difficulties certain new success criteria are added.

What’s new in WCAG 2.1

There are 17 new success criteria in WCAG 2.1. In this 5 are Level A, 7 Level AA and 5 Level AAA. A new guideline 2.5 Input Modalities has been added to the principle Operable. The guideline 2.3 Seizures is modified to meet the new requirements i.e. 2.3 Seizures and Physical Reactions. A new Success Criterion 2.3.3 Animation from Interactions is included in the guideline.

More information on WCAG 2.1 Level A and AA success criteria

Low vision requirements in WCAG 2.1

1.4.10 Reflow (Level AA)

The intent of this success criteria is to allow the low vision users to use increase browse zoom up to 400% without the loss of most content when scrolled in any one direction. More information on 1.4.10 reflow.

1.4.11 non-text contrast (Level AA)

In WCAG 2.0, certain user interface elements are not clearly defined with color contrast requirements. The states and boundaries of user interface components those defined by author, parts of graphics that are required to understand the content must have a contrast ratio of 3 : 1. More about 1.4.11 Non-text contrast.

1.4.12 Text Spacing (Level AA)

The intent of this success criteria is to provide enough flexibility for users who want to increase spacing between paragraphs, lines, words or characters can still be able to read the page without the loss of content. Users may use author defined styles or browser bookmarklets or any other features to achieve the required spacing. In addition to low vision users, users who are dyslexic will also benefit with this success criteria. More about 1.4.12 Text Spacing.

1.4.13 Content on hover or focus (Level AA)

The intent of this requirement is to avoid unintended interference of content such as tooltips, modals, popups when user interface element receives keyboard focus or hovered by pointing device. The accessibility problems caused due to these kind of content can be either user is not at all aware of the displayed content or user is not intended for the interaction or the new content may interfere user’s current task. More information about 1.4.13 Content on focus or hover.

4.1.3 Status Messages (Level AA)

Status messages must be made available for blind and low vision users without interrupting their current task. Status messages must be programmatically defined such that the assistive technologies can identify them and present to the user in most convenient way. More about 4.1.3 Status messages.

Cognitive requirements in WCAG 2.1

1.3.5 Identify input purpose (Level AA)

The intent of this success criteria is to provide an easy and personalized solutions when a page have input elements. By providing a meaningful additional information user agents or assistive technologies can provide simplest ways to fill in the data. More information about 1.3.5 Identify input purpose.

Mobile requirements in WCAG 2.1

1.3.4 orientation (Level AA)

In the realm of mobile, many applications provide content different in different orientations. Some content or elements that are available in portrait are not available in landscape or vice versa. Content authors must be aware that some users lock the display orientation of their devices or the devices may be fixed on a specific place such as on the arm of power wheelchair. This success criteria requires content authors to provide the content and elements available in both orientations. The placement or the sequence can be changed but the content and functionality must be made available. More about 1.3.4 Orientation.

2.1.4: Character Key Shortcuts (Level A)

The shortcut keys should not be character dependent. Having characters with only a combination of upper or lower case letters or punctuations may not be useful for users who depend on voice input and keyboard only users. Keyboard users may accidently activate the keys. This success criteria does not prohibit the use of access keys. More information on 2.1.4 Character key shortcuts.

2.5.1 Pointer Gestures (Level A)

The intent of this success criteria is to provide simple gestures to interact with the content. Multi pointing gestures and path based gestures will not be easy for many users and hence may not be benefit with content dependent on these type of gestures. This success criteria does not restrict the gestures supplied by user agents or assistive technologies. More about 2.5.1 Pointer gestures.

2.5.2 Pointer Cancellation (Level A)

The intent of this success criteria is to avoid accidental pointer inputs. Users with disabilities may accidentally focus on an user interface element accidentally that may cause in unwanted results. More information about  2.5.2 Pointer Cancellation.

2.5.3 Label in Name (Level A)

The intent of this success criteria is to enable users who depend on voice commands to interact with the user interface components. Often the voice commands used by the user will be the visible labels. If the text on the visible label does not match with the accessible label where the accessible label is assigned as voice command the interaction will not be performed. Providing the visible label and accessible name as the same for text and images of text that have visible label will benefit not only mobile users but also users with cognitive difficulties. More about 2.5.3 Label in name.

2.5.4 Motion Actuation (Level A)

Motion actuations such as shaking or tilting should not be the only way of doing a function on the web. Additionally user interface components also should be available on the application to perform the same action. Sometimes the device may be fixed to a table or a wheel chair and motions cannot be performed. A mechanism should also be in place to switch off the motion actuating functions. People who have trimmers may accidentally shake the device which can cause in performing unintended action. More about 2.5.4 Motion actuation.

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