Our team recently attended a webinar hosted by some of the Government Digital Service’s Accessibility Specialists. The talk was about the new WCAG 2.2 changes and what we need to do about it. There were many key takeaways from the call, getting the team to discuss internally the new changes and what this means for ourselves and our clients. Our priority is to support our clients through these changes starting with creating a roadmap.
But first, we wanted to talk a little bit more about what was included in the webinar, as the WCAG 2.2 changes were explained in a way that was perceivable to everybody. GDS’s Accessibility Specialists broke down the new criterion and what this means for websites.
The webinar started by explaining the thought process behind the The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018, and the changes that have happened since publication. Since the UK came out of the EU, the regulations were amended to remove any links to the EU and the standard we follow changed from EN 301 549 to WCAG. The hosts talked about how there are no plans to change the accessibility statement, but organisations are still expected to keep them up to date and reviewed at least once a year.
The team at GDS mentioned that they plan to begin monitoring the new changes that have been implemented to public sector websites a year after the changes are published, giving organisations a year to ensure they are up to date with the new accessibility standards.
Focus not obscured (AA)
The new criteria states that components must not be entirely hidden when focused – which put simply, means content should not be hidden behind elements such as cookie banners.
Dragging movements (AA)
The functionality of a particular area of a website or app must not rely on dragging. Users must be able to use an alternative way to complete a task online without having to use a dragging element.
Target size (AA)
Targets, plus their symbols must be at least 24 pixels apart. It was explained that many image carousels would fail this criteria due to the spacing between buttons on a carousel, giving users the option to skip between each image/video on a carousel.
Consistent help (A)
If help mechanisms exist (if there is a help section on your website) then they must appear consistently in the same place throughout your site. For example, if you have a help page in the footer navigation of your site, you must be able to access it regardless of the page a user is on within the site.
Redundant entry (A)
Information previously entered by or provided to the user that is required to be entered again in the same process is either:
- Auto-populated, or
- Available for the user to select.
- Re-entering the information is essential,
- The information is required to ensure the security of the content, or
- Previously entered information is no longer valid.
Accessible authentication (AA)
A cognitive test (such as solving a puzzle) is not required for any step in an authentication process unless that step provides an alternative. People should be able to copy and paste a password from the likes of a password manager from the same device they are using without running into issues to solve the problem of having to remember a password, which falls under the cognitive test rule.
Parsing is a current requirement of WCAG 2.1, this is being said to be removed from the requirements. This is a requirement that HTML code is valid in certain ways. The decision has been made to remove this because browsers are now far more clever than they used to be, and any other major issues are likely to crop up under other WCAG success criteria.
- Internal learning and development on the WCAG changes implemented in 2.2
- Updating Karabiner, our WordPress framework to meet the 2.2 updates
- The introduction of new testing criteria to our accessibility testing and accessibility audit to ensure compliance is correctly measured
- Curate a list of common changes required by many websites to determine the minimum set of updates that will affect a majority of our managed websites and applications
- Work with clients to discuss and determine how this can be measured and monitored and how best to approach this as an ongoing process as it relies on not only the codebase of the site but the way that content is presented and designed.
As we mentioned earlier, you must check and update your accessibility statements within a year of the WCAG 2.2 publication before GDS begins checking websites for the new criteria. Talk to third party suppliers such as ourselves here at Mixd, about the components that we have discussed so far. We can also help in conducting an accessibility audit to check conformance of WCAG 2.2. You must create a plan to implement these changes and give yourself the right amount of time (and budget) to implement the new changes.
Please do get in touch if you would like to talk through any of the changes or how we can help you in more detail.