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Quick Guide to WCAG 2.1
First Public Working Draft
What's new and how to submit comments (due before Mar 31, 2017)

NOTE: This is a quick summary of the First Public Working Draft (FPWD) of WCAG 2.1.

Three task forces submitted 8-10 proposed Success Criteria each. The Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AGWG) approved a few before our shipping deadline and allowed the task forces to vet the rest. These proposals represent thousands of hours work. However, some may not meet the Requirements for Success Criteria which are necessary for implementation and backwards compatibility with WCAG 2.0.

How to comment?

Follow the link in the table to a Success Criterion and ask ... "is it":

  • Testable by expert human evaluation or automation?
  • Implementable across technologies (or are exceptions sufficient)?
  • Scalable across human languages?
  • Could your organization implement 2.1? Why or why not?
  • If not, do you have suggestions to improve it?

To comment, open a new issue on Github. Comments due by Mar. 31, 2017.

What's New in WCAG 2.1 First Draft?

Below are the 28 proposed new Success Criteria summarized in plain language. Note: The 63 Success Criteria from WCAG 2.0 are grandfathered into WCAG 2.1. There may be consolidation in later drafts.

Short Name

Plain language summary of requirements

Who does it help and how? PR Issue SC # Lvl
Support Personalization (Minimum)

Anticipates the release of a set of cognitive attributes (like wai-aria) with things like level of importance, etc. and ways to simplify UIs and reduce steps.

(With exceptions)

Users with cognitive disabilities, low vision and others who need to personalize the interface, either to simplify it, or another change. 127 6 1.3.4 A
Linearization

Requires web page to reflow to a single column either by responsive design or a browser plugin (In developement).

(With exceptions)

Users with tunnel vision, low vision and cognitive disabilities who are either zoomed into the page and need to read without horizontal scroll. 89 58 1.4.10 A
Resize content

Increases zoom requirements to 400% without horizontal scroll. Usually by browser zoom.

(With exceptions)

Users with low vision who need to make things larger. 120 77 1.4.11 A
Graphic Contrast (Minimum)

Extends 4.5:1 and 3:1 contrast minumums to important graphical information.

(With exceptions)

Users with low vision and cognitive disabilities need help seeing or perceiving information in graphics. 100 9 1.4.12 AA
Printing

Requires that the page can be zoomed when printing, up to 200% the default printing size.

Users with low vision who need the print output to be larger. 141 76 1.4.13 AA
User Interface Component Contrast (Minimum)

Extends contrast minimums to visible focus indicators and other interactive controls.

(With exceptions)

Users with low vision and cognitive disabilities who need help seeing or perceiving interactive components. 128 10 1.4.14 AA
Adapting Text

Requires author not to interfere with user style sheets and other CSS based client side interventions.

Users with low vision or cognitive disabilities who need to override the font, line spacing, paragraph spacing, color scheme etc. 124 78 1.4.15 AA
Popup Interference

Requires authors not to have floating elements that cover other content when page is zoomed, unless it's a closable component. For instance, if a CSS box is fixed with a high z-index, it will obscure other content under the element.

Users with low vision who need to work without hover behavior obscuring content.

 

N/A 75 1.4.16 AA
Speech Input Requires authors not to break normal speech software interaction with the site. Helps those who use speech technology navigate and operate the page in addition to inputting text. 139 68 2.1.4 A
Timeouts

Requires authors to not use timeouts or save data to repopulate forms after timeout.

(With exceptions)

Users with low vision and cognitive disabilities get extra time. 116 14 2.2.6 A
Animation from interactions

Requires authors not to use motion over 3 seconds as a result of a user clicking (or activating) something, or provide a way to turn it off. Addresses parallax scrolling and long CSS animations.

Users with vestibular disabilities (motion sickness) and those with cognitive disabilities who need to use the site without being triggered. 96 18 2.2.7 A
Interruptions (minimum)

Requires either no unsolicited popups or a way to turn them off.

(With exceptions)

Users with cognitive disabilities who need to work without interruptions. 98 47 2.2.8 AA
Single key shortcuts Requires authors to not use single key shortcuts, or provide a way to turn them off or change them.Shortcut keys that have a combination of keys are much less likely to be triggered this way. Users of speech technology. (e.g., If the site hijacks "p" key for shortcut, when the user dictates words such as "happy" the shortcut can be triggered.) 133 69 2.4.11 A
Target Size

Requires authors to use 44 x 44px targets for mobile for finger targets and 24 x 24px for mouse, and stylus targets.

(With exceptions)

Users with dexterity disabilities or people without fingers, who have trouble touching a small target N/A 60 2.5.1 A
Pointer inputs with additional sensors

Requires authors not to rely on pen pressure or tilt without an alternative for assistive technology or one finger, attained by X,Y coordinates on the screen.

(With exceptions)

Users with dexterity disabilities who cannot use force touch, or pen pressure, tilt and twist. Helps ensure the user can perform the function with assistive technology or one finger. 144 66 2.5.2 A
Touch with Assistive Technology Requires authors to use standard gestures, and not mess with custom gestures unless they don't interfere with the screen reader, or provide another way for the screen reader. Users who are blind who use a screen reader that ships with the operating system, such as VoiceOver, Talkback, Narrator, particularly on mobile, will still be able to use the site when they turn on their Assistive Technology. 131 63 2.5.3 A
Pointer gestures Requires authors to ensure the user can perform touch function with assistive technology or one finger. Users with dexterity disabilities, those who are blind or have other disabilities that interfere with the use of timed gestures, multi finger, or complex gestures. They can use simple pointer events. 132 61 2.5.4 A
Device sensors Requires authors not to rely on shake and tilt etc. or provide an alternative for assistive technology or one finger. Users who have their device mounted, or who cannot shake or tilt the device, can still use the site. 138 67 2.6.1 A
Orientation

Requires authors not to rely on a screen orientation.

(With exceptions)

Users who have their device mounted, or who cannot change orientation can still use the site even though they have a fixed orientation. 142 70 2.6.2 AA
Plain language (Miniumum)

Requires content authors to make instructions, labels, navigation, error messages in simple tense, common words, basic rules of grammar, clear writing.

(With exceptions)

Users with cognitive disabilities, who need simpler language. (Also helps users in their non-native language). 135 30 3.1.7 A
Manageable blocks

Requires authors to use rules of simple language for important information.

(With exceptions)

Users with cognitive disabilities, who need smaller chunks of information. N/A 24 3.1.8 AA
Extra Symbols Requires authors to put symbols before text strings representing critical services and related instructions OR use attributes (in development) that will automatically generate symbols. Users with cognitive disabilities, who will better understand important instructions with an image, icon or symbol. 115 50 3.1.9 AA
Accidental Activation

Requires authors to use up-event triggering (which is standard) on interactive components.

(With exceptions)

Users with dexterity disabilities who miss the target. It ensures the target is not triggered on touch down, but rather on touch up allowing them to move their finger away from the wrong target if they miss. 111 65 3.2.6 A
Familiar Design (Minimum)

Requires authors to provide help in standardized ways.

(With exceptions)

Users with cognitive disabilities, who become confused when the interface changes between versions. 121 49 3.2.7 A
Change of content

Requires authors to use aria-live or another way to notify AT users when something on the page changes.

(With exceptions)

Users of AT who can't see changes or have trouble perceiving changes on a page, such as shopping cart updates. Their AT will announce a short phrase about new content added to the page. 112 2 3.2.8 AA
Minimize user errors Requires authors to automatically correct errors when that is possible. Users with cognitive and other disabilities who have trouble filling in forms and knowing where there was a mistake. 97 13 3.3.7 A
Undo Requires authors to provide a way to undo actions and go to previous steps in a process without loss of data. Users with cognitive and other disabilities who have a tendency to make errors on input. N/A 38 3.3.8 A
Provide Support Requires authors to provide help for complex information, long documents, numerical information or cardinal directions. Users with cognitive and other disabilities who need help with complicated, complex, long documents, numerical information and directions such as North, South etc... 129 32 3.3.9 AA

 

Feel free to comment on this article on Twitter @davidmacd

Author information:

David MacDonald is a 15 year WCAG veteran and co-editor of Using WAI ARIA in HTML5. Opinions are my own.




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