On June 5, 2018, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) officially released an update to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the technical standards for ensuring digital content is accessible. The release of WCAG 2.1 is an exciting progression because not only is it a massive step in making digital content more accessible for more people, but it is also the first "full-fledged dot-release" for the WCAG 2.0 framework since its release in 2008.
Now that you have a little bit of background information, here are the 5 things that you need to know about WCAG 2.1:
Version 2.1 does not change any of the success criteria established by version 2.0. It simply includes 17 additional success criteria.
The new criteria were created to fill existing gaps in WCAG 2.0 by addressing:
A. mobile accessibility
B. people with low vision
C. people with cognitive disabilities.
We access digital content so differently now than we did back in 2008 when WCAG 2.0 was initially released. Just think about how frequently we use our mobile phones today; the original iPhone had only been sold in stores for about 18 months when WCAG 2.0 was released. The ever-evolving nature of technology and our relationship with it is one of the major driving forces behind the updates. While the release of WCAG 2.1 is undoubtedly cause for celebration, the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group at W3C is already working on a new major version of the guidelines (WCAG Silver). They are also considering releasing a version 2.2 that would provide additional support in the interim.
If you manage the accessibility of your digital content, then you may need to make additional changes to meet the guidelines established in version 2.1. However, if you are an Audioeye customer, then you can sit back and relax. We will do heavy lifting to help you meet 2.1. Over the next several months, alignment with 2.1 will be seamless as we begin to incorporate these additional success criteria tests in the delivery of our Ally managed service offering.(Note: If you are currently legally mandated to work towards 2.0AA standards, you can continue to work towards 2.0. For more information on this please read this article from the National Law Review about the WCAG Refresh)
While compliance with the new 2.1 guidelines is essential, remember, accessibility is about people. The standards will continue to change and what we must do is remain dedicated to making digital content more accessible and more usable for more people. Working towards creating the best possible experience for users will always be an ongoing process, but it all begins with a decision to "do something."
For more information on the WCAG 2.1 read the full version available on the W3C website.