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Month: February 2020

W3C WAI publishes WCAG 2.2 first public working draft

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)  Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI Accessibility Guidelines Working Group has published a first public working draft of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2.

The primary reason for the update so soon after WCAG 2.1 relates to the addition of Success Criteria to support the needs of people with cognitive or learning disabilities. The WCAG 2.0 standard, while widely adopted, was often viewed as being week in providing support to people with cognitive disabilities due to relevant Success Criteria being placed in the rarely implemented Level AAA compliance. Support was also largely overlooked in the WCAG 2.1 dot release. As such, the addition of support to the standard is seen as a welcome update.

According to W3C WAI, the development of the WCAG 2.2 draft will likely feature up to 12 additional Success Criteria, providing additional guidance for users of mobile devices and users of e-books.

In this initial draft, the Success Criteria 2.4.7 Focus visible from WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 has been changed from level AA to level A. In addition, there has been a focus on one new success criterion: 2.4.11 Focus visible (Enhanced) for Level AA implementation. These changes make the original Focus Visible an essential requirement, with the new Success Criterion providing updated guidance at Level AA on optimising its implementation.

The New Success Criterion is described as follows:

“When a User Interface Component displays a visible keyboard focus, all of the following are true:

  • Minimum area: The focus indication area is greater than or equal to the longest side of the bounding rectangle of the focused control, times 2 CSS pixels.
  • Focus contrast: Color changes used to indicate focus have at least a 3:1 contrast ratio with the colors changed from the unfocused control.
  • Contrast or thickness: The focus indication area has a 3:1 contrast ratio against all adjacent colors for the minimum area or greater, or has a thickness of at least 2 CSS pixels.”

The changing of Focus Visible to Level A, and the specific guidance on border size and colour contrast at Level AA, is likely to significantly improve the web navigation experience for people who have vision or cognitive disabilities.  While it is very early days on the WCAG 2.2 development, it is an encouraging beginning and has the potential of providing some additional support while the next-generation Silver standard remains in development.

Feedback on the draft can be provided to W3C via the WCAG 2.2 GitHub process or by e-mail

PWAC + OZeWAI 2020 conference highlights

This year the Perth Web Accessibility Camp hosted Australia’s national accessibility conference OZeWAI to bring a fantastic combined event in my home city of Perth for the first time. Here’s some of my personal highlights.

There was a great Keynote presentation titled Global Impact of W3C Accessibility Standards on Business and Industry by Karen Myers from W3C. Karen shared about how the W3C is continuing to support the development of web standards through updates with existing standards such as WCAG, and how groups are also working on emerging technologies. Often in Australia there’s a sense of isolation from the work of the international community, and having Karen speak at the conference helped to bridge the Australian community with the international work.

My own presentation followed on from Karen’s lead, discussing my W3C work involvement with the development of the XR User requirements (XAUR). The presentation focused on the W3C work about user needs and requirements for people with disability when using virtual reality or immersive environments, augmented or mixed reality and other related technologies (XR). The presentation focused on a recent working draft that outlines accessibility user needs for XR and their related requirements. This is followed by information about related work that may be helpful to understand the complex technical architecture and processes behind how XR environments are built and what may form the basis of a robust accessibility architecture. It was great to have an opportunity to present work that had only just been approved for release by the APA working group a week earlier.

From a learning perspective there were several presentations that I found really helpful including Matt Putland’s discussion on accessibility law, Ben Long’s children’s book, Vithya Vijayakumare’s excellent presentation on video accessibility and Jason McKee from AccessibilityShield who travelled over from the USA to talk about How the Disabled Built the Internet. Amazing to think that if a few people with disability weren’t included in critical decision-making in the early days of the Internet, things would be very different for us today.

While the overall quality of the presentations were fantastic, the standout for me this year was titled What does peanut butter have to do with accessibility? presented by Gisele Mesnage. The presentation focused on Gisele’s experience in lodging a complaint against Coles, and how the outcome led to Coles not only addressing the accessibility issues with its grocery website, but also won an Australian Access Award for best corporate website as a result. Gisele emphasised that we need to move our laws from ‘smooth’ laws to ‘crunchy’ laws so that companies will make things accessible by default rather than having a need for the complaints process. It was a great talk and even featured peanut butter props!

Of course no PWAC would be complete without The Great Debate. Now in its 7th year, the topic for the light hearted banter was ‘Emerging Tech makes Web Accessibility Redundant’. I was on the Affirmative side this year with each speaker having only three minutes to try to argue their point. As usual it was a lot of fun for the audience and the participants.

Thanks to the PWAC and OZeWAI committees for what was a great conference. Links to all the presentation videos can be found in the PWAC + OZeWAI Programme listing.

W3C WAI updates WCAG-EM Report Tool

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has updated its report generation tool based on the Website Accessibility Conformance Evaluation Methodology (WCAG-EM) 1.auditing processes.

In its press release, the Tool has received several updates, described as follows:

“The tool helps you generate website accessibility evaluation reports according to Website Accessibility Conformance Evaluation Methodology (WCAG-EM). It now lets you select:

  • all success criteria in WCAG 2.1
  • only success criteria added in WCAG 2.1
  • all success criteria in WCAG 2.0

The updates also include a basic import feature so you can import results in JSON format from automated tools. We are exploring further refinements to this new feature, and welcome your feedback.”

It’s great to see the W3C WAI continuing to update tools to make it easier to undertake accessibility assessments.