WCAG 2.2 – meeting the new standards

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 introduce new requirements aimed at making web content more accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities. For parish council website publishers, adhering to these guidelines is crucial to ensure that their websites are inclusive and compliant with legal standards.

WCAG 2.2 was introduced on 5 October 2023. Nine new criteria make their definitive debut in this new version of the WCAG standard. New sections have also been introduced that detail aspects of the specification which may impact privacy and security. WCAG 2.2 extends Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG2.1), which was published in June 2018.

All local councils are required to ensure that their website complies with WGAG 2.2 AA Accessibility Guidelines by October 2024.

Key New Requirements in WCAG 2.2:

  1. Focus Appearance (2.4.11): Ensures that the focus indicator is visible when navigating through interactive elements using the keyboard. This helps users who rely on keyboard navigation to easily see where they are on the page.
  2. Dragging Movements (2.5.7): Provides alternatives to dragging movements for users who have difficulty performing such gestures. This is particularly relevant for touch interfaces, ensuring that users can perform actions like moving sliders or dragging items without requiring fine motor skills.
  3. Target Size (2.5.8): Ensures that touch targets (like buttons and links) are at least 24 by 24 pixels, making them easier to interact with for users with limited dexterity or those using touch devices.
  4. Consistent Help (3.2.6): Requires that help mechanisms (like a ‘contact us’ page or support email) are consistently available throughout the site. This helps users find assistance easily, improving their overall experience.
  5. Redundant Entry (3.3.7): Ensures the user is not expected to re-enter information that they have already provided, such as contact form submissions.

Implications for Parish Council Website Publishers:

  1. Design and Development Adjustments: Web developers will need to ensure that interactive elements like buttons and form fields have adequate focus indicators and meet the target size requirements. This may involve redesigning certain elements to make them more accessible.
  2. Keyboard and Touch Accessibility: Developers must provide alternative methods for actions typically performed by dragging, ensuring that users can interact with all elements of the website using different input methods, such as keyboard navigation or voice commands.
  3. Consistent User Support: Parish council websites must include consistent help options available on every page. This might involve ensuring that support contact information is displayed in a prominent and consistent location.
  4. Ongoing Compliance Monitoring: Regular accessibility audits will be necessary to ensure that websites continue to meet WCAG 2.2 standards. This involves using tools and possibly third-party services to test and validate accessibility.

By implementing these new WCAG 2.2 requirements, parish council website publishers can ensure their sites are more inclusive, providing a better user experience for everyone, including those with disabilities. This not only enhances accessibility but also ensures compliance with legal and ethical standards.