What does WCAG mean?
WCAG stands for "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines".
WCAG is the international standard for web accessibility, developed by the W3C, the internet standard organization that is also responsible for HTML and CSS standards. Siteimprove is a member of the W3C and actively participates in the standardization efforts within the area of digital accessibility.
When does WCAG 2.1 come into force?
WCAG 2.1 was made an official W3C recommendation on June 5, 2018.
The EU web accessibility directive that comes into force in EU member states on the 23 September 2018 references WCAG 2.1 as the standard to be used.
In the US, Section 508 was updated to WCAG 2.0 (entering into force January 18, 2018), it is not clear if and when it will get updated to WCAG 2.1.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) only states in Title III that communication, including web/internet, must be made accessible. It doesn’t reference any particular standard. Up until now WCAG 2.0 has widely been considered the de facto standard for ADA compliance of websites. Now that WCAG 2.1 is the new official W3C recommendation for web accessibility, we expect that there will be an increasing expectation for websites to live up to WCAG 2.1.
What is the difference between WCAG 2.0 and 2.1?
WCAG 2.1 adds new success criteria to 2.0.
This means that everything you have been doing for WCAG 2.0 is still valid in WCAG 2.1. It also means that if you follow WCAG 2.1, you will, at the same time, be WCAG 2.0 compliant.
12 new success criteria have been added on level A+AA in WCAG 2.1, and 5 new success criteria have been added on level AAA.
Most of the new WCAG 2.1 success criteria are related to:
- Low vision
Siteimprove and WCAG 2.1
Checks that are already included
WCAG 2.1 adds new success criteria to 2.0, meaning all 2.0 checks are still valid. So, you can say that Siteimprove already carries out many of the checks for WCAG 2.1 compliance.
Giving you the full overview
The guidelines page in our platform includes the new 2.1 success criteria. Users have a full list of success criteria including new ones that require manual checking.
New checks on their way
Siteimprove is currently developing standardized Accessibility Conformance Testing (ACT) rules with W3C and partners in the WAI-Tools project, co-funded by the European Commission. Checks for the new WCAG 2.1 success criteria will be included in this work.
In regards to the new WCAG 2.1 success criteria, 2.5.3 Label in Name is an example of one that can be tested for automatically whereas the majority can not. This check and others developed through the W3C ACT Rules community Group will be implemented within Siteimprove's new Accessibility Net Generation product due to launch in the first half of 2020.
Where can I learn more about WCAG 2.1?
Learn more about WCAG 2.1:
- Siteimprove blog post: WCAG 2.1 Has Arrived —and Here’s What You Should Know Right Now
- Press release from W3C about the release of WCAG 2.1
- What's new in WCAG 2.1 (W3C)
- The WCAG 2.1 specification