Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Effective June 1, 2020, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1, Level AA is the technical standard for websites to measure compliance with the University’s IT Accessibility Policy. WCAG 2.1 extends WCAG 2.0 with the addition of 17 success criteria, twelve of which are required for WCAG 2.1, Level AA conformance.

The guidelines primarily address accessibility conformance in three areas:

  • people who use mobile devices
  • people with low vision
  • people with cognitive and learning disabilities. 

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has published two informative support resources:

Developers and editors are encouraged to review these documents.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, Version 2.1, extend WCAG 2.0 with the addition of one guideline and seventeen success criteria. The guidelines primarily address accessibility conformance for: people who use mobile devices, people with low vision, and people with cognitive or learning disabilities. Web developers and editors are encouraged to review the additional guideline and criteria.

WCAG 2.1 Questions

Does my site have to conform to WCAG 2.1?

Effective June 1, 2020, WCAG 2.1 is the accessibility standard for all new web applications, websites, pages, and content. As in the past, non-compliant content will be reported to the website owner for remediation.

Some sites may require conformance to Section 508, which references WCAG 2.0. These sites should make every effort to meet the WCAG 2.1 standard, which guarantees WCAG 2.0 conformance.

On rare occasions, sites may not be subject to the University's IT Accessibility Policy.

What about content published before June 1?

Content published prior to June 1, 2020 should be remediated to achieve WCAG 2.1, Level AA conformance. Site owners and editors should prioritize remediation for:

  • content that is the subject of an accessibility complaint
  • content provided specifically for the benefit of persons with disabilities
  • content necessary for users to effectively use the website
  • high-volume or public-facing content

Site managers are advised to incorporate WCAG 2.1 conformance into their site maintenance schedule.

How is WCAG 2.1 different from WCAG 2.0?

WCAG 2.1 includes all of the success criteria from WCAG 2.0. A site that passes WCAG 2.1 therefore passes WCAG 2.0. Conversely, a site can be WCAG 2.0 conformant without passing WCAG 2.1.

What are the new rules in WCAG 2.1?

WCAG 2.1 includes all of the success criteria in WCAG 2.0, and adds seventeen more. The new success criteria are distributed throughout levels A, AA, and AAA of the guidelines. Six of the new success criteria are included in a new guideline, WCAG 2.5, which addresses user input modalities.

How can I test conformance with WCAG 2.1?

All of the tools that test conformance with WCAG 2.0 continue to apply to those criteria in WCAG 2.1. In the published recommendation, all WCAG criteria include sufficient techniques. These techniques satisfy the criteria by definition. As in the past, the IT Accessibility group will provide guidance and assistance in testing and conformance.

You can also test all of the new criteria manually using common desktop and mobile user agents.

Does WCAG 2.1 apply to non-web technologies?

The University's accessibility standard for non-web technologies is Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 508), as described by the United States Access Board in “Text of the Standards and Guidelines - United States Access Board”. The standard also includes functional usability with assistive technologies, including screen readers.

Section 508 includes WCAG 2.0 by reference, excepting 2.4.1, 2.4.5, 3.2.3, and 3.2.4 for non-web technologies. For improved accessibility and conformance with future standards, providers of non-web technologies are encouraged to address the additional criteria of WCAG 2.1 where they are relevant.

Complete University standards for non-web technologies are included in Standards for Non-Web Technologies on this site.