WCAG 2.0 or WCAG 2.1?

What's the Difference Between WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1?

If you haven’t taken a look at the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines recently, you might want to give them a visit. You’ll notice that there have been some changes to them! The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) released the updated version on June 5th, 2018. The standards outlined in WCAG are mostly the same, but a few significant updates have been added. The new document adds provisions for those with low vision in addition to those with cognitive and learning disabilities. It also expands upon its coverage of mobile accessibility. The new updates can help you to better serve everyone in your audience, but first, you’ll need to know what’s changed!

An Overview of WCAG

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines were passed by W3C to ensure that every person has equal access to websites, web content, and web applications and their functions, regardless of their disability and medium of Internet access.

The World Wide Web Consortium is an international organization that develops standards for the Internet. The main goal of their work is to develop protocols that ensure the Internet’s long-term growth.

In general, WCAG is meant for use by web and web content developers, but this doesn’t mean that they’re the only ones who should know it. In general, companies should have a general understanding of how WCAG works and why it was created in the first place. It could help in the long run!

The Difference Between 2.0 and 2.1

When WCAG 2.0 was released in 2009, it contained four critical principles for digital accessibility. For your website to follow the guidelines, it must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. These principles spawned 12 guidelines, each with their list of “success criteria” needed to create accessible content – no matter what form it takes. There are 63 in total. WCAG 2.0 also uses a three “A” scoring system in determining how well your organization conforms with the guidelines, with 3 A’s being the highest standard and 1 A being the lowest.

These criteria are the same between versions 2.0 and 2.1, so any content that conforms to the latter also conforms to the former.

The difference between the two guideline sets lies within the “success criteria”. In WCAG 2.1, 17 new “success criteria” requirements have been added. The new requirements, bringing the number of criteria to 80, center around mobile accessibility. Also, WCAG 2.1 added some provisions to benefit a broader range of people. The new requirements are listed below and can be explored further at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

  • 1.3.4 Orientation (AA)
  • 1.3.5 Identify Input Purpose (AA)
  •  1.3.6 Identify Purpose (AAA)
  •  1.4.10 Reflow (AA)
  •  1.4.11 Non-Text Contrast (AA)
  •  1.4.12 Text Spacing (AA)
  •  1.4.13 Content on Hover or Focus (AA)
  •  2.1.4 Character Key Shortcuts (A)
  •  2.2.6 Timeouts (AAA)
  •  2.3.3 Animation from Interactions (AAA)
  •  2.5.1 Pointer Gestures (A)
  •  2.5.2 Pointer Cancellation (A)
  •  2.5.3 Label in Name (A)
  •  2.5.4 Motion Actuation (A)
  •  2.5.5 Target Size (AAA)
  •  2.5.6 Concurrent Input Mechanisms (AAA)
  •  4.1.3 Status Messages (AA)

Which One Should You Adhere To?

Just because WCAG 2.1 exists doesn’t mean the old version has been wiped out! While they’re both considered existing standards, W3C recommends following the most recent version of the guidelines.

As of right now, the leading authorities of accessibility laws require that organizations adhere to WCAG 2.0. With WCAG 2.1 being relatively new, this might change in the future. If your organization is already implementing the criteria established in 2.0, it might not be a bad idea to add the additional criteria from 2.1! Since 2.1 is backward compatible, your organization would be complying with the standards while preparing for future changes. It could save you a lot of trouble in the long run!

If you’re just getting started implementing the criteria or require help in doing so, you can contact an accessibility consulting company! Their job is to conduct a thorough assessment of your website for compliance issues and use a series of tests to identify the issues. They’ll then be able to work with you and your organization to fix the problems and get your website on track!

How We Can Help

At SDS Accessible Websites, we can help your organization get up to date and stay updated on the latest version of WCAG. We will make sure that your website falls into compliance with the guidelines, and if we find a problem, we’ll tell you how you can best correct it to get your website back on track! We stay up to date on the latest versions of WCAG, so you’ll be the first to know if new changes arise!