Digital accessibility has many different standards and requirements worldwide. That said, WCAG is the universal standard for developing accessible websites. Its newest iteration, WCAG 3.0, is currently being formulated, representing a seismic shift in assessing and enforcing digital accessibility. UserWay team members are part of this process, and so we can share what is coming, and it’s good news particularly for organizations with many digital assets and web pages.
All businesses should prepare for these future changes. But first, consider the most important reason to embrace WCAG 3.0: Everybody deserves equal access to the web, and providing greater inclusivity isn’t just wise legal counsel but an ethically sound business philosophy.
So, let’s start by understanding the four main principles (POUR) of WCAG guidelines to help clarify WCAG 3.0. Then we’ll move on to what future changes may entail.
POUR: The Four Main WCAG Principles
The success criteria of WCAG 2.0, 2.1, and 2.2 describe accessible practices that are testable. All standards align with a minimum of one POUR principle (see below).
Information and UI elements must be presentable and perceptible to every end user’s senses. For example, providing alt text for all non-text content is critical so it’s easier to see and hear.
digital device interfaces and web navigation elements like buttons must be operable and versatile enough to ensure optimal usability for people with disabilities. For instance, keyboard functionality must be accessible and offer ample time for all users to engage in and comprehend content.
It should be easy for everybody of every ability to understand your website’s content and UI.
Content accessibility must evolve with rapidly changing technology. So, websites should be compatible with updated browsers and assistive tech.
By all accounts, WCAG 3.0 should make it easier for companies to comply, as discussed in the next section.
The WCAG 3.0 Rating System Should be a Welcome Change
Web accessibility standards take a black-and-white, pass/fail approach. Did you know that a huge website with thousands of accessible pages and just one WCAG 2.1 AA failure is assessed as a failure? But take a deep breath because most people expect WCAG 3.0 to be much better at capturing the accessibility status. For example, the new grading system under discussion folds A/AA/AAA compliance levels into a new Bronze, Silver, and Gold scoring system.
WCAG 3.0 also aims to provide a more comprehensive and detailed set of guidelines than previous versions. But it’s also purported to be more flexible, enabling future versions that adapt to the changing technological landscape. For instance, W3C authors claim outcomes will also be more detail-oriented to meet a broader range of needs for people with disabilities. The Working Group is also discussing integrating aspects of the W3C Maturity Model, allowing organizations to share their commitment to accessibility whether just starting out or well along the road.
Do We Know What’s New About WCAG 3.0?
WCAG 3.0 will be an outcome-based, more flexible standard than its predecessors. For example, earlier pass-or-fail versions meant failure to meet every WCAG Level AA guideline meant a site failed to conform with that level altogether.
Here’s how we expect it to work:
- All WCAG 3.0 guidelines have outcomes comparable to the current format guidelines.
- Outcomes will rate on a 0 to 4 scale.
- It will be possible to assess both page components as well as entire pages.
- Critical accessibility violations like an unfillable form will drive the lowest possible score outcome.
- Digital accessibility takes center stage with the continued assistance of authors, designers, and developers. Therefore, WCAG 3.0 will provide crucial information on the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG 2.0) and User-Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG 2.0).
There are still a lot of unknowns to be revealed concerning WCAG 3.0, but the tips below can help you stay ahead of the curve.
Tips To Prepare for WCAG 3.0
1. Content Formatting
Format your content to simplify it for readers and search engines. Bolded headlines, bulleted lists, and limiting paragraphs to five sentences are excellent best practices to accomplish this. These strategies also help adhere to specific WCAG 3.0 sensory and cognitive categories.
Implementing AI-powered features like auto grammar correction, typing, and transcription simplifies UX for people with disabilities.
3. Captioning and Transcripts
WCAG 3.0 will require video and audio captions and transcripts. So, it’s wise to make this a priority for dev and content teams.
4. Adopt a Long-Term View
WCAG 3.0’s intent is to open the web by enhancing the longevity of its content. Therefore, any business that prepares for its changes shows commitment to content that endures and resonates with a broader user base. Check in on the Maturity Model and try it out! Even informally, it can really move the needle in the right direction.
Now that you know more about WCAG 3.0, why not start preparing? The faster you apply what you’ve learned, the better off your company will be.
Summary: Embrace the Future Today
WCAG 3.0 is a significant step forward in digital accessibility standards, and its continued development and improvement will only benefit all users, including people with disabilities. As technology evolves, WCAG 3.0 will remain an essential element of digital accessibility standards, providing developers with the necessary guidelines and tools to ensure their content is inclusive of all people. A more equitable online and digital world is long overdue, and it only becomes more crucial as society calls for greater inclusivity.
We all have a role in supporting this cause, and UserWay can help you be part of it. So let’s make the world more accessible to everyone together.
UserWay: Your Long-term Accessibility Solution
UserWay’s comprehensive AI accessibility solutions not only help you comply in today’s world. They also adapt to the evolution of all universal compliance standards. So, you can rest easy knowing products like our AI-powered Widget progress with the ever-changing regulatory landscape.
Schedule a demo with a friendly representative and see how UserWay can help you prepare for WCAG 3.0.
When Will W3C Release WCAG 3.0?
WCAG 3.0 is still a work in progress. Considering that WCAG 2.3 is only being released in 2023, we expect WCAG 3.0 in 2026.
How Does WCAG 2.2 Relate to Conforming with WCAG 3.0?
WCAG 3.0 will not be retro-compatible with the WCAG 2 Series. However, both standards will parallel each other. In other words, complying with WCAG 2.2 should also mean conforming to WCAG 3.0 success criteria.
WCAG 3.0 or WCAG 2?
It’s not necessary to immediately review WCAG 3.0, and experts recommend conforming with WCAG 2.2 for the time being. And watch for WCAG 2.3!