Will WCAG 2.2 AA Be Legally Required in 2023?

So how should we view the new release of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.2?

Well as of the date of this video we are not anywhere close to having the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.2 as a legal requirement.

However, it’s obviously a best practice – if you can incorporate those additional 7 success criteria from conformance level AA into your website, that’s a great thing.

But it’s definitely not a legal requirement. And I don’t think we would even see any serial plaintiffs’ law firms make any 2.2 claims.

So behind me I have a white board and I have a lot of text on it.

Well let’s just first start off so everybody can relate the different versions of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

We have version 2.0 which I call the classic standard.

And conformance level AA has 38 success criteria or accessibility considerations or things to do under the 2.0 AA standard.

And then 2.1 added twelve additional success criteria to 2.0.

So nothing was undone with 2.0 but just 12 additional things were added to it.

So what’s important to keep in mind with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is they are backwards compatible which means nothing is ever undone by a new version, it just merely adds to it.

And then with 2.2 we are adding seven additional success criteria to 2.1.

And these additional success criteria help address issues with people that have low vision, people that have motor impairments, and/or cognitive and learning disabilities.

So 2.2 really does help accessibility, it’s addressing different things.

Some of these are related to what you can find in previous versions but there are only seven additional things to incorporate your website to be 2.2 AA conformant.

But as I just stated on 2.2 as of the date of this video hasn’t even been been released yet so even when it does get released – let’s say it happens in December of 2022 or January 2023 – it’s unrealistic to expect conformance with 2.2.

So yeah, it’s great if you can make your website conform it but I can tell you from experience that most web most website owner/operators, most companies they are still working to get 2.0 and 2.1 issues taken care of.

Will we see claims from serial law firms?

Highly unlikely. They may reference the fact that there’s a new version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, but I think it’s unrealistic even for serial plaintiffs’ law firms to start referencing 2.2 issues as aggressive as they are.

However, they may cite to the fact that there’s a new version- they may cite to 2.2, but I think their claims will still be mostly claims that you can find under version 2.0 or claims of accessibility issues under 2.0.

So when you are looking to follow best-best practice which I refer to 2.2 and 2023 as a best-best practice because it really is taking it to the next level.

And if you are 2.2 conformant, it is something that would be great to mentioned in your accessibility statement because you are next level in making sure your website accessible.

But it is important to keep in mind the resources you have available because there are many entities that are still- that they’re just working through 2.0.

They’re getting their re-audits and they’re looking through the audits and trying to incorporate those accessibility issues and remediate those.

So there’s just there’s a lot already.

Most websites are not even 2.1 conformant – and even for that matter 2.0 conformant.

So it depends how much- do you have the developers, do you have the personnel available to be 2.2 conformant.

And then the DOJ intends to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking for website accessibility in 2023.

And this is for Title II of the ADA, so for public entities.

The significance there is that even if you are a private entity, this regulation for Title II is there’s- I think there’s a really good chance there will be a follow up for Title III which will apply to private entities.

And so you’ll want to pay real attention to this and it’ll be very interesting to see what version of WCAG they incorporate or if they incorporate a version at all.

They might reference it but there might be- they might hedge a little bit because it is so hard to have a binary yes or no with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

I’ll get that- get to that in another video but the point is is that there will be- there’s likely regulation for coming and it will be interesting to see what version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines they reference and or incorporate.

Also, the Access Board may refresh Section 508 to incorporate the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 or 2.2.

Currently the last refresh was in 2017 which was ahead of the WCAG 2.1 release so we didn’t see 2.1.

So I’m interested to see what Section 508 incorporates in their next refresh.

But this is the legal rundown.

It won’t- you won’t in 2023- I don’t think you will see any legal authorities reference 2.2 as a requirement.

I think what you may see mention of the new release but conformance of 2.2 at this point is unrealistic especially because all we have to date is a working draft.

And so even when it is officially published it will still take time for that new version to settle and for entities to be conformant- to make their websites conformant with it.