WCAG 3.0: What you need to know about the future of accessibility standards

Daniel Berryhill on 2021-11-14

WCAG 3.0 will be here soon and it will represent a significant shift in how accessibility is measured. Let’s take a closer look at what’s coming.

Photo by Anthony Yin on Unsplash

Status of WCAG 3.0 (and 2.2)

As of the writing of this article, WCAG 3.0 is out as a Working Draft. This means AGWG (Accessibility Guidelines Working Group) is satisfied that the draft is ready for public feedback.

Take a look for yourself: WCAG 3.0 Working Draft

WCAG 3.0 isn’t supposed to finalize until 2023. Don’t be surprised if it gets pushed to an even later date, though.

WCAG 2.2 is/was supposed to be finalized in 2021; but it will likely finalize in 2022. The good news is the new standards probably won’t change much between now and the time it does. WCAG 2.2 will be the last iteration of the 2 Series.

Take a look: WCAG 2.2 Working Draft

What Will Happen to WCAG 2 Series?

The WCAG 2 Series, which will end with WCAG 2.2, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. So, don’t panic.

WCAG 3.0 will not be backwards compatible with the WCAG 2 Series; but the 2 Series will not be deprecated by the 3 Series. Both will be parallel standards.

So, if your content is compliant with WCAG 2.2, then it will not have to be tested against WCAG 3.0 standards (unless you want it to). Compliance with either of the standards will be acceptable.

Why is WCAG 3.0 Needed?

There are known challenges with how the WCAG 2 Series was written. While AGWG has attempted to address some of those challenges in WCAG 2.1 and 2.2, it’s clear the standards need an overhaul.

Changes in Technology

WGAC 2.0 finalized in 2008. That’s just one year after Apple released the original iPhone. Obviously, technology has made great leaps since then, which includes web technologies as well as assistive technologies.