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Understanding the new WCAG 2.2 criteria

Breaking down the 9 new WCAG 2.2 criteria, what they mean for your team and your products, and how you can seamlessly integrate them into your process.

Team Stark

Team Stark

Dec 06, 2023

WCAG Update. Overview of the latest changes to 2.2. Decorative stylized web elements sit on the right of the frame.

In October, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 became the official recommendation of the W3C. And while these guidelines are critical for designers and engineers, updates like these have a tendency to get overwhelming very quickly. We want to make sure you have all of the information you need to ensure your products are accessible. So, if you’ve been wondering what this means for you, your teams, and your products, we got you covered. 

 Let's dive into the nine new success criteria together.


Clear Focus for Keyboard Navigation (2.4.11 & 2.4.12)

WCAG 2.2 emphasizes keyboard navigability, enhancing user focus. It's not just a feature; it's a necessity. The AA level ensures focusable elements are visible when a page loads, while AAA requires that focusable objects are always visible, ensuring keyboard users don't have to guess their way around.

Interface adhering to criteria 2.4.11 & 2.4.12, with Stark Focus Order annotations indicating keyboard focus order down a sidebar navigation component from Home to Shipping.


Enhanced Visual Cues (2.4.13)

WCAG 2.2 demands bold, unmistakable focus indicators. Think eye-catching cues that stand out in the visual clutter. The guidelines specify that focus indicators, when visible, should be sufficiently large and contrasted, with an area at least as large as a 2 pixel thick perimeter of the unfocused component and a contrast ratio of at least 3:1.

Two Get started buttons. The left with an inadequate dotted focus indicator marked with a red X. and the right with a compliant solid focus indicator marked with a green checkmark.


Simpler Interactions (2.5.7)

For actions requiring complex inputs like dragging, an alternative interaction pattern is required. Every functionality involving dragging must be operable by a single pointer without dragging, except where dragging is essential or the functionality is determined by the user agent and not modified by the author.

Interface with a drag-and-drop option and a keyboard shortcut alternative.


Spacious Click Targets (2.5.8)

Larger, distinct click targets are essential. Targets for pointer inputs should be at least 24x24 pixels. Space around smaller targets must prevent overlap, with larger equivalents for anything under 24x24. Exceptions include browser-defined sizes, essential content, and user-created objects, balancing flexibility with digital accessibility.

Two click targets compared. The left with an inadequate size of 16x16 pixels marked with a red X, and the right with an accessible size of 44x44 pixels marked with a green checkmark.


Consistent Help Placement (3.2.6)

Help options across distinct pages must be located consistently. Basically, put help buttons in the same place across your product. Easy enough, right? 

A help button consistently placed in the bottom right corner, exemplifying WCAG 3.2.6's requirement for consistent help option placement.


Visibility of Essential Controls (3.2.7)

Essential controls must be readily available, not hidden by default. Further proof that good user experience and accessibility go hand in hand. 

Text editor toolbar with essential formatting controls—alignment, bold, and italic options—labeled as


Accessible Authentication (3.3.7)

WCAG 2.2 advocates for alternative authentication methods, moving beyond traditional, memory-intensive passwords and CAPTCHAs. This specifically is helpful for people with cognitive disabilities or struggle to parse CAPTCHAs.

Two login forms side by side; the left form with password only, marked incorrect with a red X, and the right form offering. Password or Email login link, marked correct with a green checkmark.


Less Redundancy, More Efficiency (3.3.8)

This criterion focuses on minimizing repeated inputs and reducing complexity. As a result, this will improve efficiency for everyone, especially those with cognitive and learning disabilities.

Form fields for Billing Address and Zip Code prefilled with 123 Sesame Street, Unit ABC and 123456 respectively, demonstrating WCAG 3.3.8's goal to reduce redundancy and simplify repeated data entry.

Start by conducting a comprehensive audit of your digital products with Stark. Our tools are designed to seamlessly integrate these new standards, supercharging your transition to WCAG 2.2. Don't just meet the new guidelines–raise the benchmark for what it means to excel at them.

As we embrace the guidelines within WCAG 2.2, it's important to understand them so we can make actionable moves towards implementing them — and in turn creating a more inclusive world. Ultimately? We know you have to comply (that’s why we pushed out the Compliance Center!) but this work can’t be and isn't just about compliance; it's about building digital experiences that are genuinely accessible to everyone.