In the first part of the series on Digital Accessibility, we acquainted you with the terminology, what it entails, the European Accessibility Act, and its impact on businesses and consumers.

Have you heard of WCAG3? Did you know there are guidelines directing web accessibility?

In this part of our series, we delve into WCAG3, its underlying principles, the ratings, and more.

Read on to understand the WCAG3 challenges and how companies can approach the applications of digital accessibility.

WCAG3 Explained

WCAG is the acronym for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. As the name suggests, WCAG3 or W3C  Accessibility guidelines will focus on providing directives towards increasing digital accessibility for the specially-abled and older people. The WCAG3 document is in a working draft mode, and would take a few years before it is completely in place.

The W3C Accessibility Standard, similar to all its earlier versions – WCAG 2.0, 2.1, and 2.2 – is based on the POUR principle.

Perceivable – It must be easy for everyone to see and hear the content/text on the UI or screen. This requires, for example, the inclusion of alt-text or captions everywhere for the non-textual content to be seen or heard.

Operable – It is required that the digital interface elements and web navigation features, such as buttons and wizards, must be usable by everyone. For example, the physically challenged or visually impaired must be able to operate the keyboard keys effectively.

Understandable – The website content or user interface information must be easy to follow and understandable to everyone.

Robust – Website or content accessibility must be excellent, which implies it should be easy to update and compatible with assistive technologies.

WCAG3 aims to offer a much more comprehensive and in-depth set of guidelines compared to its earlier versions. In this regard, it is designed to capture the accessibility status more precisely by incorporating a grading system with A/AA/AAA compliance levels that correspond to Bronze, Silver, and Gold scoring systems.

WCAG3 operates at three conformance levels:

WCAG A- Least/Minimum Level – A minimum level of accessibility that must exist, without which other barriers can’t be overcome with assistive technologies. This level impacts the broadest group and offers maximum benefits.

WCAG AA- Moderate/More Accessible  – Next upper level of digital accessibility. With the minimum level, there would still be some barriers to users.  However, with the AA level, those must be overcome using assistive technologies on computers, laptops, and mobiles.

Important stats:

| 90% of websites are inaccessible to people with disabilities who rely on assistive technologies. | Source

| 98.1 % of home pages had detectable WCAG 2.0 failures. | Source

WCAG AAA – Still Better Accessibility – A state of digital accessibility, which is usually not required, as they call for advanced features on the devices. Nevertheless, even having an AAA level can’t guarantee complete accessibility in the digital arena.

WCAG criteria work such that to conform with AA, a business must adhere to A. Likewise, conformance to AAA implies it must comply with AA.

What are the Current Challenges in WCAG3?

WCAG3 is undoubtedly an enhancement over the earlier versions. However, it’s currently facing some problems in implementation. Let’s understand the WCAG3 challenges.

  • WCAG3 will not override WCAG2, and WCAG2 will not be deprecated until a few more years. That leaves us with the question of website compliance regulations for businesses – which one to adhere to?
  • One of the WCAG3 challenges is the contradictions over conformance. At present, the three levels are designed; however, the apparent scope of each rating or conformance level needs to be established.
  • Another WCAG3 challenge is that technology is dynamic. Today, the guidelines might be inclusive of websites, mobile apps, publishing tools, or such. However, with metaverse or other emerging technologies coming in, the capabilities and guidelines need to be formulated such that they stay relevant going forward.
  • Finally, the most important of all WCAG3 challenges is the enterprise readiness and consumer preparedness to embrace the new assistive technologies or other aids as and when they come into the picture.

How can Companies Prepare for Applications of Digital Accessibility?

With digital accessibility garnering attention amidst the WCAG3 challenges, businesses could resort to various alternatives for making an approach to the upcoming yet imminent initiative. In line with the WCAG3 POUR principle, companies can focus on:

Formatted content – Businesses must ensure their content on websites, blogs, or such is properly formatted. It’s clear as bulleted points, headers, and sub-headings and convenient for even those with cognitive or sensory disabilities to read.

Embrace captioning and transcripts – Companies must adapt and prepare themselves for using audio/video captions or transcripts to make the information more accessible.

Use transcription software/tools – Businesses must start using transcription tools like auto-grammar correction, typo, and such, which would enhance the readability for people with disabilities.

Conduct live workshops – Companies must conduct workshops or meetings to interact with their customers who might be physically challenged or visually impaired to understand their preferences, obtain feedback on the aids that are offered, and such.

Educate the people – The earlier, the better. Companies must choose volunteers and ask them to spread awareness about web accessibility, encouraging people with disabilities and older people to participate.

Adopt a long-term vision – WCAG3 focuses on increasing the longevity of the web content. So, businesses must create content targeted at a broader user base. The guidelines’ Maturity Model also enforces the emphasis on formulating and working towards a long-term vision.

Wrapping Up

WCAG3 is only in the initial stage. However, its implementation efforts need to be expedited to achieve a universally accessible web platform for everyone – regardless of any disabilities.