January 2021 – On January 21st, W3C published its first working draft of the W3C Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 3.0. The guidelines provide recommendations for making web content more accessible to users with disabilities. They help address the needs of users with vision impairments, deafness or hearing loss, limited movement and agility, speech disabilities, sensory disorders, cognitive and learning disabilities, and combinations of these. The guidelines cover various web content types, including static content, interactive content, visual and auditory media, and virtual and augmented reality. They also address related web tools such as user agents (browsers and assistive technologies), content management systems, authoring tools, and testing tools.
Each guideline provides information on accessibility practices that address well-documented user needs of people with disabilities. Each guideline is also tied to outcomes, discussing critical errors and outcome scoring to determine whether the user need has been met. Guidelines are also supported by technology-specific methods to meet each outcome. While WCAG 2 success criteria can be moved to WCAG 3 with minimal changes, there have been updates to the testing and scoring methods. Thus, WCAG 3 proposes a different name, scope, structure, and conformance model from WCAG 2. It is intended to be easier to understand and more flexible than WCAG 2. The flexibility is intended to address different types of web content, apps, and tools, as well as include a broader range of persons with disabilities. Importantly, WCAG 3.0 is not backward compatible with WCAG 2. That means WCAG 3.0 does not supersede WCAG 2.2 and previous versions; it is an alternative set of guidelines. Once these guidelines become a W3C Recommendation, the W3C will advise creators to use WCAG 3.0 for maximum effect.
This First Public Working Draft is an early-stage draft, published to obtain a review of the direction proposed. The Working Group is seeking input on the flexible conformance approach, the ease of shifting from WCAG 2 to WCAG 3, and usability, among other questions. Extensive review questions can be found in the blog post WCAG 3 FPWD Published. The public is encouraged to file an issue in the W3C silver GitHub repository to leave feedback, filing each comment as a separate issue. Alternately, comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Working Group has requested comments on this draft by 26 February 2021. [Source: W3C]