As a team of SME’s who live with disabilities, the new WCAG 3.0, released for public comment in January, gives us a lot to like. This article doesn’t list everything, but it will give you an idea about the renewed approach 3.0 is taking. This makes more sense to us, both as users with disabilities, and as digital experts who test for and teach accessibility every day.
What We Like About WCAG 3.0 Plain Language
Plain language is a big WIN all the way around for the latest WCAG version. Every report we issue for clients at WeCo, have, from day one, been written so that anyone from any level in an organization could read them. Partly because guidance from trusted sources, like the W3C, aren’t always easy for accessibility beginners, and non-technical staff, to understand. We like the idea of having to translate WCAG less for our clients and can now instead focus more on the work of accessibility. Thanks, W3C!
What We Like About 3.0 Guidelines Organized by Topic
WeCo’s Accessibility Team has long understood the benefits that topic-focused reporting can provide to our clients. This is because most of us do not look at accessibility as a list of guidelines we’re trying to achieve, but rather a list of user needs we’re trying to fulfill. Those needs spell themselves out in practical actions and ways websites and products work for people. Topic-organized guidelines mean less digging for the criteria and more time spent on achieving the accessibility objective.
Outcomes: Focusing on what you want to happen
No person we’ve ever encountered responded better to the “stick” as opposed to the “carrot.” At WeCo, our teaching, and even our marketing approach, is designed to be “honey” to attract people towards attainable accessibility, instead of frightening them into legal compliance. So that might explain why we are so excited about this outcome focused approach to the latest WCAG.
Each guideline in 3.0 provides multiple outcomes that focus on reducing/eliminating barriers for users with disabilities. Let’s look at the break down on a few of these:
- Outcomes are testable criteria and include an optional Conformance Claim.
Testing is the only way we can be assured that something will work. We’ve been testing for accessibility at WeCo since inception. To achieve this, we created our own testing algorithms and processes for WCAG. It is wonderful to see testable criteria included in 3.0!Conformance Claims are also a welcome addition to 3.0. WeCo has always taken a hard stance against handing out “legal compliance” certificates. Why? Because only a court of law can determine compliance with the law. A properly documented testing process that indicates criteria have been met, achieves the same documentation goal (WeCo reports are routinely used in court) without being misleading about making a “legal compliance” determination. A conformance claim with testable criteria does this too, without misleading organizations into thinking they are immune from lawsuits because they possess a piece of paper. (Both can be amplified further with an Accessibility Policy or Statement.)
- Critical Errors: Understanding negative outcomes users may experience, is an essential part of mastering the accessibility learning curve. “Critical errors,” are things that that stop users from accessing a view or completing a process. Some error examples include flashing graphics on a page, keyboard traps, incorrect tab order in a form or too much text or dense language making comprehension difficult. Think of all the time and money that can be saved when teams understand these hurdles from the outset!
We hope this article inspires you to be excited about the up-and-coming WCAG 3.0, and to put faith in what our collective efforts can achieve. We wish to thank the W3C for the work on this draft and encourage you to read and comment on the working draft at: https://www.w3.org/TR/wcag-3.0/
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