As a co-chair of the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AGWG), I often read social media posts about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) with concern. There is a lot of misunderstanding and miscommunication about the AGWG standards process:
- How fast it can be done,
- Where we are in any given process,
- How to contribute, and
- When it is best to adopt.
In an effort to clarify, I will periodically post updates here on LinkedIn.
A few notes:
- These posts present my perspective as a co-chair. They are not official W3C statements.
- Please keep the tone of comments professional. I will delete unkind posts on threads to ensure that the most people possible can read the conversation without experiencing anxiety.
The AGWG is finalizing the contents of WCAG 2.2 and preparing to send it to implementation testing and into the final review stages. All new success criteria must be shown to work in live websites in order to move forward. The implementation process typically takes a few months. There are additional review stages by the W3C that also require a few months. We expect WCAG 2.2 to be available later this year.
We are running behind our original schedule for a few reasons. First, because the success criteria that were not included in 2.0 and 2.1 were often left out because they were difficult to define well. Many of the new success criteria in 2.2 have a number of edge cases that need to be addressed and that takes a lot of testing and careful wording. Second, we received a lot of excellent feedback in our second wide review. We value public feedback and this takes time to work through. Third, we are working on two specifications at the same time (WCAG 2.2 and WCAG 3) – there are only so many hours in a day.
WCAG 3 is still in its early stages. I can’t stress this enough. We published a first public working draft and received excellent feedback. As a result, we are reworking much of the approach included in that first draft. The draft guidelines are included as demonstrations and to get feedback. At any time they may be changed or removed. This includes the color contrast SC.
To help clarify what stage content is in, we are adding markup to the drafts:
- Placeholder: This content is temporary, it showcases the type of content or section to expect here. All of this is expected to be replaced. No feedback is needed on placeholder content.
- Exploratory: The working group is exploring what direction to take with this section. This content is not refined, details and definitions may be missing. Feedback should be about the proposed direction.
- Developing: There is rough agreement on what is needed for this section, although not all high-level concerns have been settled. Details have been filled, but are yet to be worked out. Feedback should be focused on ensuring the sections are usable and reasonable in a broad sense.
- Refining: The working group has reach consensus on this section. It is ready for broad public review and experimental adoption. Feedback should be focused on the feasibility and implementability.
- Mature: Content is believed by the working group to be ready for recommendation. Feedback should be focused on edge case scenarios the working group may not have anticipated.
This markup is in the editor’s draft but not yet in the working draft. Please note that nothing in WCAG 3 is higher than exploratory right now. I will discuss drafts and how best to monitor and contribute to them in a future article.
WCAG 3 will not be available for at least 4 years. There will be many opportunities to provide feedback during that time and I will announce those opportunities here. If you see different information, please encourage the poster to refer back here.
I will be posting additional resources and information in the future.