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20 May 2024

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has recently released an updated Working Draft of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This latest iteration of WCAG, still in its exploratory phase, aims to build upon the foundations laid by WCAG 2 while introducing new approaches and broader scope to address the evolving landscape of web content, applications, tools, and emerging technologies.

WCAG 3 retains the core objective of facilitating web accessibility for individuals with disability, but it brings forward a revamped structure, a new conformance model, and an expanded set of guidelines to cater to a wider range of user needs, notably including those with cognitive disability.

Key features of the WCAG 3 draft include:

Guidelines and Outcomes: Providing more granular guidance with outcomes and assertions, focusing on the desired results rather than technical specifics.

Draft Conformance Model: A more flexible approach to determine and communicate accessibility levels, aiming to encourage enhanced user experiences.

Development Timeline: With the first public draft released in January 2021, subsequent iterations have incorporated feedback, with updates planned every 3-6 months. The final standard is expected to be several years in the making.

Transition and Coexistence with WCAG 2: While WCAG 3 is envisioned to eventually become a W3C standard, it will not replace WCAG 2 immediately upon finalisation.

The WCAG 3 initiative, formerly known as the “Silver” project, is being led by the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AG WG) under the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). The draft invites stakeholders to contribute their insights and feedback, emphasising collaboration in refining accessibility standards for the digital realm.

As WCAG 3 progresses through development, stakeholders are encouraged to engage in the process by reviewing the draft, providing feedback via GitHub issues or email, and participating in WAI activities to shape the future of web accessibility.

For more information, please read the W3C page on the WCAG 3 Draft update.

For more information, please read the W3C page on the WCAG 3 Draft update.