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WCAG 2.1 Now Reaches Candidate Recommendation Stage - Working Group Begins Gathering Implementation Experience

January 30, 2018

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 is now a Candidate Recommendation (CR). The main purpose of Candidate Recommendation is to ensure that the standard can be implemented. The content is considered stable at this stage, but it it could change a little based on implementation experience.

Over the next few months, the Working Group will gather “implementations” of WCAG 2.1, that is, examples of websites that meet the WCAG 2.1 success criteria. Some success criteria are marked “at risk“, which means that the Working Group is unsure if implementation testing or public review will validate those success criteria for the final guidelines. We especially seek implementation experience and input on these at-risk success criteria.

If you have web pages that you think meet WCAG 2.1 and would be useful to help validate implementability of the guidelines, especially for the newly proposed 2.1 success criteria, please submit them to

Results of the Candidate Recommendation testing will be published in the WCAG 2.1 Implementation Report. Once testing is complete, WCAG 2.1 will be ready for the next stage.

We plan to publish the completed WCAG 2.1 by June 2018.

WCAG 2.1 Focus and Constraints

The focus for WCAG 2.1 has been to:

  • Address more accessibility requirements for:
    • people with cognitive and learning disabilities;
    • people with low vision;
    • mobile accessibility;
  • Meet an ambitious timeline to publish the first Working Draft in February 2017 and complete it by June 2018.

Meeting the timeline is important because there has been a need for updated guidance to be available relatively quickly, and other standards organizations depend on this to support their efforts to harmonize with WCAG.

In addition to the timeline, there are other constraints, including:

  • WCAG requirements must be clear, implementable, technology neutral, objectively testable, and universally applicable.
  • WCAG 2.1 needs to be “backwards compatible” with 2.0, that is, web pages that conform to WCAG 2.1 also conform to WCAG 2.0.

For more information on these requirements, see: Requirements for WCAG 2.1 and guidance on crafting success criteria.

As a dot-release, WCAG 2.1 could not address all issues that have been considered for future guidance, so the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group focused on addressing the most urgent and achievable issues on which they could reach consensus within in the timeline. Many good ideas had to be deferred because the Working Group could not develop solutions that met the WCAG requirements within the timeline. Stakeholders made many compromises to meet the overall goal of producing a useful standard on time. Of the over 70 success criteria initially proposed, 17 are in this Candidate Recommendation. While WCAG 2.1 does not cover all needs, particularly at Level A or AA, the Group is continuing work to address user needs in supporting material and future standards.

Supplemental Guidance and Future Standards

The Working Group hopes to produce supplemental material that provides more guidance on how to meet user needs. It would be “informative,” rather than part of the WCAG 2.1 standard. It could cover issues more thoroughly because it would not be subject to the constraints to be objectively testable, technology neutral, etc.

The Working Group also continues work to include more accessibility requirements in future guidelines. A significant revision to accessibility guidelines is in development, which is code-named “Silver”. This project will take several years. In the interim, the Working Group might decide to follow WCAG 2.1 with a 2.2 version to provide additional updates to address current accessibility requirements.

Source: W3C

Related Information

Accessibility W3C WCAG WCAG 2.1