I wish parts of WCAG AAA would become AA

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Sometimes when I audit webpages and mobile apps I really wish that parts of WCAG AAA would just become AA, to improve the user experience and to make things better for more users.

I guess people into accessibility understand the title here, but maybe some of you are fresh to the field and don’t quite get it. And as we are approaching Christmas, I think I am entitled to a wish or two.

Commonly accessibility requirements and legislation stop at level AA. Heck, most websites and applications struggle even with conformance to WCAG level A, so even wishing for AA to be wider is still a very valid Christmas wish.

But there are some WCAG level AAA criteria that I would really wish to become AA, to make things better for users. Even if conforming to AAA doesn’t really guarantee webpage, document or app will be accessible to people with all types, combinations and variations of disabilities it would for sure help a bit.

  • 1.4.6 Contrast (Enhanced) would maybe make some designers a bit mad, but helped a lot of people with poor vision. With populations growing older this would be a big benefit, I am certain.
  • 1.4.7 Low Or No Background Audio is a thing that I personally miss sometimes. There is nothing worse than background noises interrupting speech in the foreground and I really wish content producers would make sure the message gets out, not the fancy effects behind it.
  • 2.2.4 Interruptions is also a thing on my wish list as I just hate it when I scroll the page to find the information I was looking for just to be met with multiple pop-up and modal windows to click away.
  • 2.2.5 Re-authenticating is something I consider as a good user experience for everybody. Being able to continue where I left after I login is beneficial for everybody and should just be a common practice in all solutions.
  • 2.2.6 Timeouts is similarly best practice for me – I don’t want to loose data if I need to abandon my shopping cart or some form, this should just work for all of us.
  • 2.4.8 Location also helps everybody when we have to navigate a large website. At least having breadcrumbs helps me to find around.
  • 2.4.9 Link Purpose (Link Only) is not only best practice for screen-reader users but benefits also voice control users and Google loves it as well. Links that are understandable by themselves are something I advocate for every day.
  • 2.4.13 Focus Appearance should also be on level AA as it’s really beneficial for keyboard users. Sometimes native browsers focus outline is invisible on some designs and that is just poor design in my book. Make focus outlines visible for keyboard users!
  • 2.5.5 Target Size is basically listening to advice from mobile phone producers to make their device usable. Large targets help most of population, so this one is for sure on my wish list.
  • 3.1.3 Unusual Words would almost always benefit mechanism that reveals their meaning for people not familiar with them. Otherwise we need to leave the page and find the definition that may or may not be the same author wanted it to be…
  • 3.1.4 Abbreviations is similar to 3.1.3 and some abbreviations really don’t make sense somewhere but some still do. So author provided expanded form is again beneficial.
  • 3.1.5 Reading Level is slowly getting promoted with lots of governments and I don’t see any reasons why it shouldn’t be even more used. Maybe even on AA level.

Now, hopefully, you can understand how some WCAG AAA level success criteria are valuable to way many people that we would expect. Is it viable to make all of them required for existing AA requirements? Well, it would just make digital products even less conformant and some people will just complain more.

But as far as it goes for end users I am still wishing more of products would reach out to AAA, when they are covering A and AA, of course. I guess it depends on accessibility maturity and what groups of people services target, as more and more services do reach out to AAA, and there are actually no good reasons why they shouldn’t.

Before AAA is adopted by more organizations we need to make sure A and AA are certainly the baseline and it seems that it will unfortunately take more time. I am happy to see more is done on the awareness part and finally WCAG is becoming more main stream, so let’s just work on awareness and making our products more accessible and with time AAA will be more popular as well.

Author: Bogdan Cerovac

I am IAAP certified Web Accessibility Specialist (from 2020) and was Google certified Mobile Web Specialist.

Work as digital agency co-owner web developer and accessibility lead.

Sole entrepreneur behind IDEA-lab Cerovac (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility lab) after work. Check out my Accessibility Services if you want me to help your with digital accessibility.

Also head of the expert council at Institute for Digital Accessibility A11Y.si (in Slovenian).

Living and working in Norway (🇳🇴), originally from Slovenia (🇸🇮), loves exploring the globe (🌐).

Nurturing the web from 1999, this blog from 2019.

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