24. What is new in WCAG 3.0

5 February 2021

W3CG announced the first public working draft [FPWD] 3.0. This is one of the most ambitious projects. In this blog I will share about:

  1. Timelines
  2. What is 3.0
  3. Why
  4. 2x vs 3.0
  5. What's Next


1.01st Verison1998Write Accessibile HTML
2.0Public draft2001HTML, Flash, Director, and more. Any document on digital to make accessible
2.0Recommendation2008HTML, Flash, Director, and more. Any document on digital to make accessible
2.1Public draftFeb 2017Focus on cognitive disabilities, low vision, and accessibility of mobile devices.
2.1RecommendationFeb 2018Focus on cognitive disabilities, low vision, and accessibility of mobile devices.
2.2Public DraftFeb 2020Focus on testing
2.2RecommendationSomewhere 2021Focus on testing
3.0Public Draft2020Gaps on 2.x

What is WCAG 3.0

WCAG 3.0 is also known as project 'silver'. The name comes from 'accessibility guidelines' (AG), the chemical symbol of AG is 'silver'.Hence, project 'Silver'. IN 2016, a team 'Silver task force' is set up to research and do development of the new version of accessibility guidelines.

The research focused on what is missing from 2.X. This results in requirements of Silver document

WCAG3.0 is a complete rewrite of the previous guidelines to embrace smart devices such as smart tv, smartwatches, etc. as well as easy to understand and support more disabilities.


Version 1.0 got released in 1998. The first-ever document for web accessibility to help web developers to write accessible HTML. Since then there were a few updates to meet the ever-changing environment which introduce us to the 2.X series.

3.0 is a complete re-write of the 2.x. The reason for introducing the 3.0 is to:

1) Easy: Easier to understand and learn the guidelines

2) Support to more disability: Allow different types of guidelines to support more disability needs.

3) Flexibility: Provide more flexibility for the guidelines to keep up with the new technologies

4) Better Measurement: Have conformance to guidelines better reflect real-world accessibility, including making allowances for bugs and other low-impact issues.

WCAG 3.0 the word 'web content' removed from the name because WCAG 3.0 promised to be a more all-encompassing set of guidelines for digital content eg: VR, and other devices such as smartphones, TVs, etc.

What WCAG 3.0 have?

WCAG 3 is substantially different from the WCAG 2.x series. Below are the changes WCAG 3.0 introduced:

1) Principles

Principles from the WCAG 3.0 is dropped.

2) Outcomes

An outcome in WCAG 3.0 is a statement about the need of certain users for specific types of content. Outcomes are not true or false like in 2.x's success criteria. However, outcomes are the score based from 0 (poor) to 4 (excellent). These scores can then be combined with the scores of other outcomes to determine the level of accessibility. This allows for a website to have some issues while still meeting a level of conformance.

3) Critical Errors

In addition to a rating, each outcome defines what is considered a critical error for that outcome. For example, a critical error for text alternatives of images is images without a text alternative which prevent a user from completing a task. A website can have a small number of accessibility errors, but if it has any critical errors it does not conform to WCAG 3.0 at any level.

4) Methods

Each outcome includes one or more methods. There are 3 types of methods. The methods include detailed information on how to meet the outcome, code samples, working examples, resources, as well as information about testing and scoring the method.

1) All: Methods that apply across all technologies.

2) Technology Specific: Methods that apply to one of a predetermined list of technologies such as HTML, PDF, or VR. When technology-specific methods are provided, the outcomes will also include one or more fallback methods.

3) Fallback: Methods that apply to emerging or proprietary technology and for technology that does not yet have a method written

5) Conformance Levels

Instead of using levels A, AA, and AAA, WCAG 3.0 has the conformance levels bronze, silver, and gold. Bronze is equivalent to level A + AA of WCAG 2.1.

2.x vs 3.0

LevelA, AA, AAABronze, Silver, Gold
Success criteriaSuccess CriteriaOutcomes
Non-interference requirementsNon-interference requirementsCritical Errors

What's next

The goal of the WCAG 3.0 working draft is to get feedback from the community. WCAG 3.0 is still very new and it is in the draft. It will be ready by 2023. As of now, it is not recommended to move to 3.0 at all.

Credits: WC3 website

Questions? You can reach me at Twitter

Happy learning!!

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