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GDS highlights updates to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

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The Government Digital Service (GDS) has published details of a series of changes in the pipeline for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for the public sector.

It has indicated that the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative plans to publish the new version, WCAG 2.2, early this year to support service teams designing web systems, and in anticipation of government-wide monitoring of the criteria from early next year.

All UK public sector bodies are required to meet the WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility standard, and the guidelines are particularly relevant to web content and services running on the GOV.UK platform.

GDS has published a guide to what is new in WCAG 2.2, taking in new criteria and updates to some already in place. These are designed to help web users with low vision, cognitive and learning disabilities, and problems with mobile accessibility.

Additional updates

GDS senior accessibility specialist David Cox and technical write Claire Ashworth, said in a blogpost that after the publication of WCAG 2.2 the team plans to release updates through the GOV.UK Frontend repository, update the platform’s Design System and build new components and patterns.

They added that the team is also working on improvements in automated accessibility testing, a standardised approach to manual testing, more usability testing and the provision of better documentation. The latter will include more co-ordinated and consistent record keeping.

“We’re excited to continue improving accessibility within the GOV.UK Design System, with a new strategy to keep it all coordinated,” they said. “We have a list of 16 accessibility activities which we’re hoping to make good progress on over the next 12 months.”

Amended on 10.1.23 to reflect that W3C Web Accessibility Initiative publishes the guidelines

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