WCAG Checklist 2.1 AA and 2.2 AA

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Below you will find downloadable PDF checklists for WCAG 2.1 and 2.2 along with the text version of each checklist on this page.

Written in plain English, Kris Rivenburgh explains the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) in easy to understand terms, with examples and illustrations to help readers learn each WCAG success criterion.

Kris provides two PDF documents for learning WCAG: a checklist and a full guide.

The checklist PDFs contain quick summaries for each WCAG success criterion. The guides greatly expand upon the checklists to provide fuller, more detailed explanations.

WCAG conformance is a best practice for compliance with the law.

WCAG 2.1 AA

PDFs

WCAG 2.1 AA Checklist (PDF)

WCAG 2.1 AA Guide (PDF)

Note that WCAG 2.1 AA includes WCAG 2.0 AA (38 success criteria) + 12 additional AA success criteria added in version 2.1 for a total of 50 success criteria or requirements.

Each PDF contains important disclaimers, copyright, and attribution information.

WCAG 2.0 AA Success Criteria

Alt text (1.1.1): All images and non-text content that conveys necessary meaning or
information needs a text alternative. (Developer, Content Editor)

Video & Audio alternatives (1.2.1): All video-only and audio-only content has a text
transcript. Transcripts are clearly labeled and available near the media. (Content
Editor)

Closed captioning (1.2.2): All video with sound has closed captioning. (Content Editor)

Audio description (1.2.3): For any video where meaningful information is not available
audibly, add a transcript or an audio description describing that information. (Content
Editor)

Live captions (1.2.4): More formal, live presentations must have closed captions.
(Content Editor)

Audio description (1.2.5): An audio description is optional under 1.2.3 level A but not in
1.2.5 AA. The best route is to provide both a transcript (optional) and an audio
description but the audio description is required. (Content Editor)
Section 2: Presentation

Website structure (1.3.1): Use proper HTML markup techniques to structure your
website’s content so that meaning and information presented visually and audibly is
available programmatically. (Developer, Content Editor)

Meaningful order (1.3.2): Present content in a meaningful order and sequence so that it
reads properly. (Developer)

Sensory characteristics (1.3.3): When providing detailed instructions, make it so they
aren’t reliant on a single sensory ability. (Content Editor)

Use of color (1.4.1): Do not rely on color alone to convey information. (Designer,
Content Editor)

Audio control (1.4.2): Any audio must be able to be paused, stopped, or muted.
(Developer)

Color contrast (1.4.3): There must be a color contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 between
regular text and background and 3:1 for large text. (Designer)

Text resize (1.4.4): Text must be able to be resized up to 200% without negatively
affecting the ability to read content or use functions. (Designer)

Images of text (1.4.5): Do not use images of text unless necessary (e.g., logo).
(Designer, Content Editor)

Keyboard only (2.1.1): All functionality on a website must be accessible by keyboard
only (i.e., no mouse). (Developer)

No keyboard trap (2.1.2): Keyboard-only users must never get stuck on any part of the
website; they must be able to navigate forwards and backwards. (Developer)

Adjustable time (2.2.1): If there any time limits on a website, users have the ability to
turn it off, adjust it, extend it. (Developer)

Pause, stop, hide (2.2.2): If there is content that blinks, scrolls, moves, users must
have the ability to pause, stop, or hide it. (Designer, Developer, Content Editor)

Three flashes or below (2.3.1): Web pages do not contain anything that flashes more
than three times in any one second period. (Designer, Content Editor)

Bypass Blocks (2.4.1): A “Skip to Content” or “Skip Navigation” link allows users to
bypass the header / menu and go straight to the main content. Other mechanisms to
bypass blocks include headings and landmarks. (Developer, Designer)

Page titles (2.4.2): Each page of a website needs to have a unique and descriptive
page title. (Content Editor)

Focus order (2.4.3): Users must be able to navigate through a website in a logical,
sequential order that preserves meaning. (Developer)

Link anchor text (2.4.4): The purpose of each link should be clear based on its anchor
text (e.g., don’t use “click here”, etc.). (Content Editor)

Multiple ways (2.4.5): There are multiple ways to access content/pages on a website
(e.g., search bar, nav menus, sitemap, breadcrumbs, etc.). (Designer)

Descriptive headings and labels (2.4.6): Headings and labels must be clear and
descriptive. They do not need to be lengthy. (Content Editor)

Focus indicator (2.4.7): Any “user interface control” that receives focus from a
keyboard user should have a focus indicator that indicates that focus visually.
(Designer)

Website language (3.1.1): Set the language for your website. (Developer)

Language changes (3.1.2): Indicate any language changes for an entire page or within
the content. (Content Editor)

No focus change (3.2.1): No context changes and nothing is activated merely because
an item receives focus. (Developer, Designer)

No input change (3.2.2): User interface changes or actions shouldn’t automatically
occur due to input (e.g., form doesn’t auto submit once all fields are filled out).
(Developer)

Consistent navigation (3.2.3): Keep navigation links / layout consistent throughout all
pages of the website (e.g., links remain in same relative order). (Designer)

Consistent identification (3.2.4): Components that have the same function within a
website are identified consistently (but not necessarily identically). (Developer,
Designer)

Error identification (3.3.1): Make any form errors easy to identify, understand, and
correct. (Developer, Designer)

Form labels and instructions (3.3.2): Provide clear visual and programmatic labels or
instructions for user input fields, ensuring users understand what information is
required and how to input it. (Developer)

Error suggestions (3.3.3): If an input error is automatically detected, then suggestions
for correcting the error should be provided. (Developer)

Error prevention on important forms (3.3.4): For pages that create legal commitments
or financial transactions or any other important data submissions, one of the following
is true: 1) submissions are reversible, 2) the user has an opportunity to correct errors,
and 3) confirmation is available that allows an opportunity to review and correct before
submission. (Developer)

Parsing (4.1.1): Make sure HTML code is clean and free of errors, particularly missing
bracket closes. Also, make sure all HTML elements are properly nested. (Developer)

Name, role, value (4.1.2): For all user interface components (including forms, links,
components generated by scripts), the name, role, state, and/or value should all be
able to be programmatically determined. (Developer)

WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criteria

Note: 2.1 AA includes all of the preceding 2.0 AA success criteria plus the success
criteria below. 6 new success criteria were added in the 2.1 AA release.

Orientation (1.3.4): Your website does not lock on portrait or landscape mode, unless
necessary. (Developer)

Input (1.3.5): The purpose of an input element can be determined so browsers and
assistive technology can help guide and facilitate inputting information (e.g., provide
autocomplete option). (Developer)

Reflow (1.4.10): Ensure someone can zoom in on your website without requiring
scrolling or causing poor experience. (Designer)

Non-text contrast (1.4.11): All meaningful non-text content (e.g., buttons, form fields,
icons, etc.) on your website should have a minimum 3:1 color contrast ratio to ensure
they stand out. (Designer)

Text spacing (1.4.12): Make sure your text spacing can be adjusted without causing a
poor experience. (Designer)

Content on hover or focus (1.4.13): Make it so any additional content (e.g., pop-ups,
submenus) can be dismissed or remain visible if the user desires. (Designer,
Developer)

Keyboard shortcuts (2.1.4): If you have a keyboard shortcut, make sure a user can
either 1) turn it off, 2) there’s a way to add another key in the shortcut, and/or 3) have
the shortcut only active while focusing on a specific component. (Developer)

Pointer gestures (2.5.1): Provide simple alternatives (e.g., single tap vs. swipe) to
potentially complex finger motions on touch screens. (Developer)

Pointer cancellation (2.5.2): Provide a way to cancel the trigger action when you
activate a function using a mouse or press /touch with your finger. (Developer)

Label in Name (2.5.3): Make sure any programmatic labels you make are aligned with
the corresponding visual text. (Developer)

Motion Actuation (2.5.4): For any functions that are activated by motion, provide a
simpler, alternative means of action. Also, give users the option to turn off motion
activation. (Developer)

Status Messages (4.1.3): When a status message appears, it should be coded with
role or properties so that people using assistive technologies (e.g., screen readers) are
alerted without losing focus. (Developer)

WCAG 2.2 AA

PDFs

WCAG 2.2 AA Checklist (PDF)

WCAG 2.2 AA Guide (PDF)

Each PDF contains important disclaimers, copyright, and attribution information.

WCAG 2.2 AA Success Criteria

Focused Elements are Visible (2.4.11): When an element receives focus, the focus /
focused element is not entirely hidden or blocked by other content or elements such as
sticky headers or footers or footers.

Dragging Movements (2.5.7): For any functions that require a dragging movement,
provide an alternative where someone only needs to a single point (click a mouse or
touch with a finger or stylus) to select an item and place it elsewhere. This success
criterion is not concerned with keyboard navigability but, rather, for the ability for
someone to use a single point to accomplish the same ability to drag something.

Target Size (Minimum) (2.5.8): Make the target size for interactive elements at least
24 by 24 CSS pixels. Exceptions are when the target and the combined space around
it take up 24 by 24 pixels, when there is another control that does meet size
requirements and accomplishes the same thing, the target size is determined by the
user, the target is a text link in a sentence or list, and/or the target spacing is essential.

Help Options Consistent (3.2.6): Whenever you have options for help (e.g., support
link, contact information, chatbot, etc.) that are repeated on multiple pages of your
website, those options should remain consistent and predictable in their order and
placement on those pages so users can easily locate help.

Redundant Entry (3.3.7): Information that has already been entered by the user and is
required again, in the same session, is either auto-populated or selectable except
when re-entering the information is essential or previously entered information is no
longer valid.

Accessible Authentication (3.3.8): Users do not have to login by remembering a
password or solving a cognitive test unless one of the following exceptions are met:
another authentication method that does not rely on a cognitive function test exists,
there is a mechanism available to assist the user in completing the cognitive function
test, the cognitive function test is limited to recognizing objects, the cognitive function
test is to identify non-text content the user provided to the website. (Note: there are
many ways to login with a password without the need to memorize the password.)

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  • Curated resources
  • Sortable Excel spreadsheet checklist
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wcag checklist in excel spreadsheet format with columns for action and role

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What is WCAG?

Blind man in front of computer.

WCAG stands for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. These guidelines are technical standards for web accessibility that bring about consistency and uniformity on how we make web content accessible.

There are multiple versions and conformance levels of WCAG. The versions are:

  • 1.0
  • 2.0
  • 2.1
  • 2.2

Think of 2.0 as the classic standard. It was released in 2008. 2.0 establishes a solid baseline for accessibility.

2.1 was released in 2018 and added additional considerations for the increase in mobile device usage.

2.2 is now the current version and was only just released in October 2023.

No matter which version, each is comprised of different success criteria or requirements for conformance that are categorized under different conformance levels.

The conformance levels are:

  • A
  • AA
  • AAA

Level A criteria lay the essential foundation for accessible content. Level AA criteria are also extremely important and build upon the Level A foundation. Level AAA criteria adhere to the most rigorous standards, offering the highest level of accessibility.

WCAG is frequently cited around the world and while WCAG is never the law, it has been incorporated into several laws including Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and the European Accessibility Act.

WCAG is also commonly referenced in website accessibility litigation centered around the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Success Criteria

Think of success criteria as things you can do to improve accessibility. Many people are familiar with accessibility considerations such as:

  • alternative text
  • form field labels
  • keyboard navigability
  • color contrast
  • zoom
  • skip link
  • page regions

And many more.

These considerations are a part of the fabric of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Some are essentially success criteria themselves while others may be considered sufficient techniques for conformance or advisory techniques that enhance or optimize accessibility.

Digital Accessibility

Although WCAG is specifically for web assets (they are literally the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), the principles and concepts that comprise WCAG apply to all digital assets including mobile apps, software, virtual applications, platforms, and more.

Compliance

WCAG has been incorporated into many laws across the world and even where WCAG is not adopted, full WCAG 2.1 AA conformance is always a best practice.

Laws that have incorporated WCAG include:

  • Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • Colorado HB21-1110
  • EN 301 549
  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Live WCAG Training and Workshops

If you have a question about WCAG, would like to set up a live training presentation or workshop for your organization, feel free to contact us. We’d love to help your digital team learn about the fundamentals of accessibility.

Visit the Accessible.org homepage to learn more about our done-for-you approach to website accessibility and ADA compliance.