Silver! Looking Toward the Future of WCAG 2.1

Girijesh Tripathi- CSM October 1, 2019
In 2016, advances in technological innovation and assistive technologies and a deeper understanding of the needs of people with disabilities drove the World Wide Web Consortium (WC3) to authorize Silver, the temporary name assigned to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 3.0. Silver will address two major issues: 
  • The process of making content and functionality accessible to people with disabilities, including the roles of content authoring, user agent support, and authoring tool support
  • Current technological and cultural web accessibility requirements (WC3 WAI)
A Brief History
The WC3 is responsible for developing international standards for the World Wide Web and its accessibility to people with disabilities. The history of the standards spans several versions:
  • WCAG 1.0 (1999) focused on HTML
  • WCAG 2.0 (2008) focused on four design principles: that content and technology be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust 
  • WCAG 2.1 (2018) covered gaps in 2.0, including web content on desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices and two disability types: low vision and cognitive 
  • Silver (2021) is envisioned to be a set of guidelines that are easy to follow and to implement. A description of goals and mandates follows
Silver Goals
Silver’s goals were outlined at its inception to provide a framework for tracking its successful completion and implementation. These goals point to the changes that render these new accessibility guidelines as inclusive and forward-thinking. The goals are listed below with a brief explanation.
  1. Perspective: to include unrecognized smaller groups of people with disabilities and non-accessibility people such as designers, developers, and testers
  2. Broad communication: to identify ways to broaden its reach
  3. Open communication: to make it easier for two-way communication among channels
  4. Evidence and data: to use data, particularly user data, to drive scope and comment
  5. Lifecycle: to make it easier to maintain and update the guidelines
  6. Scope: to identify and serve underrepresented groups of people with disabilities
  7. Define and engage: to involve more stakeholders
  8. Milestones: to facilitate the efficiency of the process to reach completion in a timely manner
Silver Mandates
As a next-generation initiative, Silver is tasked with providing guidance for a wide range of disabilities. WCAG 2.1 identified a range of accommodations for blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, and combinations of these. Silver will continue to identify groups of underserved and unrecognized people with disabilities. It will also produce guidelines for emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, and the Internet of Things. Additionally, Silver will include technologies that impact accessibility, such as operating systems, authoring tools, browsers, assistive technologies, and web/mobile apps.  
Legal Impact
WCAG compliance is required by many countries, including the United States, India, Australia, Canada, and international organizations. Compliance falls into three levels:  
  • A (must support)
  • AA (should support)
  • AAA (may support)
Identifying the impact of Silver on your digital publishing process and assets now will allow you to make timely changes to your process and legal responsibilities. Magic EdTech consultants are prepared to advise you on the current status of Silver and how it might affect you. Reach out now:  

Girijesh Tripathi- CSM

Accessibility Senior Consultant at Magic Ed Tech, Girijesh is actively engaged in providing consultation for creating accessible products and defining test strategies for testing of new class digital accessibility solutions for education..