WCAG 2.0 vs WCAG 2.1

WCAG 2.0 vs WCAG 2.1


Staying on top of web accessibility guidelines can ensure ADA compliance

Website accessibility lawsuits are back on the rise. Higher education and K12 educational institutions have had to accelerate their online-learning programs. The online retail and restaurant businesses are booming more than ever with many having to adjust business models to simply survive in a COVID-19 world. Government services and information have never had a greater need than during a pandemic to be accessible. And people with disabilities need the ability to safely access goods, services, and information digitally as to not risk unnecessary exposure to the coronavirus. As if web accessibility wasn’t daunting enough, there can often be confusion between the different levels of WCAG, how it relates to your organization’s compliance and what it ultimately means to a viable accessibility plan! Retailers, banking institutions, health systems, and governments need to be aware of these differences to serve all customers and protect their organization from potential litigation.


What is WCAG?  

 Gold standard symbol

The WCAG guidelines are the internationally recognized, gold standard for creating digitally accessible content. This framework offers companies and governments a strong foundation for delivering digital accessibility and has been around since 1999.  

The Department of Justice has recognized the WCAG guidelines as solutions in various consent decrees with private companies. WCAG is also recognized as accessibility guidance in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 508) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Most recently, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) is being updated to incorporate the Revised 508 Standards for acquisitions of information and communications technology (“ICT”). The European Union, United Nations, and Canada, and others around world all recognize WCAG guidelines. Periodically, the web accessibility guidelines are updated to keep pace with modern technology.

Remember, digital accessibility is the ability of a website, mobile application, or electronic document to be easily navigated and understood by all users of varied abilities, including those who have visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive disabilities.


What are the most recent WCAG 2.1 updates?

DecorativeWhile there are 17 total updates, the following information provides those specific to likely affect websites for level A and AA compliance. Of importance, the updates to do not replace or supersede previous WCAG 2.0.  Rather, the WCAG 2.1 guidelines add new success criteria for accessibility. WCAG is additive. For the full list of changes and further explanation, visit the W3C website.

Level A Criteria includes: 

  • Character Key Shortcuts
  • Pointer Gestures
  • Pointer Cancellation
  • Label in Name
  • Motion Actuation



Level AA Criteria includes:

  • Orientation
  • Identify Input Purpose
  • Reflow
  • Non-text Contrast
  • Text Spacing
  • Content on Hover or Focus
  • Status Messages

How do I know if my website follows WCAG 2.1?

We know that implementing and maintaining a website that is ADA and WCAG compliant can seem overwhelming. Via an accessibility audit, User1st can provide a roadmap for your website to meet the main principles behind WCAG 2.1 and help you understand how they apply to your website and digital assets.

Is your website PERCEIVABLE?   Decorative

DecorativeIs your website OPERABLE?

 Is your website UNDERSTANDABLE?    Decorative


Decorative   Is your website ROBUST?


You can receive an initial, free automated scan to understand your baseline. However, we do recommend our complete audit service which includes both automated and manual scans for you to meet all WCAG guidelines.

If you don’t have a web dev team on staff, don’t worry! We partner with you to provide you the most powerful software and services solutions to meet ADA compliance and WCAG guidelines.


Contact an Accessibility Specialist


Written by Raegan Bartlo