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What is WCAG Silver?

W3C Silver

To answer that, we need a little history lesson. Back in 2008, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

Fast forward to 2018. Wow…a lot has changed on the web…live streaming, social media, advanced user interface (UI) design patterns…a lot of changes. The W3C added additional accessibility criteria to keep up with the changing technology thus creating WCAG 2.1.

There is also WCAG 2.2 which is currently in working draft status.

With all the additions and changes made to the WCAG over the years, the W3C determined that a complete overhaul was needed and in late 2016 they put together a task force to begin creating WCAG 3.0. This task force and the project were given the codename Silver.

"Why Silver? Well, WCAG stands for 'Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.'  As the scope of the guidelines has grown beyond just web content, we drop the WC and are left with AG. Ag is the chemical symbol for silver." ~ Accessibility Guidelines 3.

The W3C has since dropped the name "silver" and decided to go with "W3C Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) because of widespread familiarity with the 'WCAG' acronym."

WCAG 3.0 has three primary goals:
  • be easier to understand
  • cover more user needs, including more needs of people with cognitive disabilities
  • be flexible to address different types of web content, apps, tools, and organizations
WCAG 3.0 has similarities and differences from previous versions. The similarities are:
  • the goal is to provide guidance on making web content and apps accessible to people with disabilities
  • it contains fundamental and specific accessibility requirements
WCAG 3.0 differs from previous versions in:
  • its structure
  • its conformance model
  • it covers a broader scope, beyond just web content

When will WCAG 3.0 be released?

The First Public Working Draft of WCAG 3.0 was published on 21 January 2021. Some minor changes were made and published to the Working Draft of December 07, 2021.

The Working Group will focus on the following:
  • refining the structure and conformance model
  • providing updated drafts for review
  • once stable, developing the accessibility requirements (guidelines, outcomes, and support material)
  • providing material to help those wanting to transition to WCAG 3.0; for example, mapping between WCAG 2.X and 3.0 requirements.

"WCAG 3 is not expected to be a completed W3C standard for a few more years. WCAG 3 will not supersede WCAG 2, and WCAG 2 will not be deprecated, for at least several years after WCAG 3 is finalized." ~ WCAG 3 Introduction

To get an idea of what is coming in WCAG 3.0, please take a look at the W3C Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 3.0 Working Draft and if you feel so inclined, peruse the list of issues still open.


Maggie Vaughan, CPACC
Content Marketing Practitioner