Changes to the Design System to meet WCAG 2.2

W3C owns and manages the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2.

In 2023, the Design System team assessed and updated the GOV.UK Design System to comply with the new criteria and recommendations given in WCAG 2.2.

We included code changes in GOV.UK Frontend v5.0.0 to make it easier for services to make changes to comply with WCAG 2.2. We also added guidance to make teams aware of the changes and help them make necessary adjustments to their services.

Make sure your service meets the new WCAG 2.2 criteria

WCAG 2.2 was published in October 2023. You’ll need to comply with the new criteria no later than October 2024. See more about Meeting government accessibility requirements in the GOV.UK Service Manual.

What you need to do

  1. Revisit the Government Digital Service (GDS) guidance on what accessibility is and why your service needs to invest in it
  2. Read What’s new in WCAG 2.2 to understand the new criteria your service will need to comply with
  3. Ask your wider organisation for support to prepare for work needed to meet WCAG 2.2
  4. Update your service to use GOV.UK Frontend v5.0.0 or later, to make it easier to make changes in your service
  5. Review the lists on this page of affected components and patterns in the Design System
  6. Assess your service to see how many affected components and patterns are in use
  7. Plan and implement the changes needed to your service

Make sure there’s expertise within your organisation by advocating for people to receive training in accessibility. To provide some help with this, the Design System team is organising community events to help service teams share information with each other.

Components and patterns affected in the Design System

We’ve made changes to these components and patterns to comply with WCAG 2.2 level AA. You must check if your service needs amending to align with these changes.

See an explanation of every success criteria in WCAG 2.2 on the W3C website.

Images also includes guidance to help ensure icons and images in your service meet Target Size (minimum).

Component Relevant WCAG 2.2 criteria
Back link Redundant entry
Target size (minimum)
Breadcrumbs Target size (minimum)
Button Target size (minimum)
Cookie banner Focus not obscured (minimum)
Target size (minimum)
Error message Redundant entry
File upload Dragging movements
Redundant entry
Footer Consistent help
Header Focus not obscured (Minimum)
Consistent help
Phase banner Focus not obscured (minimum)
Select Dragging movements
Summary list Redundant entry
Target size (minimum)
Tag Dragging movements
Patterns to ask users for information
Ask users for… Relevant WCAG 2.2 criteria
Addresses Redundant entry
Bank details Redundant entry
Email addresses Redundant entry
Equality information Redundant entry
Names Redundant entry
National Insurance Numbers Redundant entry
Passwords Accessible authentication
Consistent help
Target size (minimum)
Payment card details Target size (minimum)
Patterns to help users do things
Help users to… Relevant WCAG 2.2 criteria
Check a service is suitable Redundant entry
Check answers Redundant entry
Complete multiple tasks Dragging movements
Redundant entry
Confirm a phone number Consistent help
Confirm an email address Accessible authentication
Contact a department or service team Consistent help
Create accounts Accessible authentication
Redundant entry
Recover from validation errors Redundant entry
Page patterns
Page Relevant WCAG 2.2 criteria
Page not found pages Consistent help
Question pages Dragging movements
Redundant entry
Service unavailable pages Consistent help
There is a problem with the service pages Consistent help
Redundant entry

Need help?

If you’ve got a question about the GOV.UK Design System, contact the team.