Skip to main content

Changes in Web Accessibility Standards and Siteimprove

Related services: Siteimprove, Web Accessibility


Web accessibility continues to be a top priority at Cornell University. If you are involved with university websites in any way, or supervise individuals who are, please note these upcoming changes:

  1. The university compliance standard for web accessibility is changing to WCAG 2.1 Level AA. Websites are expected to be compliant by December 1, 2022.
  2. Siteimprove will be updated to use Accessibility NextGen on August 1, 2021. This update will change compliance scores and websites may require additional remediation.
  3. University Policy 5.12, Web Accessibility Standards, will be updated to state that Cornell adheres to the latest version of WCAG. Timing to be determined.
  4. The next set of university websites to be remediated as part of the Cornell’s Top Sites Web Accessibility Initiative have been identified. Remediation is expected to be complete by December 1, 2022.

Details for each change are provided below. If your websites will need remediation beyond what your website staff can do, please email CIT’s Custom Development team to explore options. If you are concerned about the December 1, 2022, compliance deadline, please email the Web Accessibility team.

WCAG 2.1

The university standard for web accessibility compliance is changing from WCAG 2.0 Level AA to WCAG 2.1 Level AA, effective August 1, 2021. WCAG 2.1 includes new criteria to address mobile and tablet use, and to better meet the needs of people with low vision and people with cognitive and learning disabilities. University websites are expected to be in compliance within 16 months, by December 1, 2022.

WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and is the international standard for making web content more accessible to people with disabilities. WCAG is developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Siteimprove Accessibility NextGen

Siteimprove, the tool used at Cornell to check for web accessibility issues, will be updated to use Accessibility NextGen on August 1, 2021. This update will cause the compliance scores for all university websites to change. Many websites will require some remediation to achieve WCAG AA compliance.

Siteimprove’s Accessibility NextGen includes:

  • WCAG 2.1 standards
  • A new Site Target tool
  • A new way of scoring compliance

Siteimprove users are encouraged to review Siteimprove’s information about NextGen (login required).

Once the August 1 update has happened, Siteimprove users should check their websites’ compliance scores using the new Site Target tool and plan for remediation as needed. Set WCAG conformance to level AA. The Best Practices categories are optional but strongly encouraged.

Please note: You can choose to start using NextGen before August 1. It is already available as a second option in the Accessibility tab. Look for Accessibility NextGen with a “new” indicator.

Update to University Policy 5.12, Web Accessibility Standards

University Policy 5.12 will be updated to state that Cornell adheres to the latest version of WCAG, instead of specifying a version. Timing will be coordinated with the University Policy Office.

Phase 2 of Top Sites Web Accessibility Initiative

The next set of university websites to be remediated as part of the Cornell’s Top Sites Web Accessibility Initiative has been identified. CIT is engaging the vice presidents and other leaders to raise awareness and will organize kickoff meetings with the key stakeholders in late summer/early fall. Remediation is expected to be complete by December 1, 2022.

Was this page helpful?

Your feedback helps improve the site.

Comments?