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WCAG 3.0: Testing and Conformance Levels

WCAG 3.0 Testing and Conformance Levels Explained

WCAG 3.0 Testing and Conformance Levels are very important to measure the accessibility of given media. Whether it is blogs, videos, audio content, etc., WCAG 3.0 lays out the criteria for web content to be accessible.

This blog will delve into the details of the different levels of testing and conformance and, most importantly, how they differ from previous guidelines. Thus, you and your organization must stay up-to-date on the evolving standards of WCAG 3.0. 

Testing under WCAG 3.0

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WCAG 3.0 Guidelines Overview

The testing of accessibility guidelines for WCAG 3.0 is different from previous versions, in that it involves both automated and human evaluation. The two types of tests are atomic tests and holistic tests.

Although content may satisfy all outcomes using the atomic tests, the content may not always be usable by people with a wide variety of disabilities. The holistic tests address this gap by evaluating more of the user experience than atomic testing.

Atomic Tests

Atomic tests evaluate content’s accessibility often at an object level. They can be manual or automatic and look to see whether or not a web page has fulfilled accessibility requirements.

Atomic tests include the existing tests that support A, AA, and AAA success criteria, as well as additional tests beyond WCAG 2.0 standards.

Holistic Tests

Holistic tests are used in addition to atomic tests to evaluate the overall user experience. Automatic atomic do not understand the user-end of accessibility requirements, making the human evaluation component incredibly important.

Holistic tests include assistive technology testing, user-centered design methods, and both user and expert usability testing.

WCAG 3.0 Conformance Levels

WCAG 2.0 used conformance levels A, AA, and AAA to evaluate the degree of accessibility for websites and web content. Instead, WCAG 3.0 utilizes a new system that encourages teams to continuously improve. Bronze level is the closest equivalent to Level AA.


The bronze standard is the minimum conformance level, meaning that content that does not meet the requirements of the bronze level does not conform to WCAG 3.0. The bronze level can be verified using atomic tests.

For content to conform to the bronze level:

Conformance to this specification at the bronze level does not mean every requirement in every guideline is fully met.


Silver is a higher conformance level that addresses additional outcomes. Some holistic testing is necessary to verify conformance to this level.

For content that conforms to the silver level:

  • All views MUST satisfy the Bronze criteria; and
  • Use of holistic tests to meet this level will be further explored in future drafts


Gold is the highest conformance level that addresses the remaining outcomes described in the guidelines. Additional holistic testing is necessary to verify conformance to this level.

For content that conforms to the gold level:

  • All views MUST satisfy the Silver criteria; and
  • Use of holistic tests to meet this level will be further explored in future drafts

WCAG 3.0 Testing and Conformance Levels Conclusion

Web content’s accessibility is a growing concern and liability for many organizations and institutions. The recent release of the WCAG 3.0 Guidelines set forth a rather different and new set of testing and conformance levels that you and your organization must become familiar with. 

Satisfying these requirements is the first step to making your content accessible to all people. Not to mention the considerable reach your content can attain from previously untapped audiences. For more information on WCAG 3.0, check out our blogs on the overall WCAG 3.0 Guidelines as well as the WCAG 3.0 Glossary

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Nicole E. Flynn, CMO at cielo24, is deeply interested in exploring and communicating the ways in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) intersects with various aspects of our daily lives. She is passionate about exploring the ways in which AI can be ethically harnessed to improve the quality of life and make our world a better place. Nicole seeks to educate and inform audiences about the potential of AI technology and how it can be used to drive innovation and growth.