- Web Accessibility Initiative
World Wide Web Consortium(W3C)'s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is an effort to improve the accessibility of the World Wide Web(WWW or Web) for people with disabilities. People with disabilities may encounter difficulties when using computers generally, but also on the Web.Since people with disabilities often require non-standard devices and browsers, making websites more accessible also benefits a wide range of user agents and devices, including mobile devices, which have limited resources.
The W3C launched the Web Accessibility in 1997 with endorsement by The White House and W3C members. [ [http://www.w3.org/Press/WAI-Launch.html World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Launches International Web Accessibility Initiative] Press release, 7 April 1997.] It has several working groups and interest groups that work on guidelines, technical reports, educational materials and other documents that relate to the several different components of web accessibility.These components include web content, web browsers and media players, authoring tools, and evaluation tools.
WAI develops guidelines and other technical reports through the same process as other parts of the W3C. [ [http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/w3c-process How WAI Develops Accessibility Guidelines through the W3C Process: Milestones and Opportunities to Contribute] ] Like other W3C initiatives, the WAI consists of several working groups and interest groups, each with its own focus. Only working groups can produce technical reports that become W3C recommendations. A working group can sometimes delegate specific work to a task force, which then presents its results back to the working group for approval. Interest groups may produce reports (for example, as W3C Notes), but not recommendations.Each of these types of groups (working group, task force, interest group) can have one or more mailing lists. They meet through conference calls at regular intervals (typically every week or every other week) and sometimes use web-based surveys to collect input or comments from participants. They can also meet face to face (one to four times per year).
Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AUWG)
The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group develops guidelines, techniques and supporting resources for tools that create web content, ranging from desktop HTML editors to content management systems.The accessibility requirements apply to two types of things: the user interface on the one hand, and the content produced by the tool on the other.The working group consists of representatives from organizations that produce authoring tools, researchers, and other accessibility experts.The working group produced the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 in 2000 and is currently working on Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. It also published a document on Selecting and Using Authoring Tools for Web Accessibility. [ [http://www.w3.org/WAI/impl/software.html Selecting and Using Authoring Tools for Web Accessibility] ]
Education and Outreach Working Group (EOWG)
The Education and Outreach Working Group develops materials for training and education on Web accessibility. This working group has produced documents on a wide range of subjects, including:
* Accessibility Features of CSS [ [http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS-access Accessibility Features of CSS - W3C NOTE 4 August 1999] ]
* Curriculum for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [ [http://www.w3.org/WAI/wcag-curric/ Curriculum for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0] ]
* Evaluating Web Sites for Accessibility, a suite of documents about subjects such as conformance evaluation, evaluation approaches for specific contexts, involving users in web accessibility evaluation, and selecting web accessibility evaluation tools [ [http://www.w3.org/WAI/eval/ Evaluating Web Sites for Accessibility] ]
* Planning Web Accessibility Training [ [http://www.w3.org/WAI/training/ Planning Web Accessibility Training] ]
* Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization [ [http://www.w3.org/WAI/bcase/ Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization: Overview] ]
* How People with Disabilities Use the Web, a document that describes various fictitious characters with disabilities and how they use the Web in different scenarios [http://www.w3.org/WAI/EO/Drafts/PWD-Use-Web/Overview.html How People with Disabilities Use the Web] ]
* many introduction pages on the WAI website.
Currently, the working group has a task force to support the work done in the WAI-AGE project. This project published a document that reviews literature about the needs of older users and compares these needs with those of people with disabilties as already addressed in WAI guidelines. [ [http://www.w3.org/WAI/WAI-AGE/ WAI-AGE Project (IST 035015)] ] [ [http://www.w3.org/TR/wai-age-literature/ Web Accessibility for Older Users: A Literature Review - W3C Working Draft 14 May 2008 ] ]
The Education and Outreach Working Group can also review working drafts produced by other WAI working groups.
Evaluation and Repair Tools Working Group (ERT WG)
The Evaluation and Repair Tools Working Group develops technical specifications that support the accessibility evaluation and repair of Web sites. It also maintains a database of tools for evaluating Web sites and for making them more accessible (“repair”, “retrofitting”).The working group consists mainly of developers of such tools and researchers.Current work focuses on
* Evaluation and Report Language (EARL): a language for expressing evaluation reports in a machine-readable way [ [http://www.w3.org/TR/EARL10-Schema/ Evaluation and Report Language 1.0 Schema] ] [Evaluation and Report Language 1.0 Guide]
* HTTP Vocabulary in RDF, which specifies how HTTP requests and responses can be expressed in RDF [ [http://www.w3.org/TR/HTTP-in-RDF/ HTTP Vocabulary in RDF] ]
* Representing Content in RDF, which specifies how content (retrieved from the Web or a local storage device) can be represented in RDF [ [http://www.w3.org/TR/Content-in-RDF/ Representing Content in RDF] ]
* Pointer Methods in RDF, early work on how locations in and parts of online documents can be expressed in RDF
Protocols & Formats Working Group (PFWG)
The Protocols & Formats Working Group reviews all W3C technologies for accessibility before they are published as a recommendation. It has also published a note on accessibility issues of
CAPTCHA[ [http://www.w3.org/TR/turingtest/ Inaccessibility of CAPTCHA: Alternatives to Visual Turing Tests on the Web - W3C Working Group Note 23 November 2005] ] , a paper on natural language usage for people with cognitive disabilities [ [http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/natural-lang-20030326.html Natural Language Usage -- Issues and Strategies for Universal Access to Information] ] ,and initial work on accessibility requirements for XML-based markup languages (XML Accessibility Guidelines).
In 2006, the working group started development of a set of document and specifications for accessible rich internet applications:
WAI-ARIA. [ [http://www.w3.org/TR/2006/WD-aria-roadmap-20060926/ Roadmap for Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA Roadmap) - W3C Working Draft 26 September 2006] . This is the first public working draft; the most recent version can always be found at [http://www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria-roadmap/ www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria-roadmap/] .] [ [http://www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria/ Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) Version 1.0 - W3C Working Draft 6 August 2008] ] [ [http://www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria-practices/ WAI-ARIA Best Practices - W3C Working Draft 4 February 2008] ]
Research and Development Interest Group (RDIG)
The goal of the Research and Development Interest Group is
* to increase the incorporation of accessibility considerations into research on Web technologies, and
* to identify projects researching Web accessibility and suggest research questions that may contribute to new projects. [http://www.w3.org/WAI/RD/charter2 |Research and Development Interest Group (RDIG) Charter] ]
User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (UAWG)
The User Agent Accessibility Guideline Working Group develops guidelines, techniques and other documents to promote the accessibility of user agents: browsers and plug-ins.The working group consists mainly of organizations that develop user agents, researchers, and other accessibility experts.The working group published User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (UAAG 1.0) as a W3C Recommendation in 2002, and is currently working on the second version of this specification.
WAI Interest Group (WAI IG)
The WAI Interest Group is an open group with a mailing list to which anyone can subscribe. W3C staff post announcements of new WAI documents to this mailing list to invite reviews and comments. Members of the list also post announcements of relevant events and publications, and ask advice on issues related to web accessibility.The language of the mailing list is English; there are no parallel mailing lists in other languages.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (WCAG WG)
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group produces guidelines, techniques and other supporting documents relating to the accessibility of Web content. Web content refers to any information you may find on a Web site: text, images, forms, sound, video, etcetera, regardless whether these were produced on the server side or on the client side (with a client-side scripting language such as
The working group consists of representatives from industry, accessibility consultancies, universities, organizations that represent end users, and other accessibility experts.
The working group published the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG 1.0) as W3C Recommendation in 1999, followed by techniques documents in 2000.In 2001, the working group started work on WCAG 2.0.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group is probably the most well-known working group in WAI; the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 are often simply referred to as “the WAI guidelines,” even though WAI also produces other guidelines and specifications.
WAI Coordination Group
The WAI Coordination Group co-ordinates that activities of the WAI working groups (and interest groups). Its activities are not public.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (known as WCAG) were published as a W3C Recommendation on 5 May 1999. A supporting document, Techniques for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [ [http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT-TECHS/ Techniques for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 - W3C Note 6 November 2000] ] was published as a W3C Note on 6 November 2000.WCAG 1.0 is a set of guidelines for making web content more accessible to persons with disabilities. They also help make web content more usable for other devices, including mobile devices (PDAs and cell phones).The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 are recognized as a de facto standard and have served as a basis for legislation and evaluation methodologies in many countries.
The WCAG working group is currently working on a new version of the guidelines. The development of WCAG 2.0 is based on very different requirements from WCAG 1.0:
* the guidelines needed to be technology-neutral, whereas WCAG 1.0 was strongly based on HTML and CSS;
* the guidelnes needed to be worded as testable statements instead of instructions to authors.The combination of more general applicability and higher precision proved very challenging. Currently, WCAG 2.0 is in the Candicate Recommendation phase, which means that the working group needs to find evidence that the guidelines can be implemented in real websites.
Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG)
Developed by the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group, the ATAG 1.0 became a W3C Recommendation on 3 February 3 2000. The ATAG is a set of guidelines for developers of any kind of authoring tool for Web content: simple HTML editors, tools that export content for use on the Web (for example, word processors that can save as HTML), tools that produce multimedia, content management systems, etcetera.
The goal is for developers to create tools that:
* are accessible to authors regardless of disability,
* produce accessible content by default,
* support and encourage authors to create accessible content.
The ATAG working group is currently working on a second version of the guidelines. A Last Call Working Draft was published in November 2004 [ [http://www.w3.org/TR/2004/WD-ATAG20-20041122/ Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 - W3C Working Draft 22 November 2004] ] [ [http://www.w3.org/WAI/AU/2005/11_2004_comment_responses.html Response to Last Call Comments] on ATAG 2.0, November 2004] but subsequent versions were published as normal working drafts.
User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG)
Developed by the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working Group, the UAAG 1.0 became a W3C Recommendation on 17 December 2002. The UAAG is a set of guidelines for user agent developers (such as
web browsers and media players) aimed at making the user agent accessible to users with disabilities. Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [ [http://www.w3.org/TR/2002/NOTE-UAAG10-TECHS-20021217/ Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 - W3C Note 17 December 2002] ] was published as a W3C Note on the same day; it provides techniques for satisfying the checkpoints defined in UAAG 1.0.Working group members also produced other supporting documents, including initial notes on How to evaluate a user agent for conformance to UAAG 1.0 [ [http://www.w3.org/WAI/UA/2001/10/eval How to evaluate a user agent for conformance to UAAG 1.0] ] ; this document was not formally approved by the working group.No user agents have been reported as fully conforming to UAAG 1.0.
The working group is currently working on a new version of the guidelines. The first public drafts of Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 [ [http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/WD-ATAG20-20080310/ Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 - W3C Working Draft 10 March 2008] ] and Implementation Techniques for ATAG 2.0 [ [http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/WD-ATAG20-TECHS-20080310/ W3C Working Draft 10 March 2008 - W3C Working Draft 10 March 2008] ] were published on 10 March 2008.
XML Accessibility Guidelines (XAG)
The XAG explains how to include features in XML applications (i.e. markup languages conforming to the XML specification) that promote accessibility. Work on these guidelines stopped in 2002; the guidelines are still a working draft.
Section 508 Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973- a US government accessibility standard
* [http://www.w3.org/WAI/ Official website]
** [http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT/ Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0]
** [http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/ Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (W3C Working Draft 27 April 2006)]
** [http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-AUTOOLS Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0]
** [http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-USERAGENT User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0]
** [http://www.w3.org/TR/xag XML Accessibility Guidelines Working Draft]
** [http://www.w3.org/WAI/EO/ Education & Outreach Working Group]
** [http://www.w3.org/WAI/RD/ Research and Development Interest Group]
** [http://www.w3.org/WAI/gettingstarted/ Getting Started]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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