summary - context - technical activity - international program office activity - additional information
This briefing package proposes renewals of the WAI Technical Activity and WAI International Program Office Activity for another three years. Since the two WAI Activities are closely linked, they are presented together.
Accessibility of the Web is of critical importance to millions of Web users with disabilities around the world, including people with visual, auditory, physical, cognitive and neurological disabilities, and those with aging-related conditions. Web accessibility also benefits users without disabilities, for instance people accessing the Web from mobile devices. Interest in Web accessibility and demand for resources to support implementation of accessibility have continued to increase as a growing number of organizations have made accessibility an integral part of their Web development.
Over the past seven years, W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has developed accessibility solutions for Web technologies, guidelines, tools, and education and outreach. W3C/WAI has emerged as the authoritative international resource on accessibility of the Web. WAI has served as an effective forum to bring together the perspectives of industry, the disability community, accessibility researchers and governments from around the world. As WAI's work has progressed, new priorities have emerged for future work.
WAI's work is divided between two Activities:
WAI's initial phase started with a briefing package in
February 1997 proposing an initial three-year project. W3C announced
its commitment to host the Web
Accessibility Initiative in April 1997. Availability of project
resources enabled launching the WAI
International Program Office in October, 1997. A second
briefing package proposed a renewal of WAI
Activities for three years and was approved in June 2001.
WAI's accomplishments to date are outlined in the section on additional information in this proposal.
Individual WAI publications are available from the annotated list on
the WAI Resources page.
The two WAI Activities are supported in part by external funds, in addition to W3C Membership funds. Information on WAI funders and sponsors is available in this activity proposal.
This Activity proposal recommends a renewal of WAI Activities for another three years, and is consistent with Section 5: Activities of the 5 February 2004 W3C Process Document.
This section answers the following questions from the W3C Process document:
In many parts of the world the Web has become a gateway to educational opportunity, employment, workplace communication, commerce, government information and services, recreation, and more. It is therefore increasingly important to ensure that the Web is accessible to people with disabilities so that they may participate on an equal basis with others in the information society.
WAI has played a unique role in the area of Web accessibility, serving as an international forum bringing together organizations from around the world to work together on accessibility solutions, and working closely with other W3C groups to ensure consideration of accessibility starting from the earliest stage of development of new technologies. With world-wide activity on Web accessibility, there is an increased need to maintain this central forum in which industry, disability organizations, accessibility researchers and government representatives can jointly develop consensus-based solutions for Web accessibility, and promote standards harmonization around these solutions.
Many governments, businesses and other organizations around the world are using guidelines and resources already developed by W3C/WAI. As the number, complexity, and interactions between new Web technologies expands, so does the need and the challenge of monitoring and negotiating accessibility solutions in all of these technologies. There is a corresponding need to develop technology-specific techniques and test suites for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0), Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (ATAG 2.0) and User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (UAAG 1.0). Expanded education and outreach resources are needed to reach a broader range of audiences using W3C/WAI guidelines. Vigilance is needed on potential accessibility issues in advanced Web research and development.
The market for Web accessibility solutions is broad. It includes
designers and developers of Web content and Web sites who want to
ensure that their sites can be accessed and used effectively by people
with disabilities. They may be interested in Web accessibility
because of any one or a combination of the following factors: the number of people with disabilities among the populations that they are trying to reach; the fact that accessible design provides a good foundation for device-independent access to their sites; legal or policy requirements for accessibility which apply to their Web sites; or their desire to show their leadership in social responsibility.
The market for Web accessibility solutions also includes many individuals and organizations which are not in explicitly technical roles. For instance, policy-makers want to ensure that government information and services can be accessed by the whole population; educators are moving their curricula and instructional programs online; businesses may want to set document rights management and/or security policies but not inadvertently exclude people with disabilities who may be using assistive technologies to access their Web sites.
Many people in the Web community were initially unaware that accessibility can be just as much a factor in virtual information space as it is in the physical environment, and that barriers to accessibility can impede access to Web sites for ten percent or more of their audiences. The same principles and solutions that make Web sites work for people with disabilities also enable access to the Web from a variety of different kinds of devices such as mobile phones, personal digital assistants, Web kiosks, and televisions. These principles and solutions are consistent with good Web design and markup, and with evolving trends in Web technologies.
Legal and/or policy requirements for Web accessibility now exist in Australia, Canada, the European Union, Thailand, the US, and additional countries as listed in WAI's reference list of policies relating to Web accessibility. These requirements generally apply to government Web sites, but in some cases also to commercial sites. In some cases such as the United States' "Section 508," accessibility requirements are part of procurement policies which favor the purchase of accessible software and therefore encourage a market for accessibility solutions among software developers.
Regardless of the reason for interest in Web accessibility, Web
designers and developers share a need for a multi-layered
solution for accessibility. Web developers need the Web Content
Guidelines, which explain how to make accessible Web sites; WCAG 2.0
will explain how to do this with a broader set of formats than does
WCAG 1.0. Developers also need supporting documents and tools for WCAG,
up-to-date implementation techniques, precise
testing criteria, language-specific test suites and evaluation tools.
In addition, Web designers and developers need authoring tools that
conform to W3C's Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines and that
therefore support production of
WCAG-conformant Web sites. Designers and developers need people with
have access to UAAG-conformant browsers and media
players, in order to properly render the information on Web sites, and
full interaction with their Web sites whether directly or via assistive
Developers of authoring tools, browsers and media players are increasingly hindered by conflicting versions of Web accessibility guidelines at local and regional levels. There is a demand for W3C/WAI to produce an advanced version of WCAG onto which organizations around the world can converge; to develop definitive implementation support materials to accompany these guidelines; and to ensure international acceptance of a common set of Web accessibility standards. Many software developers have committed to implement ATAG and/or UAAG in future product releases, but need more advanced techniques, test suites, and technical assistance to help them implement accessibility support in their products.
As awareness of the need for Web accessibility has spread to more
countries, and throughout more sectors of society,
many local projects have begun to address Web accessibility. In general
these projects focus on promoting local awareness and implementation.
They often mix local policy efforts with public awareness, training,
and technical assistance. WAI resources help provide a common message
for these efforts.
There has also been a significant surge in commercial development related to Web accessibility over the past several years, most notably in the areas of accessible Web design and development services, evaluation tool development, and evaluation services. In addition, many large organizations, whether governmental or corporate, have formed in-house Web accessibility centers in order to ensure implementation of Web accessibility throughout their organizations.
These efforts are a welcome result of the uptake of W3C/WAI work. The organizations involved generally regard WAI as a crucial resource rather than as a competitor, and additionally regard WAI as a forum in which to share their resources and get feedback on their own efforts. Over the course of WAI's activities to date, there has been an increasing number of organizations directly involved in WAI Working Groups and contributing review comments on WAI documents. Many of these organizations are listed among the participants of WAI Working Groups.
Additionally, there has been development of divergent Web accessibility guidelines at a national and local level in some countries. This has slowed the harmonization of Web accessibility standards and resulted in developers having to implement different guidelines. W3C/WAI has brought many of these organizations into dialog with existing WAI Working Groups and encouraged them to contribute their perspectives to the development of WCAG 2.0, so that WCAG 2.0 may become the preferred Web accessibility standard around which to harmonize.
The scope of the proposed WAI Technical Activity renewal includes work on:
The WAI Technical Activity includes the five Working Groups described below. The following information includes excerpts from the missions, resource statements and timelines available in the proposed charters. Timelines ranging up to three years are identified below for each proposed charter. The activity as a whole is proposed for a three-year period.
The mission of the Protocols and Formats Working Group ( PFWG) is to increase support for accessibility in Web specifications. This mission flows from the W3C mission of promoting universal access and interoperability across the Web.
PFWG was first chartered in December 1997. PFWG was rechartered in June 2001 [PFWG Charter] to continue its work reviewing technical specifications under development in other areas of W3C. The group is being rechartered to continue this work.
Through its relationships with other Working Groups, and with the assistance of the Hypertext Coordination Group and WAI Coordination Groups, the PFWG will work to coordinate plans of action across Working Groups to improve the level of accessibility support in Web technology as it evolves and is implemented. Wherever possible, the Working Group will document solutions to problems as they are worked out. This information will help to inform future developments. This will take the form of the XML Accessibility Guidelines (XAG) and various Working Group Notes as described in the deliverables section of the PFWG charter.
The Chair of PFWG is Al Gilman. W3C resources for this group include Matt May at 35%. The duration of the renewed charter is through 19 December 2007.
The mission of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (WCAG WG) is to develop guidelines to make Web content accessible for people with disabilities. In particular, WCAG WG will publish the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 as a W3C Recommendation.
WCAG WG was first chartered in August 1997 [WCAG WG Charter] to produce WCAG 1.0 which became a W3C Recommendation in May 1999. WCAG WG was rechartered in June 2001 [WCAG WG Charter] to continue W3C's work on guidelines for creating accessible Web content. A third charter was reviewed by the W3C Advisory Committee in October 2003 [WCAG WG Charter].The group is being rechartered to allow additional time for development of WCAG 2.0, and post-Recommendation work for WCAG 2.0.
The Chair of WCAG WG is Gregg Vanderheiden. W3C resources for this group include Wendy Chisholm at 60% and Matt May at 5%. A planned schedule of milestones for WCAG WG is available. The duration of the renewed charter is through 19 December 2006.
The mission of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AUWG) is to develop guidelines for accessibility of authoring tools and to support the production of accessible Web content and Web sites by authoring tools. In particular, AUWG will publish the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 as a W3C Recommendation.
AUWG was originally chartered in December 1997 [AUWG Charter]. AUWG was rechartered in June 2001 [AUWG Charter] to continue W3C's work on guidelines for accessible authoring tools. The group is being rechartered to allow additional time for development of ATAG 2.0, and post-Recommendation work for ATAG 2.0.
The Chair of this Working Group is Jutta Treviranus. W3C resources for this group include Matt May at 35%. A planned schedule of milestones for AUWG is availalble. The duration of the renewed charter is through 19 December 2006.
The mission of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (UAWG) is to produce guidelines, techniques, and test suites for the development of accessible user agents, including browsers and media players, software that retrieves and renders Web content, including text, graphics, sounds, video, images, etc., and that interoperates with assistive technologies. In particular, the UAWG seeks to support the implementation of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 , and to collect requirements for a subsequent version of User Agent Accessibility Guidelines.
UAWG was originally chartered in December, 1997 [UAWG Charter]. UAWG was rechartered in June 2001 [UAWG Charter] to continue W3C's work on guidelines for accessible user agents. The group is being rechartered to allow additional time for post-Recommendation work for UAAG 1.0.
The Chair of this Working Group is Jon Gunderson. W3C resources for this group include Matt May at 20%. A planned schedule of milestones for UAWG is available. The duration of the renewed charter is through 19 December 2006.
The mission of the Evaluation and Repair Tools Working Group (ERT WG) is to develop techniques and resources to facilitate the evaluation and repair of Web sites with regard to their conformance to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, and to facilitate testing across all three WAI guidelines also including the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines and User Agent Accessibility Guidelines.
ERT WG was originally chartered in June, 1998 [ERT WG Charter]. ERT WG was rechartered in June 2001 [ERT WG Charter]. Related work was done under the Evaluation and Repair Interest Group (ERIG) charter. The group is being rechartered in order to resume work on evaluation and repair tools.
The Chair of this Working Group is Shadi Abou-Zahra. W3C resources for this group include Shadi Abou-Zahra at 30% and Wendy Chisholm at 10%. A planned schedule of milestones for ERT WG is available. The duration of the renewed charter is through 19 December 2006.
The WAI International Program Office includes work on:
The WAI International Program Office includes the four Working Groups described below. The following information includes excerpts from the missions, resource statements and timelines available in the proposed charters. Timelines ranging up to three years are identified below for each proposed charter. The activity as a whole is proposed for a three-year period.
The mission of the Education and Outreach Working Group (EOWG) is to develop strategies, and awareness and training resources, to educate a variety of audiences regarding the need for Web accessibility and approaches to implementing Web accessibility. The EOWG was originally chartered in March 1998 [EOWG Charter]. EOWG's charter was renewed in June 2001 [EOWG Charter]. A third EOWG charter was reviewed by the W3C Advisory Committee in October 2003 [EOWG Charter]. The EOWG is renewing its charter in order to continue work on education and outreach deliverables in support of Web accessibility.
The Chair of this Working Group is Judy Brewer. W3C resources for this group include Shawn Henry at 60%, Shadi Abou-Zahra at 30%, Judy Brewer at 15%, and Matt May at 5%. A planned schedule of milestones for EOWG is available. The duration of the renewed charter is through 19 December 2007.
The mission of the RDIG is to increase the number of Web-related researchers who incorporate accessibility into their research design, and to identify projects researching Web accessibility and suggest techniques that may contribute to new projects. The desired outcome of more research in Web accessibility and awareness of accessibility in mainstream Web-related research should decrease the number of potential barriers in future Web-related technologies.RDIG was originally chartered in June 2001 [RDIG Charter]. RDIG's charter was amended in November 2002 [RDIG Charter]. The group is being rechartered in order to continue exploring accessibility considerations in advanced Web technologies.
The Co-Chair of RDIG is Mark Hakkinen, with a second Co-Chair to be announced. W3C resources for this group include Wendy Chisholm at 10% and an additional team contact, to be announced, at 50%. A planned schedule of milestones for RDIG is available. The duration of the renewed charter is through 19 December 2006.
The mission of the WAI Interest Group is to provide a public forum for review of deliverables under development by other WAI groups; for exploration of barriers to, and potential solutions for, accessibility of the Web; and for exchanging information about Web-accessibility related activities around the world. This mission supports the work of other WAI groups within the WAI Technical Activity and the WAI International Program Office Activity. The WAI IG mailing list includes several hundred participants, with an active level of discussion.
WAI IG evolved out of the first WAI working group and discussion list following the WAI launch in 1997. WAI IG was first formally chartered in June 2001 [WAI IG Charter]. WAI IG is renewing its charter in order to continue its role as a forum for discussions on Web accessibility.
The Chair of this Interest Group is Judy Brewer. W3C resources for this group include Judy Brewer and Shawn Lawton Henry at 5% each. This Interest Group does not have deliverables or milestones. The duration of the renewed charter is through 19 December 2007.
The mission of the WAI CG is to coordinate among all WAI groups, and between WAI groups and other W3C groups as needed. This mission facilitates the work of all WAI groups within the WAI Technical Activity and the WAI International Program Office Activity.
WAI CG was originally chartered in (member confidential link) August 1998 [WAI CG Charter]. WAI CG was rechartered in June 2001. It is renewing its charter in order to continue coordination of WAI groups.
The Chair of this Coordination Group is Judy Brewer. W3C resources for this group include Judy Brewer at 10%. This Coordination Group does not have milestones. The duration of the renewed charter is through 19 December 2007.
General information on WAI is available from the WAI home page. Current activity statements for the WAI Technical Activity and WAI International Program Office Activity, and the original WAI Briefing Package and second WAI Briefing Package are available.
WAI's accomplishments during the past seven years include production of the WCAG 1.0, ATAG 1.0, and UAAG 1.0; techniques documents; and educational resources, as well as influencing the development of technologies that W3C has released during this time. An annotated listing of WAI resources is available, and a number of these documents are also available from the W3C Technical Reports page.
WAI's work, in particular its guidelines including the W3C Recommendations WCAG 1.0, ATAG 1.0, and UAAG 1.0, has been widely cited as the authoritative reference on making Web sites accessible.
Both WAI Activities receive additional sponsorship beyond W3C Membership funds. WAI sponsors include the US Department of Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research; the European Commission's Information Society Technology Programme; the Government of Canada, Industry Canada's Assistive Devices Industry Office; Fundación ONCE, HP; IBM; Microsoft Corporation; SAP; Verizon Foundation, and Wells Fargo. Past sponsors and contributors include the US National Science Foundation, the EC Telematics Programme for Disabled and Elderly, Eliza Communications, Lotus Development Corporation, the Massachusetts Association for the Blind, NCR, WinWriters, and the Austrian Computer Society. Information on how to become a WAI sponsor is available.
Last updated $Date: 2004/11/08 05:52:48 $, by Judy Brewer (firstname.lastname@example.org).