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Proposal for WAI Technical Activity and WAI International Program Office Activity

summary - introduction - context - technical activity - international program office activity

1. Executive Summary

This document proposes adding a new group, Independent User Interface Working Group (Indie UI) to the WAI Technical Activity, with a charter extending through 31 January 2015. The existing WAI Activities Proposal (approved 14 September 2010), with charters extending through 30 June 2013, remains unchanged except for updates to team contacts and minor adjustments of effort.

Since the two WAI Activities are closely linked, they are presented together. WAI's work is conducted through the following two W3C Activities:

  1. The WAI Technical Activity addresses support for accessibility across all W3C technologies; development and implementation of guidelines for Web content and applications and for browsers, media players and authoring tools; development of specifications to provide accessibility functions; and development of techniques to assist in evaluating and retrofitting Web content.
  2. The WAI International Program Office Activity addresses development of education and outreach materials, resources, and events; coordination with research on advanced Web technologies; general discussion and review of all WAI deliverables; and coordination among all WAI groups.

Publications from previous WAI work are available from the W3C Technical Reports page and the annotated list on the WAI Resources page. This proposal is consistent with Section 5: Activities of the 5 February 2004 W3C Process Document.

2. Introduction

Accessibility of the web is of critical importance to millions of web users with disabilities around the world, including people with auditory, cognitive, physical, neurological, and visual disabilities, and those with accessibility needs due to aging. When the web is inaccessible, people with disabilities and older users have difficulty accessing and interacting with information essential to education, employment, health, civic participation, government services, social networking, entertainment, and more. An accessible web also benefits people who do not have disabilities but who are experiencing situational barriers, for instance when accessing the web from mobile devices, in low bandwidth situations, or due to barriers or language or literacy.

Interest in web accessibility and the demand for resources to support implementation of accessibility have expanded as requirements for accessibility have increased in different countries. The recent passage of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which includes access to information as a human right, is further driving the demand for web accessibility implementation guidance and educational resources.

Since 1997 W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has provided an international forum where industry, the disability community, accessibility researchers, government representatives, and other stakeholders collaborate to develop consensus-based solutions to improve accessibility of the web. WAI helps ensure accessibility of web technologies; develops guidelines, resources for evaluation of accessible web content, educational and outreach resources; and promotes harmonization of accessibility standards.

General information on WAI is available from the WAI home page; information from recent months is available from the Activity Statements for the WAI Technical Activity and WAI International Program Office Activity. WAI's accomplishments since 1997 include development of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, and User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0; completion of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, and development of drafts of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 and User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 2.0; development of associated Implementation Techniques documents for each of these guidelines; development of drafts of the WAI-ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) and EARL 1.0 Schema (Evaluation and Report Language); and scores of educational resources. WAI has contributed to accessibility support in many W3C specifications through the work of the Protocols and Formats Working Group. An extensive annotated listing of WAI resources is available.

WAI Activities receive support from WAI funders and sponsors in addition to 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; HP; IBM; and Microsoft Corporation. Past sponsors and contributors include the US National Science Foundation, the EC Telematics Programme for Disabled and Elderly, Eliza Communications, Fundacion ONCE, Lotus Development Corporation, the Massachusetts Association for the Blind, NCR, SAP, Verizon Foundation, Wells Fargo, WinWriters, and the Austrian Computer Society. Information on how to become a WAI sponsor is available.

WAI's initial phase started with a briefing package in February 1997. W3C announced its commitment to host the Web Accessibility Initiative in April 1997, and launched 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. A proposal for renewal of WAI activities was approved in December 2004, and extended several times. A new WAI Activities Proposal was approved in September 2010.

3. Context

This section answers the following questions from section 5.6 of the W3C Process document:

3.1 Relevance of Activities

It is essential that the web be accessible to people with disabilities and older users so that they may participate on an equal basis with others in the information society. Accessibility for people with disabilities and older users has relevance to the entire spectrum of W3C's work, from the design and development of technical standards, to education and outreach on best practices for the web.

WAI serves as the leading international authority on web accessibility; as a forum bringing together organizations from around the world to collaborate on accessibility solutions; and as an internal partner working with W3C groups to ensure consideration of accessibility of technologies from the design stage onwards. Governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations around the world use W3C/WAI guidelines and resources, and rely on these resources to be updated as web technologies evolve. There is a continued need for a central forum in which to develop consensus-based solutions for web accessibility, and a corresponding need to promote harmonization of web accessibility standards.

Extensive work remains to be done to expand WCAG 2 techniques and testing resources, and to develop an evaluation methodology for WCAG 2.0. ATAG 2.0, UAAG 2.0, WAI-ARIA, and EARL 1.0 Schema need to be completed, and likewise supporting techniques, testing resources and evaluation methodologies for these guidelines. Expanded educational and outreach resources are needed to reach the broader range of audiences that are now using W3C/WAI guidelines.

3.2 Characteristics of the Market

The market for Web accessibility solutions includes designers and developers of web content and applications and websites who want to ensure that their sites can be accessed and used effectively by people with disabilities and older users. The market includes policy-makers wanting to ensure that government information and services are accessible by all; educators with online instructional programs; and businesses who are interested in the purchasing power of this market demographic. There is a demand for accessible mainstream user agents, authoring tools that support production of accessible content, assistive technologies that interoperate better with Web software, tools for evaluating conformance to accessibility standards, and educational materials to provide implementation support.

3.3 Related Efforts

With growth in awareness of the need for web accessibility, many national and local efforts have arisen to address related needs. These efforts often used to include development of parallel web accessibility guidelines and standards, leading to fragmentation of a unified market for web accessibility authoring and evaluation tools, and difficulty for web developers needing to follow multiple accessibility standards. A growing appreciation for the benefits of standards harmonization has meant that related web accessibility efforts are now more likely to focus on complementary aspects of web accessibility. These complementary efforts include public awareness initiatives and development of training and evaluation resources. Many of these organizations also contribute to development of guidelines, techniques and educational resources at W3C/WAI.

4. WAI Technical Activity

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 are identified below for each proposed charter. The activity as a whole is proposed for a three-year period.

4.1 Protocols and Formats Review Working Group (PFWG Member-only site) -- PFWG Charter

The mission of the Protocols and Formats Working Group is to ensure that W3C specifications provide support for accessibility for people with disabilities. The group advances this mission through review of W3C specifications, technical support materials, and specifications that bridge known gaps.

This charters continues the previous mission of the PFWG. Substantive changes from the previous charter include:

The initial Chair of PFWG is Janina Sajka (Invited Expert). W3C resources for this group include Michael Cooper at 35%. The duration of the renewed charter is through 30 June 2013.

4.2 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group -- WCAG WG Charter

The mission of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group is to support the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 W3C Recommendation, which aims to make Web content accessible for people with disabilities.

This charter continues the previous mission of the WCAG WG. Substantive changes from the previous charter include:

The initial Co-Chairs of WCAG WG are Gregg Vanderheiden (Invited Expert) and Loretta Guarino Reid (Google). W3C resources for this group include Michael Cooper at 40%. The duration of the renewed charter is through 30 June 2013.

4.3 Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group -- AUWG Charter

The mission of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AUWG) is to produce guidelines for the development of authoring tools that are both accessible to authors and also enable all authors to create content that is accessible to end users. In particular, the AUWG will publish the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (ATAG 2.0) as a W3C Recommendation.

This charter continues the previous mission of the AUWG. Substantive changes from the previous charter include:

The initial Chair of this Working Group is Jutta Treviranus (Invited Expert). W3C resources for this group include Jeanne Spellman at 40%. The duration of the renewed charter is through 30 June 2013.

4.4 User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working Group -- UAWG Charter

The mission of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (UAWG) is to produce guidelines for the development of accessible user agents (e.g., browsers, media players, etc.) and their interoperability with assistive technology. A user agent is software that retrieves and renders Web content, including text, graphics, sounds, video, images, etc. In particular, the UAWG will publish the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (UAAG 2.0) as a W3C Recommendation.

This charter continues the previous mission of the UAWG. Substantive differences from the previous UAWG charter include:

The initial Co-Chairs of this Working Group are Jim Allan (Invited Expert) and Kelly Ford (Microsoft). W3C resources for this group include Jeanne Spellman at 35%. The duration of the renewed charter is through 30 June 2013.

4.5 Evaluation and Repair Tools Working Group -- ERT WG Charter

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 websites with regard to their conformance to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and to facilitate testing across all WAI guidelines and standards also including the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG), User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG), and Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA).

This charter continues the previous mission of the ERT WG. Substantive differences from the previous ERT WG charter include:

The intial Chair of this Working Group is Shadi Abou-Zahra (W3C). W3C resources for this group include Shadi Abou-Zahra at 20%. The duration of the renewed charter is through 30 June 2013.

4.6 Independent User Interface Working Group -- Indie UI Charter

The mission of the Indie UI Working Group is to develop event models for Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that facilitate interaction in Web applications that are input method independent, and hence accessible to people with disabilities. The group will develop a standard model to represent user intent in interaction regardless of device-specific interaction. It will also allow the use of alternate input devices such as assistive technologies, while providing a simple model for authors to develop interaction for a wide array of devices. These capabilities are critical for accessibility, and they also benefit mainstream users. These events enhance or complement APIs from other Working Groups, and this group will coordinate closely with those groups, may support enhanced deliverables of such groups instead of developing the model itself, and will form a joint task force with the Web Events WG.

This group will produce the following Recommendation-track event APIs:

The initial Chair of this Working Group is Janina Sajka (Invited Expert). W3C resources for this group include Michael Cooper at 15%. The duration of the proposed charter is through 31 January 2015.

5. WAI International Program Office Activity

The WAI International Program Office includes work on:

The WAI International Program Office includes the four Groups described below. The following information includes excerpts from the missions, resource statements and timelines available in the proposed charters. Timelines are identified below for each proposed charter. The activity as a whole is proposed for a three-year period.

5.1 Education and Outreach Working Group -- EOWG Charter

The mission of the Education and Outreach Working Group is to develop strategies and resources to increase awareness of the need for web accessibility and to educate the web community on accessibility solutions, in order to make the web accessible to people with disabilities including older people with accessibility needs. EOWG's mission supports the work of other Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) groups within the WAI Technical Activity and the WAI International Program Office Activity.

The proposed charter will continue the previous mission of EOWG; work on the WAI-AGE project will conclude in October 2010, but EOWG will continue development of educational resources as listed in the charter and on the EOWG home page.

The initial Chair of this Working Group is Shawn Henry (W3C). Initial W3C resources for this group include Shawn Henry at 80% and Shadi Abou-Zahra at 10%. The duration of the renewed charter is through 30 June 2013.

5.2 Research and Development Working Group -- RDWG Charter

The mission of the Research and Development Working Group (RDWG) is to increase the incorporation of accessibility considerations into research on Web technologies, to identify projects researching Web accessibility, and suggest research questions 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. This mission is complementary to the work of other Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) groups within the WAI Technical Activity and the WAI International Program Office Activity.

This charter resumes the mission of the previous Research and Development Interest Group (RDIG), but with a different format. Substantial changes include changing this group from an Interest Group to a Working Group in order to reflect the need for a committed core of participants who take primary responsibility for an ongoing series of web seminars rather than relying primarily on staff support.

The initial Chair of this Working Group is Simon Harper (University of Manchester). Initial W3C resources for this group include Shadi Abou-Zahra at 10%. The duration of the charter is through 30 June 2013.

5.3 WAI Interest Group -- WAI IG Charter

The mission of the WAI Interest Group (IG) is to provide a forum for review of deliverables under development by other WAI groups; for exploration of barriers to accessibility of the Web and potential solutions for accessibility of the Web; and for exchanging information about activities related to Web accessibility around the world. The WAI Interest Group's mission supports the work of other Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) groups within the WAI Technical Activity and the WAI International Program Office Activity.

The proposed charter will continue the previous mission of the WCAG WG. There are no significant changes.

The initial Chair of this Interest Group is Shawn Henry (W3C). W3C resources for this group include Shawn Lawton Henry at 10%. The duration of the renewed charter is through 30 June 2013.

5.4 WAI Coordination Group (WAI CG Member Page) WAI CG Charter

The mission of the WAI Coordination Group is to coordinate among all WAI groups, and between WAI groups and other W3C groups as needed. This mission facilitates the work of all Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) groups within the WAI Technical Activity and the WAI International Program Office Activity.

The proposed charter will continue the previous mission of the WAI CG. There are no significant changes.

The initial Chair of this Coordination Group is Judy Brewer (W3C).  W3C resources for this group includes Judy Brewer at 10%.


Last updated $Date: 2012-12-14 05:21:38 $, by Judy Brewer (jbrewer @ w3.org).

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