User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0

W3C Candidate Recommendation, 12 September 2001

This version:
(Formats: single HTML, plain text, gzip PostScript, gzip PDF, gzip tar file of HTML, zip archive of HTML)
Latest version:
Previous version:
Ian Jacobs, W3C
Jon Gunderson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Eric Hansen, Educational Testing Service
Authors and Contributors:
See acknowledgements.


This document provides guidelines for designing user agents that lower barriers to Web accessibility for people with disabilities (visual, hearing, physical, and cognitive). User agents include HTML browsers and other types of software that retrieve and render Web content. A user agent that conforms to these guidelines will promote accessibility through its own user interface and through other internal facilities, including its ability to communicate with other technologies (especially assistive technologies). Furthermore, all users, not just users with disabilities, are expected to find conforming user agents to be more usable.

In addition to helping developers of HTML browsers, media players, etc., this document will also benefit developers of assistive technologies because it explains what types of information and control an assistive technology may expect from a conforming user agent. Technologies not addressed directly by this document (e.g., technologies for braille rendering) will be essential to ensuring Web access for some users with disabilities.

Status of this document

This section describes the status of this document at the time of its publication. Other documents may supersede this document. The latest status of this document series is maintained at the W3C.

This is the 12 September 2001 Candidate Recommendation of "User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0". W3C publishes a technical report as a Candidate Recommendation to indicate that the document is believed to be stable, and to encourage implementation by the developer community. Candidate Recommendation status is described in section 5.2.3 of the Process Document. The UAWG resolved to request to advance to Candidate Recommendation at its 30 August 2001 teleconference.

The User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (UAWG) expects to request that the Director advance this document to Proposed Recommendation once the Working Group has demonstrated two implementations of each requirement. The UAWG, working closely with the developer community, expects to show these implementations by the end of December 2001. This estimate is based on the UAWG's initial implementation report. The UAWG expects to revise this report over the course of the implementation period.

This document incorporates resolutions of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working Group to all issues raised during the third last call review of the 9 April 2001 version. A snapshot of the third last call issues list is available, as is the disposition of comments (which includes objections).

A list of changes to this document is available.

Publication as a Candidate Recommendation does not imply endorsement by the W3C Membership. This is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to cite this document as other than "work in progress."

Please send comments about this document to the public mailing list w3c-wai-ua@w3.org; public archives are available.

This document is part of a series of accessibility documents published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). WAI Accessibility Guidelines are produced as part of the WAI Technical Activity. The goals of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working Group are described in the charter.

A list of current W3C Recommendations and other technical documents can be found at the W3C Web site.

Table of contents

An appendix to this document [UAAG10-SUMMARY] summarizes the document's principal goals and structure.

Another appendix to this document [UAAG10-CHECKLIST] lists all checkpoints for convenient reference (e.g., as a tool for developers to evaluate software for conformance).

Note: With a user agent that implements HTML 4 [HTML4] access keys, readers may navigate directly to the table of contents via the "c" character. Users may have to use additional keyboard strokes depending on their operating environment.

Related resources

A separate document, entitled "Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" [UAAG10-TECHS], provides suggestions and examples of how each checkpoint might be satisfied. It also includes references to other accessibility resources (such as platform-specific software accessibility guidelines) that provide additional information on how a user agent may satisfy each checkpoint. The techniques provided in "Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" are informative examples only, and other strategies may be used or required to satisfy the checkpoints. The Techniques document is expected to be updated more frequently than the current guidelines. Developers, W3C Working Groups, users, and others are encouraged to contribute techniques for incorporation into the Techniques document.

The Web Accessibility Initiative provides other resources and educational materials to promote Web accessibility. Resources include information about accessibility policies, links to translations of WAI materials into languages other than English, information about specialized user agents and other tools, accessibility training resources, and more.