Summary of User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0

22 June 2001

This version:
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This document is an appendix to:
Latest version of User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0:
Ian Jacobs, W3C
Jon Gunderson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Eric Hansen, Educational Testing Service


This informative appendix summarizes the principal goals and structure of "User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" [UAAG10].

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.

Publication as a Working Draft 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 W3C Working Drafts as other than "work in progress."

Please send comments about this document, including suggestions for additional techniques, 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.


The goal of "User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" (UAAG 1.0) is to explain to software developers how to improve the accessibility of mainstream browsers and multimedia players so that people with visual, hearing, cognitive, and physical disabilities will have improved access to the World Wide Web. The heart of the document is a set of requirements that, if satisfied, will lower barriers to accessibility. These requirements have been identified and prioritized by the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (UAWG). This document is the result of consensus-building within this W3C Working Group, whose participants include software developers, users with disabilities, and international experts in the field of accessibility technologies. This document has received substantial review within the Web community and by other W3C Working Groups.

UAAG 1.0 is the third of a trilogy of accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium. These three documents were designed to complement one another and present a consistent model for Web accessibility in which responsibilities for addressing the needs of users with disabilities are shared (and distributed among) authors, software developers, and specification writers. The other two documents are:

UAAG 1.0 explains the responsibilities of user agents in meeting the needs of users with disabilities. A user agent that conforms to these guidelines will enable access through its own user interface and through other internal facilities, including its ability to communicate with other technologies (especially assistive technologies). UAAG 1.0 is not aimed at developers of assistive technologies (e.g., screen magnifiers, screen readers, speech recognition software, alternative keyboards, braille devices, etc.), although these technologies will be essential to ensuring Web access for some users with disabilities.

Checkpoints and Guidelines

The heart of UAAG 1.0 consists of nearly ninety "checkpoints", each of which includes one or more requirements. The checkpoints are ranked according to their importance to accessibility (priority 1 for most important, then priority 2 and 3). The document also includes an introduction, a glossary, and a number of useful references.

Here are a few examples of checkpoints:

1.1 Full keyboard access. (P1)
  1. Ensure that the user can operate through keyboard input alone any user agent functionality available through the user interface.
4.3 Configure text colors. (P1)
  1. Allow global configuration of the foreground and background color of all visually rendered text, with an option to override foreground and background colors specified by the author or user agent defaults.
  2. Allow the user to choose from among the full range of colors supported by the operating environment.
7.1 Focus and selection conventions. (P1)
  1. Follow operating environment conventions that benefit accessibility when implementing the selection, content focus, and user interface focus.

Checkpoints are organized into twelve "guidelines". Each guideline expresses a general principle of accessible design. Here are a few examples of guidelines:

Please note that the requirements of UAAG 1.0 are the checkpoints, not the guidelines.


A user agent may satisfy the requirements of UAAG 1.0 in many different ways. The checkpoints of UAAG 1.0 have therefore been written to be independent of specific markup languages (e.g., the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) or Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)) and operating systems. To assist developers in understanding how to satisfy the requirements for specific technologies and operating systems, the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working Group has published a separate document entitled "Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" [UAAG10-TECHS]. The Techniques document includes references to other accessibility resources (such as platform-specific software accessibility guidelines), examples, and suggestions for approaches that may be part of satisfying the requirements of UAAG 1.0. Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 is expected to be updated more frequently than User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 in order to keep up with changing technologies and the advent of new Web technologies.

Conformance to UAAG 1.0

Conformance to UAAG 1.0 means that a user agent has satisfied a set of the document's requirements. Conformance is expected to be a strong indicator (but not a guarantee) of the accessibility of a user agent.

The conformance model of UAAG 1.0 has been designed to allow different types of user agents with different input and output capabilities to conform. At the same time, the model is designed so that:

For instance, user agents with the following capabilities might both conform:

UAAG 1.0 includes requirements for conformance claims, e.g., version information about the software components that together satisfy the checkpoints, information about the platforms on which they run, information about which markup languages are implemented as part of conformance, which requirements the user agent does not satisfy, and more.

We encourage developers to use the checklist [UAAG10-CHECKLIST] appendix to UAAG 1.0 as a tool for evaluating user agents for conformance.


For the latest version of any W3C specification please consult the list of W3C Technical Reports at http://www.w3.org/TR.

"Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0", J. Treviranus, C. McCathieNevile, I. Jacobs, and J. Richards, eds., 3 February 2000. This W3C Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/2000/REC-ATAG10-20000203/.
An appendix to this document lists all of the checkpoints, sorted by priority. The checklist is available in either tabular form or list form.
"Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0", I. Jacobs, J. Gunderson, E. Hansen, eds. The latest draft of the techniques document is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/UAAG10-TECHS/.
"User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0", I. Jacobs, J. Gunderson, E. Hansen, eds. The latest draft of the guidelines is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/UAAG10/.
"Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0", W. Chisholm, G. Vanderheiden, and I. Jacobs, eds., 5 May 1999. This W3C Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WAI-WEBCONTENT-19990505/.