Summary - Context - Technical Activity - International Program Office - Additional Information
This briefing package proposes renewals of the WAI Technical Activity and WAI International Program Office Activity for another three years.
Accessibility of the Web is of critical importance to millions of Web users with disabilities around the world. Web accessibility also benefits users without disabilities, for instance people accessing the Web from mobile devices. Over the past three years, W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has developed accessibility solutions at the level of Web technologies, guidelines, tools, and education and outreach. WAI has emerged as an authoritative resource during this time.
Interest in Web accessibility and demand for accessibility resources have increased greatly during the past several years. WAI has served as an effective forum to bring together the efforts of organizations around the world on Web accessibility. As WAI's work has progressed, new priorities have emerged for future work. The shared context for both WAI Activities is described in more detail below.
The WAI Technical Activity Proposal addresses:
The WAI International Program Office Activity Proposal addresses:
There is one newly proposed charter, for a Research and Development Interest Group.
WAI's initial phase started with a briefing package in February 1997. W3C announced its commitment to host WAI in April 1977. Availability of project resources enabled launching the WAI International Program Office in October, 1997. WAI's accomplishments to date are outlined in the section on additional information in this proposal, and individual WAI documents are available from the annotated list on the WAI Resources page.
We propose that the two WAI Activities be renewed and extended under the WAI Domain. This briefing package presents activity proposals consistent with the publicly available W3C Process which is currently in effect and also with the updated but not yet approved Member-confidential draft W3C Process.
This section answers the following questions from the W3C Process document:
It is even more important now than three years ago to ensure that the Web is accessible to people with visual, hearing, physical, and cognitive disabilities or neurological disabilities, including those with aging-related conditions, so that they may participate with others in the information society which has grown to include the online commercial world, educational opportunities, employment opportunities and workplace communication, government services, recreation, and more.
Many organizations are using W3C/WAI's existing guidelines and resources. However, there is a demand for more forms of implementation support, for instance:
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 Web accessibility solutions, and working closely with other W3C groups to ensure consideration of accessibility starting from the design stage of new technologies. There is an increased need to maintain this central forum in which industry, disability organizations, access researchers and government representatives can jointly develop consensus-based solutions for Web accessibility.
The majority of new Web technologies entail the possibility of creating new barriers to Web accessibility if dialog regarding accessibility requirements is not begun early and maintained throughout the development process. Moreover, as the Web expands, the technical issues are sometimes more difficult to address -- the increased number of technical specifications and the dependencies between them create new challenges when addressing accessibility issues.
Therefore priorities within the technology area will include reviewing and commenting on an expanding number of W3C technologies with regard to their support for accessibility. This area will also include expanded liaison with other industry consortia regarding harmonization with W3C technologies supporting accessibility, through review or advising where possible.
Continuation of WAI will also allow development of more implementation support resources for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG 1.0) and for implementation of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (ATAG 1.0) and User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (UAAG 1.0) in Web-based applications, as well as implementation support for evaluation and retrofitting tools; educational and outreach resources, and coordination with research efforts on accessibility issues related to use of the Web.
The marketplace for Web accessibility solutions is broad. It includes developers of Web content and designers and developers of Web sites who are interested in ensuring accessibility of their sites. Developers of Web-based applications also require information on how to make their products accessible. Organizations which monitor or provide quality assurance for Web-based information require means to assess the accessibility of Web sites. Developers of Web technologies, such as those within W3C working groups but also an increasing number of external consortia whose technologies are converging into Web space, likewise require information about how to ensure that new technologies meet the user requirements of people with disabilities.
Several factors influence the growing marketplace for information on Web accessibility:
WAI is recognized as an international coordination point for Web accessibility efforts and exchanging of resources. There is currently an awareness of the need for Web accessibility within many countries, and a variety of internet companies, user groups, accessibility research organizations, government agencies, and other organizations from around the world are working to address this. Close to a hundred of these organizations have chosen to participate in one or more of the WAI interest or working groups over the past three years, contributing ideas and resources, coordinating outreach efforts, and providing translations of WAI materials into other languages. These organizations are listed among members of current WAI groups.
There are several types of organizations which bear some relation to WAI's work. These include:
These organizations generally regard WAI as a crucial resource rather than as a competitor, and additional as a forum in which to participate in order to share resources and/or get feedback on their own developments.
The scope of the proposed WAI Technical Activity renewal includes work on:
The structure of 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 charter renewals.
W3C Team resources specified on a per-charter basis for WAI Technical Activity working groups below are funded partially from W3C Member funds and partially from funds contributed by WAI Sponsors.
Proposed timelines, ranging up to two years, are identified below for each proposed charter. The activity as a whole is proposed for a three-year period, with the expectation that the working groups will recharter as their initial terms expire.
The mission of the Protocols and Formats Working Group (PFWG) is to ensure that core technologies of the Web support accessibility for people with disabilities. This mission is consistent with and contributes to W3C's principles of promoting universal access and interoperability of the Web. With specific regard to accessibility requirements, this WG ensures that core technologies of the Web do not present barriers to individuals using assistive technologies and/or adaptive strategies to access the Web.
To the greatest extent possible, this WG explores and promotes barrier-free solutions to Web technologies by utilizing universal design approaches that go beyond solely accommodating disabilities, and render a broader benefit to the Web community.
Resources for this group include Daniel Dardailler at 25%; Charles McCathieNevile at 15%; and Judy Brewer at 5%. The timeline is dependent on progress of work in other W3C groups, and PFWG's primary role is to review the work of other groups; the duration of the renewed charter is through October 2002.
The mission of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (WCAG WG) is to produce the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, and to document accessible techniques for W3C Recommendations (such as XML, RDF, SMIL, SVG, and MathML) as well as specific other Web technologies such as ECMA Script, as guidance for Web content authors and developers to create Web content that is accessible and usable by the widest audience possible.
These activities continue W3C's work on guidelines for creating accessible content that began with WCAG 1.0. The history of this group has been documented in the "End of Charter Report for the Web Content Guidelines Working Group."
Resources for this group include Wendy Chisholm at 40%, Daniel Dardailler at 5%, and Judy Brewer at 5%. A detailed proposed timeline is available; the duration of the renewed charter is through May 2002.
The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AUWG) is being rechartered to perform the following tasks:
The scope of the AUWG's work under this charter is to support implementation of the W3C Recommendation Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines, and assess whether there is a need for a revision of that document.
Resources for this group include Charles McCathieNevile at 60%, and Judy Brewer at 5%. The AUWG expects to work primarily on the Techniques for the first year and then start developing requirements for a potential Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0; the duration of the renewed charter is through October 2002.
The mission of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (UAWG) is to produce guidelines for the development of accessible user agents, software that retrieves and renders Web content, including text, graphics, sounds, video, images, etc.
Resources for this group include Ian Jacobs at 45%, dropping to 20% after UAAG 1.0 becomes a W3C Recommendation, and Judy Brewer at 5%. The timeline includes returning the document to Last Call in October 2000; the duration of the renewed charter is through October 2001.
The mission of the Evaluation and Repair Tools Working Group (ERT WG) is:
The working group does this by maintaining a list of existing tools, developing new tools, and documenting techniques that tools may implement.
Resources for this group include Wendy Chisholm at 25% and Daniel Dardailler at 5%. The duration of this group is through October 2002.
The WAI International Program Office includes work on:
The structure of 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 charter renewals.
The W3C Team resources, specified on a per-charter basis for WAI International Program Office Activity groups below, are funded primarily from funds contributed by WAI Sponsors.
Initial timelines, ranging up to two years, are identified below for each proposed charter. This activity as a whole is proposed for a three-year period, with the expectation that working groups will recharter as their initial terms expire.
The mission of the EOWG is to develop strategies and resources for awareness and training, to educate the Web community regarding the need for Web accessibility and approaches to implementing Web accessibility. This mission is complementary to the work of other WAI groups within the WAI Technical Activity and the WAI International Program Office Activity. The EOWG is renewing its charter in order to develop additional education and outreach resources.
Resources for this group include Judy Brewer at 25%; Daniel Dardailler, Charles McCathieNevile, and Marja-Riitta Koivunen at 5% each; and two additional positions at 80% and 50% respectively. The duration of the renewed charter is through October 2002.
This is a newly proposed charter, to address work that has been a stated WAI goal but that there have been insufficient resources to address.
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.
Resources for this group include Wendy Chisholm at 30%, Marja-Riitta Koivunen at 15%, and Judy Brewer at 10%. The duration of this new charter is through October 2002.
The mission of the WAI IG 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. Participation on the WAI IG mailing list has increased to over 400 subscribers, with an active level of discussion. The WAI IG is renewing its charter in order to continue its role as a forum for discussions on Web accessibility.
Resources for this group include Judy Brewer and Daniel Dardailler at 5% each, with a to-be-announced at 25%. The duration of the renewed charter is through October 2002.
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. It is renewing its charter in order to continue coordination of WAI groups.
Resources for this group include Judy Brewer at 10% and Daniel Dardailler at 5%. The duration of the renewed charter is through August 2002.
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 for WAI are available.
WAI's accomplishments during the past three years include production of cross-disability accessibility guidelines, technical references, 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 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 and Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, have been widely cited as the authoritative reference on making Web sites accessible. Some materials such as the Quick Tips to Make Accessible Web Sites reference cards, have been distributed to over 150,000 people and translated into 15 languages.
Active membership of current WAI groups is linked from the home pages of each WAI group.
The WAI International Program Office is separately funded from W3C Member activities, and appreciates the sponsorship of governments and corporations that have shown their leadership in Web accessibility and universal design.
WAI receives additional sponsorship beyond W3C Membership funds. WAI sponsors include the US Department of Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research; European Commission's Information Society Technology Programme; Government of Canada, Industry Canada's Assistive Devices Industry Office; IBM; Microsoft Corporation; and Verizon Foundation. Past sponsors and contributors include the US National Science Foundation, the EC Telematics Programme for Disabled and Elderly, Lotus Development Corporation, Massachusetts Association for the Blind, NCR, and WinWriters. Information on how to become a WAI sponsor is available.
Last updated 29 November 2000, by Judy Brewer (email@example.com).