[How WAI Develops Accessibility Guidelines]
NOTE: This document is an early, unapproved draft and should not be referenced or quoted under any circumstances.
WAI develops Web accessibility guidelines to help make the Web accessible to people with disabilities. To do so, we bring together people from around the world from industry, disability organizations, accessibility researchers, government, and others interested in Web accessibility. WAI strives to:
- ensure broad community input
- develop consensus solutions
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) develops Web standards such as HTML, XML, CSS, etc. The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is part of W3C and follows the W3C Process for developing Web standards. W3C documents, called Technical Reports,include:
- W3C Recommendations are formal Web Standards that go
through an extensive review and approval process (described below). These
are stable, long-term technical specifications.
The W3C Recommendations that WAI has developed are:
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines: WCAG Overview, WCAG 1.0 (May 1999)
- Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines: ATAG Overview, ATAG 1.0 (February 2000)
- User Agent Accessibility Guidelines: UAAG Overview, UAAG 1.0 (December 2002)
- W3C Notes are advisory, not standards. They have a
less rigrous approval process within a W3C
Working Group. Notes can be updated more frequently to cover
up-to-date best practices for implementing standards.
Most of WAI's supporting documents to help implement WAI Guidelines are Notes. For example, Techniques for UAAG 1.0 gives specific details on how to meet UAAG.
WAI's W3C Recommendations, W3C Notes, and WAI Resources are developed in WAI Working Groups with input from the public|community. Participating in WAI describes ways that you can contribute to WAI's accessibility work, including reviewing and commenting on WAI Guidelines as they are being developed.
While you can comment on documents at any time, it is better if you comment on technical reports early in the proccess, as described in the next section.
[[@@W3C has a formal process for soliciting review and comments on drafts, and progressing a document|Technical Report towards a W3C Recommendation. @@stages a document goes through on its way to becoming a W3C Recommendation @@ notes on timing]]
- Working Draft: Public Working Drafts are published and announced specifically to ask for review and input from the public|community. Often there are specific issues that a Working Group would particularly like input on. Usually multiple Working Drafts [of a document, as they mature] are published; for example, there have been 9 Working Drafts of WCAG 2.0.
- Last Call Working Draft: The Last Call Working Draft
stage means that a Working Group believes it has addressed all
substantive|@@significant issues and the document is stable. W3C strongly encourages reviewers to comment at this stage,
rather than waiting until later.
A Working Group must formally address all comments received at this and later stages [@@ only CR]. It often takes several weeks or months for a Working Group to address comments, document resolutions, and make necessary revisions. If there are substantive changes, the Working Group publishes another @@Last Call Working Draft before moving to the next stage.
- Candidate Recommendation: The main purpose of
Candidate Recommendation is to gather implementation experience; that is,
for Web developers to follow the technical specifications in their Web
development projects to make sure they works in the real world.
@@NOT@@This is the last stage for public|community comment.]]
When a Working Group announces Candidate Recommendation it includes a date for sending comments, and may also include an estimated amount of time expected in this stage to gather sufficient implementations.
- Proposed Recommendation: Proposed Recommendation @@seeks endorsement@@ At this step, W3C seeks endorsement of the stable technical report. @@ is the last stage of the process, where it is sent for final endorsement to the W3C Advisory Committee, which is made up of one representative from each W3C Member. This stage[review period] lasts at least 4 weeks.
- W3C Recommendation (Web Standard): Recommendations have received significant support from the public|community, and endorsement by W3C Members and the W3C Director. W3C Recommendations are similar to the standards published by other organizations.
That was a simplified description of the stages. For definitive version, see the W3C Process Document, Section 7: W3C Technical Report Development Process.
When WAI documents are at the stages above, we send announcements through several channels, including:
Follow the links above for directions on how to subscribe to get announcements from WAI. The announcments tell you where to send comments.