W3C logoWeb Accessibility Initiative (WAI)         logo

WAI: Strategies, guidelines, and resources to make the Web accessible to people with disabilities

[DRAFT for discussion]
Requirements and Changelog for "How People with Disabilities Use the Web"

Note: Open items are shown with @@ and green highlighting.

Page Contents

About "How People with Disabilities Use the Web"

This document provides an introduction to use of the Web by people with disabilities. It illustrates some of their functional requirements when using Web sites and Web-based applications, by presenting different scenarios of people using the Web; describes how different functional limitations can create barriers to Web use and accessibility provisions that help ensure accessibility; and describes assistive technologies used by people with different needs. It provides supporting information for the guidelines and technical work of the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). An existing but outdated draft document is available at http://www.w3.org/WAI/EO/Drafts/PWD-Use-Web/Overview.html

Purpose, Goals, Objectives

  • Most Web designers and developers are unfamiliar with the design requirements of users with disabilities and older users, and need an explanatory and/or illustrative reference to help them understand the rationale for the accessibility provisions in WAI guidelines. In particular, the existing outdated document currently includes only one scenario of an older user, but is nevertheless a highly popular and in-demand online resource.
  • Provide an engaging scenario-based introduction to functional requirements of people with disabilities, expanded to better address the needs of older users, and updated to integrate references to WCAG 2.0 instead of WCAG 1.0, as well as references to ATAG and UAAG
  • Generalised disability descriptions will need particularly sensitive review


Primary audience:
  • Web designers, developers, managers, and marketers with a need to learn about the specific functional requirements of people with disabilities and older users
Secondary audience:
  • Anyone/everyone interested in better understanding Web accessibility


  • Select representative user scenarios of people with disabilities and older users using the Web in different ways and for different purposes, without attempting comprehensive coverage of every WCAG 2.0 provision. Highlight provisions from ATAG and UAAG as well.
  • WG Note / multi-chapter note
Structure (draft):
  • Introduction
  • TOC
  • User scenarios
  • Descriptions of disabilities and functional requirements
  • Descriptions of assistive technologies
  • Cross-mapped references to WCAG 2.0 success criteria, and to ATAG & UAAG
  • Review existing document and mark up updating needs relating to references to Web devices, Web technologies, and social uses of technologies.
  • Add multiple additional research-based scenarios describing older users with different types of functional needs, different ages, and different levels of familiarity with computers, mobile devices, and the Web.
  • Prepare, review and add multiple scenarios to address Web use by users with cognitive disabilities more comprehensively.
  • Update all WCAG 1.0 technical references to comparable WCAG 2.0 technical references, and adjust the linked user scenarios where needed for relevance




WAI-AGE task force and EOWG Discussions:

Related documents:

Other material:



30 October 2009

21 September 2009

08 September 2009

Starting notes:

Misc Notes

Alternative title brainstorms

Alternative approaches for the "Introduction" section of the "Overview" page

The Web is fundamentally designed to work for all people through its flexibility, as introduced in the _W3C - Accessibility_ page. When the Web meets this goal, it is accessible to people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive capabilities. Then people can communicate and interact without the barriers that many people face in the physical world.

However, when websites, web technologies, or web tools are badly designed – that is, when there is a disconnect between how they are designed and peoples’ capabilities –, they can create barriers that exclude people from using the Web.

This series of pages seeks to help web developers, designers, and others understand how people interact with the web in different ways, in order to design better web products that meet the fundamental intent of the Web to be accessible to all people.

Alternative approaches for the "Abilities and Diversity" section of the "Disabilities and Barriers" page

Atempt #1: Barriers arise when the design of products and services does not match the needs or preferences of the users. On the Web, people with disabilities are frequently confronted with websites and tools that are not designed to be accessibile. This creates barriers that exclude people with or without disabilities from using the Web.

Atempt #2: People have varying auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual abilities. They also have varying skills, preferences, and tools that impact how they interact with the Web. Some may not consider themselves to have disabilities but may equally benefit from accessibility features in products and services. In most cases this distinction is not important for designing websites and tools that are accessible for all.

Atempt #3: People have varying auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual abilities. They also have varying skills, preferences, and tools that impact how they interact with the Web. To design websites and tools that are accessible for all, web developers and designers need to recognize this broad diversity.

Atempt #4: There are many factors that can impact how people with or without disabilities use the Web. For instance, computer skills, language, and culture can have significant influence on the optimal design of websites and tools. Accessibility requirements are a key aspect of ensuring that the Web is usable by all.