Unified Web Accessibility Guidelines
Last updated January 20, 1998
Changes between version 7.2 and 8
- This is the last official Trace guidelines. Version 8 is being used as the working
draft for the WAI's guidelines.
- Change in format
- Created a "5+1" layer approach:
- Web Access: Why Is It Important? (in 2 pages or less)
A brief introduction to the issues around web access for executives responsible for
- Understanding Disabilities and Web Access Issues
A discussion of the different types of disabilities and their effect on access to the web
- A series of Check Lists
- Checklist for web authors - about two printed pages
- Checklist for user agent (browser) developers
- Checklist for web server developers
- Checklist for web tool developers
- A series of Guidelines
- Guidelines for web authors - about six printed pages
- Guidelines for user agent (browser) developers
- Guidelines for web server developers
- Guidelines for web tool developers
- The Unified Website Access Guidelines Master Document
The melting pot of issues and guidelines for all of the previously listed groups.
- Web Access Resource Site
A website containing extended discussions, case studies, demonstrations, tools, references
to other guidelines and efforts related to web access, etc.
- Version 7.2 is the basis for the master document. The author guidelines are
similar to previous versions of the "Quick Reference" with more examples and
several new guidelines. The check lists are a new development.
- The final layer, the resource area, is still under development.
- Lots of new guidelines, examples and information. Every section has been revamped.
Log of changes to version 8
This is not a complete list of all changes made, there have been so many (smile)
but it covers the major ones.
- Added links from the Author Checklist to the Author Guidelines, and from the Author
Guidelines to the Central Reference Document and HTML 4.0 Specification. 1998.01.20
- (change to the reference guide only) A few of the early sections of the HTML 4.0
recommendation were reorganized into one fewer section (reduced from 25 total to
24). We updated the master document to reflect the changes by renumbering effected
sections and updating the names of the place-holders. 1998.01.09
- Got rid of the guidelines that each page should have a title, since titles are required
in 4.0 and is not an accessibility issue (more usable). (1997.12)
- Deleted the rest of the section since both items dealt with color issues. Except for
images, if they have followed the rest of the guidelines color contrast becomes a moot
point, no? UNLESS the user doesn't know how to override color with either style sheets or
browser settings. (1997.12)
- Adding more detail to the quick reference (particularly just examples). (1997.12)
- Changed "tag" to "element" where appropriate (most instances) in all
three versions of the document (ala Jason White) (1997.12)
- Phill's grammatical suggestions were made. (1997.12)
- Where appropriate, changed "screen reader" to "assistive technology"
as per Jason White's comments. We did not change all instances because most instances are
specific examples where screen readers have problems and we are assuming that future
assistive technologies will not inherit these problems. (1997.12)
- More qualification that it is "dumb" screen readers having all of the problems
not markup aware products (ala Daniel Dardailler). Have changed these references to
something more like, "most current screen readers (which do not interpret the
- "Required" guidelines are grouped before "Recommended" (within each
Language information and text direction
- Deleted the date format recommendation (ala Chetz Colwell and others). (1997.12)
- In response to "Appendix A states that alt-text should be simple, but perhaps
this should probably be stated in the guideline itself. If not, the guideline should refer
to the Appendix." Added "Notice that alternate text is a brief
description. >8snip8< Several tips and tricks concerning
alternate text can be found in the appendix." (1997.12)
Applets (and Scripts)
- Tried to generalize these solutions in much the same way as we did images and a/v (i.e.
lots of reworking here). (1997.12)
- Combined applets and scripts into one section. (1997.12)
- Added "Scripts and applets are keyboard operable." (1997.12)
Video and Audio
- Recommendation that all audio played automatically have a visual notification. As long
as the author provides a description/transcript the browser should load this if user
chooses not to load audio/video. But...is there a tagging issue? Is this a problem just
for today? Maybe we shouldn't delete?? (1997.12)
- Ala Chetz Colwell, added the conditional that link phrases not get too verbose. new
guideline is: Link phrases make sense when read out of context (but are not too verbose).
- In response to "13.5 Use of graphics decreases cognitive load, Issue It seems
important to mention that the design of effective icons and buttons is not a trivial task
(for example, are the functions of all the icons used in Microsoft Word immediately
intuitive?), and that the design of graphics to support navigation by people with
cognitive disabilities may be even more difficult. There is much debate about whether
images and icons mean the same thing to all people, even those who have so-called
"normal" cognitive abilities." The following phrase was added
"Keep in mind that the design of effective icons is not a trivial task due to the
variety of possible interpretations by people based on personal differences."
- Added guidelines and examples for semantic markup of tables. (1997.12)
- Added - Provide descriptions of the layout and purpose of frames and how multiple frames
relate to each other. (1998.01.09)
- For long lists of selections, group items into a hierarchy. (1998.01.09)
- Image maps have not been used to create graphical buttons. (1997.12)
- Alt-text is provided for images used as buttons. (1997.12)
- Lots of examples to the checklist. (1997.12)
Tips and Tricks
- Create a single downloadable file for documents that exist as a series of separate
- Place distinguishing information at the beginning of headings, paragraphs, lists, etc.
to decrease the amount of sifting readers perform to find important information.
Structure and Navigation ( renamed to "Good
Web Site Design Practices")
- Added: Nothing within the site prevents keyboard
- Items that do not fit under "tips and tricks" which are also site wide good
ideas have been moved to this section. (1997.12)
Created new section (Tips and tricks to further enhance the usability of pages)
- This section includes items that we didn't want to rate as "Required" or
"Recommended." Most of these were tagged at the meeting as needing to go further
back in the document. (1997.12)
- We were able to condense it down into two levels, "Required" and
"Recommended." Currently using style sheets to make the words icons (as Liddy
suggested) but then they don't appear that way in older browsers so it is hard to easily
pick out which are required vs recommended... (1997.12)
- Replace "today" and "tomorrow" with "new" and
"interim." Those recommendations that are "timeless" are not
marked, but the solutions might be. (1997.12)
Version 8 open issues
- "Visual notifications are provided for all sounds that are played
automatically." To be handled by the browser? However, need a spot for the author to
include what will be displayed by the browser (like the alt for images).
- "For very short sounds, a brief description is included in the link to the sound
file using the TITLE attribute."
- DECORATION VS CONTENT
- MARKING STRUCTURE
- affect of SMIL on guidelines for a/v. SMIL handle streaming a/v??
- "Alternate text is provided for all images and image maps." We still need
to figure out how to handle decorative.
- Leonard Kasday's group has created page with some examples and suggestions for alt-text
available at http://www.att.com/style/alt
text.html based on their survey data gathered February of 1997.
- We're in the midst of gathering the comments from the wai listservs and others. http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-ig/1997OctDec/subject.ht
Misc other questions
- What do we do RE XML?? what was the consensus on this?
- What recommendations should we make in the guidelines for using meta data and/or LINK,
- Should we add recommendations in regards to grouping rows (w/thead, tfoot and tbody),
grouping columns (colgroup and col)?? We've include info about scope and headers for
including meta information about cells, the groupings are important also.
- What should be our priorities for Dynamic Pages? Should a working group be created?
People seemed to think it was an issue, but we didn't hear a particular ruling on creating
- Education and Outreach should decide which audiences we want to target with 2 Page
Introductions (such as managers, teachers...)
- We will not decide on the recommendation "All images used as anchors have
descriptive titles" until we see what browsers are doing today (and how
alt-text issue resolved).
- Ala Chetz Colwell: "Section 14.3 Viewing and interacting with images,
Recommendations for authors, 3, paragraph 3. I like the suggestion that page authors who
use D-links could include an explanation of what it represents, but this may fit better in
Appendix A, Design notes, with a reference to the Appendix in the guideline."
left as is for now.
- Also via Chetz: "10.1 Text formatting, Issues, Tags affected I (Chetz Colwell)
like the idea of naming the relevant tags in each section. However, in this case perhaps
they should be listed along with each Issue, rather than being listed at the end of all
the Issues. This also applies to Section 11 (and others?)."
- Ala Daniel Dardailler - "[He'd] like to have the quick and check list in some
sort of prioritized order, not just the header of the guideline doc. Some kind of top 5
and then the rest."
- There is no recommendation regarding the <Q> element. Should there