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

Protocols and Formats Working Group (PFWG) Public Page

Page Contents


Face to Face meeting 23 - 25 January 2014 in Toronto, ON, Canada.

11 December 2013: Published WAI-ARIA 1.0 User Agent Implementation Guide second Last Call Working Draft. Please comment by 6 December 2013.

28 March 2013: Published Role Attribute 1.0 Recommendation.

7 March 2013: Published WAI-ARIA Authoring Practices updated Working Draft. Please comment by 5 April 2013.

3 January 2012: Published Media Accessibility User Requirements First Public Working Draft. Please comment by 10 February 2012.

18 January 2011: Published WAI-ARIA 1.0 Candidate Recommendation. Read the WAI-ARIA publication announcement. Please comment by 25 February 2011.



General business teleconferences are held from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm Boston time, each Wednesday. Other task forces and sub-groups meet at various times during the week; see information on the specific task force for more specific information.

Telephone details: On the PSTN network dial +1.617.761.6200. Enter passcode 92473# from a touch-tone phone. If you have a SIP client you can use 0092473@voip.w3.org. A SIP server is not required; this is a way to avoid long distance telephone charges. During the conference you can mute yourself by entering 61# and unmute with 60#. The system will acknowledge recognizing these commands with a rapid, three-tone confirmation. Mobile phone users should use this.

There will also be an IRC channel available. The server is irc.w3.org channel #pf. If you encounter problems with a corporate firewall, you may point a Web browser to irc.w3.org for Web interface. See the IRC Project pages for more on this service.

Information on the various robots used in IRC to faciliate the calls is available from the teleconference cheat sheet.

Face to Face meetings

The PFWG holds face-to-face meetings in various locations as needed. Information about upcoming and past meetings is in the PFWG Meetings page. In the past, PFWG meetings were held in W3C Member space; information about those meetings is available in the PFWG Group Meetings page.

Upcoming: Face to Face meeting 11 - 12 November 2013 in Shenzhen, China as part of TPAC 2013.

Current Work

Public Working Drafts under review

Follow the instructions for commenting page to submit comments. Submit comments online (preferred) or by email to to public-pfwg-comments@w3.org (Archive).

Technology Review

W3C invites public comment on the Working Drafts in Last Call. The WAI and the Protocols and Formats Working Group invite anyone who perceives an access problem with these drafts to comment. Submit your comments as directed in the individual drafts; the email addresses vary from document to document.

Technical Specifications

Please note that Editors' Drafts:

Edits to documents are posted regularly to the publicly visible editors' draft. People interested in following the work can subscribe to the public-pfwg-cvs mailing list to receive notification when changes are checked in. Techniques and examples of how to apply these technologies to create rich internet applications are discussed on the wai-xtech mailing list. See participation for how to follow or get involved in this work.

Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA)

WAI-ARIA, the Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite, defines a way to make Web content and Web applications more accessible to people with disabilities. It especially helps with dynamic content and advanced user interface controls developed with Ajax, HTML, JavaScript, and related technologies.

The work has been divided into five documents.  The current editor's working drafts of these are:

Roadmap for Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA Roadmap) (public editor's draft)
This roadmap that describes the problem, what W3C specifications will be used to correct the problem, and the timeline for the new specifications. See also the Public Working Draft of the WAI-ARIA Roadmap.
Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) (public editor's draft)
This specification provides an ontology of roles, states, and properties that set out an abstract model for accessible interfaces and can be used to improve the accessibility and interoperability of Web Content and Applications. This information can be mapped to accessibility frameworks that use this information to provide alternative access solutions. Similarly, this information can be used to change the rendering of content dynamically using different style sheet properties. The result is an interoperable method for associating behaviors with document-level markup. See also the Public version of WAI-ARIA.
WAI-ARIA Primer (public editor's draft)
Explains the accessibility problems posed by hybrid technologies such as DHTML and AJAX and introduces the technologies to map controls, AJAX live regions, and events to accessibility APIs. Also describes new navigation techniques to mark common Web elements such as menus, primary content, secondary content, banner information and other types of Web structures. See also the Public Working Draft of the WAI-ARIA Primer .
WAI-ARIA Authoring Practices (public editor's draft)
Provides recommended approaches to create accessible Web content using WAI-ARIA roles, states, and properties to make widgets, navigation, and behaviors accessible. Also describes considerations that might not be evident to most implementors from the WAI-ARIA specification alone. See also the Public Working Draft of the WAI-ARIA Authoring Practices.
WAI-ARIA User Agent Implementation Guide (public editor's draft)
Describes how user agents should map WAI-ARIA features to platform accessibility APIs. See also the Public Working Draft of the WAI-ARIA User Agent Implementation Guide.

Formal Public Working Drafts of these documents can be found from the WAI-ARIA Overview Page.

Role Attribute

The Role Attribute (public editor's draft) allows the author to annotate markup languages with machine-extractable semantic information about the purpose of an element. Use cases include accessibility, device adaptation, server-side processing, and complex data description. This attribute can be integrated into any markup language. The role attribute is necessary to support WAI-ARIA to define roles in XML-based languages, when the languages do not define their own role attribute. See also the Public version of the Role Attribute.

Media Accessibility User Requirements

Media Accessibility User Requiremenst (public editors' draft) aggregates the requirements of an accessibility user that the W3C HTML5 Accessibility Task Force has collected with respect to audio and video on the Web. See also the Public Working Draft of Media Accessibility User Requirements.

Task Forces

WAI-ARIA Task Force

This task force develops the WAI-ARIA technology. Currently we are processing comments received on the latest ARIA Working Draft. ARIA issues are tracked in the PFWG public comments tracker. The section on WAI-ARIA has further information about how to follow this work.

WAI-ARIA User Agent Implementation Task Force

The publicly visible User Agent Implementation Task Force is a joint task force of the PFWG and the HTML Working Group (HTML WG). The objective of UAI TF is to develop guidelines for interoperable user agent implementation of the WAI-ARIA specification. Discussion and meeting information is posted to the WAI-XTech mailing list with the subject prefix "aapi". The section on WAI-ARIA has further information about how to follow this work.

HTML Accessibility Task Force

The HTML Accessibility Task Force is a joint task force of the PFWG and the HTML Working Group (HTML WG). The objective of this task force is to review accessibility considerations for HTML 5. The work of this task force is mainly tracked in the HTML Accessibility Task Force wiki. The task force currently has a number of sub-groups focusing on Accessibility API Mapping ARIA integration, bug triage, canvas, media, and Text Alternatives .

Specification Accessibility Task Force

The Specification Accessibility Task Force assists the Working Group with accessibility review of W3C specifications. Currently this work is done by the working group as a whole.


In addition to the WAI-ARIA documents and the Role Attribute, the PFWG has been responsible in the past for the incorporation of a number of the accessibility improvements introduced into W3C formats from HTML 4.0 onward including CSS, SMIL, SVG and VoiceXML. Some specific publications developed in service of this work:

Inaccessibility of Visually-Oriented Anti-Robot Tests: Problems and Alternatives
This paper evaluates the accessibility problems with CAPTCHA, a visual verification system popular on many Web sites, and evaluates a number of more-accessible alternatives to the same problems CAPTCHA claims to solve.
Natural Language Usage -- Issues and Strategies for Universal Access to Information
This paper suggests a possible implementation of a language annotation system to clarify meaning in potentially ambiguous terms.
XML Accessibility Guidelines
The discussions for XAG take place on the public wai-xtech list. This specification is developed by the Working Group.
Some of these are are discussed in the following education notes:

About the PFWG



The PFWG looks at the formal Web technologies (protocols, formats, etc.) from an accessibility perspective. Best practices for using these technologies are addressed by other WAI groups, producing guidelines explaining how to use the technologies.

The principal output of this working group is feedback to other W3C working groups developing specification, on how to ensure that their work can allow for accessibility. This does not generally create deliverables in the form of W3C publications.

In particular, the group tries to review at least every Last Call working draft.

The PFWG also works on the XML Accessibility Guidelines (XAG).


The charter of the working group outlines the goals, work methods, and requirements for participation. It also explains why the working drafts and email archives of this group are in the members-only area. This activity is conducted by the W3C as part of its Web Accessibility Initiative


The participation page provides details about how to join the group.

To follow the work of the WG without joining, the following resources are available:

Mailing Lists

Anyone can join the wai-xtech and public-pfwg-cvs mailing lists. Follow Instructions for subscribing to the PFWG mailing lists; in short, send email to wai-pf-call@w3.org indicating which list you would like to join.

Some areas of related work

Protocols and Formats

On the growing edge of the Web we find Protocols and Formats such as:

Other WAI Groups

Most accessibility issues involve cooperative work between the PFWG and its sister groups within the WAI, particularly

Patent Disclosures

W3C maintains a public list of any patent disclosures made in connection with the deliverables of the group; that page also includes instructions for disclosing a patent.

Janina Sajka <janina@rednote.net> - Chair, PFWG
Michael Cooper <cooper@w3.org> - Staff Contact