Protocols and Formats Working Group Charter (PFWG)

This charter is written in accordance with section 4.2.2 of the W3C Process Document.

Table of Contents

  1. Mission Statement
  2. Scope and Deliverables
  3. Duration
  4. Success Criteria
  5. Milestones
  6. Confidentiality
  7. Dependencies/Relationship with other W3C Activities
  8. Coordination with External Groups
  9. Communication Mechanisms
  10. Voting Mechanisms
  11. Participation
  12. How to join the WG
  13. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

1. Mission Statement

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.

2. Scope and Deliverables

The scope of the PFWG includes:

The scope of PFWG does not include:

Deliverables of PFWG include:

Documentation in various formats (including e-mail correspondence, dependency statements, lists of requirements, formal review comments, proposals for resolutions to dependencies, working drafts, minutes of meetings) compatible with the process and timelines of W3C groups developing technologies with which PFWG has identified dependencies.

A liaison matrix (W3C Member-only link) which is continually updated and which documents schedules, nature, and status of deliverables of all W3C working groups with which PFWG has identified dependencies. This liaison matrix should include all information which can assist in describing the nature of the dependencies listed, the timelines for review and comment, and the status of any dialog regarding those dependencies.

Detailed schedules, deliverables, and deadlines will be available on the WG home page. In addition the W3C Member-only mailing list will be used as an archive to track the various working papers PFWG has generated.

3. Duration

This Working Group is scheduled to last for 24 months, from November 2000 through October 2002.

4. Success Criteria

The main criterion of success for PFWG is that W3C Recommendations released during the operation of the WG do not contain barriers to Web accessibility, and that they enable and promote Web accessibility (we note that this criterion for success is dependent on the success of communications with other W3C working groups). This should be done by timely review and comment on all W3C technologies with which the WG has established dependencies.

5. Milestones

Milestones for this group vary depending on W3C agenda for releasing new technologies. A separate document indicating upcoming reviews, dependencies, telecon agenda, etc, will be maintained on the group home page.

A tentative schedule of face-to-face meetings for the next 9 months is given here.

December 2000
Face to Face meeting, December 4-5, Washington DC, USA
Winter 2000 - 2001
Face to Face meeting, West Coast, USA (location and host to be determined)

6. Confidentiality

Access to email discussions and to documents developed by the working group will be limited to W3C members and invited experts, unless released for publication by the joint agreement of the working group chairs, the W3C staff contact and the WAI domain leader. Working group members are required to honor the confidentiality of the group's work, until such time that the work is publicly released.

This is to allow free and open discussion between PFWG and other W3C working groups operating in member-confidential space.

Occasionally, individual PFWG meetings will be open to invited experts to work on specific topics that do not require a confidentiality blanket (e.g. topics that are based on publicly available documents).

7. Dependencies/Relationship with other W3C Activities

The role of the PFWG is mainly to review technologies developed by all the other groups within W3C, therefore it has dependencies with almost every other W3C WG.

PFWG works horizontally across all other areas of W3C and advises them about the requirements of accessibility and asks them to review document prepared by the Working group, covering proposals for extensions or changes to existing or future Web standards.

The specific dependency statements between the individual W3C group and PFWG is maintained by the PFWG chairs in a liaison matrix (W3C Member-only page), listing upcoming documents for review, open issues, etc, but should also be addressed in each W3C group charter.

For example, as of September 2000, the following W3C activities -- DOM (DOM3), XML (Packaging, Guidelines), HTML (Event, XForm, XHTML 2.0), CSS/XSL (CSS3, FO), SVG, VoiceBrowser (SSML), ECommerce (MicroPayment Markup), and SMIL (SMIL 2.0) -- are on the PFWG's agenda for review and comment on their work over the next three months.

For all these groups, participants in PFWG have access to the archived mailing lists of the group, which should facilitate the tracking of ongoing development at early stage of their design. When issues arise related to a given W3C group, they are first developed in the PFWG group, and then notified by the PFWG chair(s) to the chair(s) of the W3C group. Further discussions on a topic happen through processes and timelines appropriate to each WG procedure (some send a representative to PFWG to explain, some invite a PFWG participants to meetings, etc)

In addition, coordination with other WAI groups working on Guidelines (Web Content, User Agent, Authoring Tool) and on tools (Evaluation & Repair) is done in the WAI Coordination Group (W3C Member-only page) forum, on which both PFWG co-chairs sit.

8. Coordination with External Groups

Outside W3C, these and other groups are working on protocols and formats relating to the Web. The PFWG makes its best effort to liaise with these groups on case-by-case basis.

WAP Forum
Working on Wireless Application Protocols (there's already a W3C/WAP Forum Coordination Group where on the PFWG chair sits)
Working on ebXML and vertical market XML applications
Working of Biztalk framework and vertical market XML applications
Working of Electronic Book format
Daisy Consortium
Publishes talking books for people with visual impairments.
IETF Working Groups, e.g. CONNEG
Looking at capability to use rich media descriptions for Content Negotiation.
ISO HTML committee
User's Guide to ISO/IEC 15445:1998 HyperText Markup Language (HTML)
VRML/Web3D Consortium
Working on the VRML 3D format
Java Accessibility
The Java Accessibility classes part of the JFC
Standard ECMA-262 ECMAScript Language Specification

9. Communication Mechanisms

9.1 Email

The archived member-only mailing list is the primary means of discussion within the group.

9.2 Web

The group maintains a public page and a W3C Member-only home page.

9.3 Phone Meeting

The PFWG meets bi-weekly (every other week) except when needed when it meets weekly to address a greater volume of W3C documents requiring accessibility review.

9.4 Face-to-face Meetings

Face to face meetings will be arranged 3 to 4 times a year, rotating location between US west coast, east coast, Europe, and occasionally Pacific/Australia. Meeting details are made available on the W3C Member Calendar and from the W3C Member-only Working Group page

9.5 Communication with the public

In addition to its public home page which should contain up to date information about the technologies under review (even if the details of those technologies or review issues cannot yet be made public), public discussions of PFWG related issues will occur on the WAI IG list.

10. Voting Mechanisms

The Group works by consensus. In the event of failure to achieve consensus, the Group may resort to a vote as described in the Process Document. Invited experts are allowed to vote.

Escalation: Appeals from Working Group decisions may be made first to the WAI Coordination Group (through its chair) and then to the W3C team following the procedures established by the W3C Process Document (first the domain leader and then the director).

11. Participation

The PFWG seeks to combine expertise from those with knowledge of Web technologies and those with knowledge of assistive technologies and adaptive strategies.

Given the broad scope of Web technologies and the diversity of materials to cover in this group, the participation level mentioned in the next paragraphs must be interpreted in the context of individual technologies under review by PFWG at any given period. In other words, a PFWG participant serving as an expert on DOM will be required to fulfill the participation commitment to PFWG only when DOM related items are addressed by the group, and will be released from this commitment when, for instance, XSL issues are debated.

For W3C Members

Requirements for meeting attendance and timely response are described in the W3C Process document. PFWG participation (attending meetings, reviewing documents and preparing drafts) is expected to consume one-half to one day per week.

W3C Members may also offer to review one or more working drafts from the group for clarity, consistency, technical merit, fitness for purpose and conformance with other W3C specifications. The only participation requirement is to provide the review comments by the agreed-to date.

Individual members will find this a stimulating and gratifying work experience. Member companies who contribute their employees' worktime will find this a cost-effective way to sharpen their focus on emerging-media markets.

For invited experts

Interested individuals, particularly people with disabilities and adaptive technology experts will be sought and welcomed as W3C invited experts to give the working group access to the kinds of knowledge required. Invited experts are encouraged to adopt the same requirements for meeting attendance and timely response as are required of W3C Members. Invited experts are subject to the same requirement for information disclosure as are required of W3C Members and they have to agree to the W3C invited experts and collaborators agreement.

For W3C Team

The W3C team will ensure that all W3C technologies that have accessibility dependencies are identified and brought to the attention of the PFWG chair. In addition, the mailing lists, public and Group pages will be adequately maintained and public Working Drafts made available on the Technical Reports page by the team.

The PFWG is co-chaired by Alfred S. Gilman ( and Daniel Dardailler (, who is also acting as W3C staff contact and activity lead. Judy Brewer (, is the WAI domain leader.

Daniel Dardailler spends 25% of his time on PFWG; Charles McCathieNevile 15%; Judy Brewer 5%.

Resources of additional W3C team members will be required for some of the deliverables, should the conditions for starting these deliverables be met.

12. How to join the WG

Information about how to join the Working Group is available in a separate page.

13. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

The purpose of the PFWG is to review and publish documents available royalty-free to everyone, following W3C standard IPR terms. Therefore, anyone commenting in the PFWG will be considered to offer these ideas as contributions to the PFWG documents. Organizations with IPR in areas related to the PFWG must disclose IPR as described in the W3C Process regarding IPR and W3C's IPR fact sheet. Invited experts are required to disclose IPR claims in the same manner as individuals from W3C Member organizations.

Daniel Dardailler <>, W3C $Date: 2000/09/11

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