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

Text Customization for Readability
Online Symposium 19 November 2012

Page Contents


This symposium brought together researchers, practitioners, and users with disabilities to explore the needs of people with low vision, dyslexia, and other conditions and situations that impact reading. It promoted new research, ongoing research, and analysis of past research related to text customization for readability. The goal is to encourage user agent developers, standards developers, policy makers, web designers, and others to provide specific functionality in mainstream web products by helping them better understand and implement text customization.


Text Transcript of the Symposium

Text transcript of the online symposium on 19 November 2012.

Contributed Extended Abstracts

Research Papers:

Position Papers:

Tool Papers:

Additional comments, questions, and contributions are in the RDWG comments e-mail archive from November 2012.


Many people need to be able to customize text in order to read effectively. Aspects of text formatting that users need to customize include: text size, text color and background color, font face, leading/line spacing, linearization/reflow, kerning, letter spacing, word spacing, line length, text style, justification, and more — including changes to all text and changes at the element level (e.g., headings different from body text).

However, there are few resources that provide clear guidance on text customization. Additionally, most of this customization has not been well integrated in mainstream user agents (web browsers, etc.), nor is it sufficiently included in some accessibility standards and support material (such as the Section 508 standards).

One reason for lack of sufficient text customization functionality may be a lack of awareness of and research on users' needs. This symposium aims to address that gap.

User Group

This symposium focuses on a specific group of people with print disabilities: those who can see and can read, but have difficulty reading text in common designs and thus need to specify different text characteristics in order to read effectively. It includes:

The primary focus is on people who use mainstream technologies and do not regularly use assistive technologies (AT), such as screen magnification. Some people do not use AT because the functionality does not meet their needs, poor usability, complexity, cost, availability, or other factors. For example, some people do not use screen magnification because while they need to increase text size to read, they do not want to increase images or other screen elements; and some need text to wrap to avoid horizontal scrolling — functionality that most screen magnification software does not provide. Research with AT users can inform how to meet the needs of this user group.


The objectives of this symposium are to:


The Text Customization for Readability symposium is organized by the W3C WAI Research and Development Working Group (RDWG). For information about RDWG, see the RDWG FAQ. If you have additional questions, contact Shadi Abou-Zahra (W3C Staff Contact).

Symposium Chairs

Scientific Committee