DE 4105 - WAI
WEB ACCESSIBILITY INITIATIVE
Authors: Daniel Dardailler, Judy Brewer
TELEMATICS APPLICATIONS PROGRAMME (DISABLED & ELDERLY SECTOR)
Date: August 99 -- Version number: 1.0
This file: http://www.w3.org/WAI/DE4105/FinalReport (readers are encouraged to access this document online, since many supporting documents mentioned here are only available as hyperlink)
Table of contents
Part I: Executive Summary
Part II: Final Report
Setting the Scene
Results and Achievements
Conclusions and future plans
The World Wide Web has become a vital resource for information and
interaction. Close to 20% of the population experiences some form of
disability; many of these conditions can present barriers to accessing
information technology. It is essential to ensure the accessibility of the
Web in order to provide access to educational, employment, commerce and
The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is hosted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C - http:/www.w3.org), an international vendor-neutral consortium which develops technologies to promote the interoperability and evolution of the Web. W3C provides a setting where WAI can bring together industry, disability organizations, accessibility researchers and government to explore accessibility requirements and develop accessibility solutions. For the past 18 months, WAI-DE has provided an opportunity to promote coordination with European organizations focusing on Web accessibility, and to develop materials and activities to support outreach to European organizations.
The WAI DE 4105 four work-packages (education, tools, standards, user forum, plus one for project management) have all delivered as expected: more than 25 presentation were made in European public conferences; Outreach materials such as Quick Tips cards, leaflets, video, demonstration sites, and translations in several European languages were made; Tools were specified and written; Standard studies made and a very active User Forum launched and actively maintained.
We consider the project to a success wrt outreach and tools development goals, however there's still more work to be done. Some of this work involves increasing awareness of the needs for accessibility for users of Web technologies, some involves the development of advanced tools. We are therefore proposing to continue this WAI European project in the fifth framework (IST) and focus the advanced education and tools aspects of Web accessibility in Europe.
WAI - Web Accessibility Initiative
Web Accessibility for People with Disabilities
01.01.98 - 31.06.99
Overall cost: 672000 ECU
European Commission contribution: 672000 ECU
Project Proposal: http://www.w3.org/WAI/DE4105/pp
Web, Web Accessibility, Education and Outreach, Assistive Technology and Tools.
Key Project Participants:
Tel: +33 4 92 38 79 83
Fax: +33 4 92 38 78 22
Project URL: http://www.w3.org/WAI/DE4105
Millions of people use the Web daily for services related to their professional and personal interests. The Web provides information on every topic; it provides a vehicle for civic participation, commercial transactions, and education. It gives people access to world news, employment opportunities, and each other. Yet for many people with disabilities, it is currently difficult or impossible to access the Web.
The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is hosted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international vendor-neutral consortium which develops technologies to promote the interoperability and evolution of the Web. The W3C coordinates the development of core Web protocols and data formats: HTML, XML, CSS, SMIL, etc. W3C provides a setting where WAI can bring together industry, disability organizations, accessibility researchers and government representatives to explore accessibility requirements and develop accessibility solutions.
The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) focuses on making the Web accessible to existing and potential Web users who have disabilities. W3C's credibility further assists in ensuring the successful promotion of WAI guidelines, tools, and educational materials to a variety of audiences, including browser and authoring tool manufacturers and site developers.
For the past 18 months, WAI-DE has provided an opportunity to promote coordination with European organizations focusing on Web accessibility, and to develop materials and activities to support outreach to European organizations.
As the Web rapidly displaces existing media, there is an increasing social expectation for its accessibility, and also a growing trend to require accessibility. This, combined with the realization of the benefits that a Design for All approach can bring to the Web at large (for instance, to mobile phone users with limited display screens), led the W3C to take on a leadership role and launch the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) program in 1997.
The accessibility of the Web is worsening, due to increasing use of multimedia and advanced Web technologies, while awareness of the need for Web accessibility is only gradually increasing. Web accessibility barriers exist for many kinds of disabilities:
Over the past two years, WAI has developed guidelines and technical reference documents which have achieved international recognition. Awareness of WAI guidelines is spreading in both the public and private sectors. Emerging policy requirements for Web accessibility in various countries, combined with education and outreach efforts of WAI and collaborating organizations, should spur this awareness onward.
In addition to policy requirements for Web accessibility, many organizations have expressed interest in the carry-over benefits of accessibility for other users. Even those without disabilities benefit from many changes motivated by the needs of people with disabilities. When driving a car, for example, a driver may wish to browse the Web for information using a voice-based interface similar to that used by someone who is blind. This is sometimes referred to as "Design for All," or the curb-cut effect, where an accessibility-driven design such as a mini-ramp in a sidewalk curb allows easier passage for wheelchair users but is also favored by people pushing baby strollers, riding bikes, pulling luggage on wheels, etc. In particular, the mobile phone industry has expressed interest in the contributions of Web accessibility to greater usability for all.
WAI's workplan has capitalized on the unique host environment of the W3C to provide access to the earliest design stages of Web technologies. WAI has successfully used the formal W3C process for review and approval of specifications to ensure consensus-based accessibility guidelines; and both WAI and WAI-DE continue to benefit from the W3C setting in developing high-quality support and reference materials to assist in promoting these guidelines.
WAI's approach to improving accessibility of the Web is based on the realization that many things have to be done to reach the goal of Web accessibility, and that while a limited European action like this can only address some aspects of the problem, it can greatly benefit from association with a broader initiative.
W3C has an activity in the area of Web Accessibility, called WAI. We use "WAI-DE 4105" in this report to indicate the Telematics project. WAI primarily focuses on technology groups working on the accessibility of the core Web formats such as HTML, XML, and CSS; and also on a set of guidelines accompanying the technologies, that address accessibility of Web content, and of browsers and authoring tools. WAI is organized to pursue accessibility of the Web through five areas of work:
From among these work areas, the WAI-DE 4105 project concentrated on education and outreach in Europe, specification and prototyping of tools, standardization, and the hosting of an umbrella User Forum Interest Group.
Approaches for each of these work-packages are detailed below.
In order to meet the requirement of "globality" of Web Accessibility, W3C combined its own membership funds plus those of various industries and governments with funding from the European Commission. In so doing, it helped ensure that W3C staff developing Web protocols will participate with this European action to ensure that the evolution of the Web removes, rather than reinforces, barriers to the Web.
It is important to note that this grant is hosted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international non-for-profit, vendor-neutral organization which fosters the evolution of the major Web protocol and format specifications, and whose goal is to lead the Web to its full potential (a long description of W3C is provided in the contact section). Being located at the heart of Web technology design allows WAI to address accessibility issues very early in the development cycle, and also to sensitize technologists world-wide to Design for All principles.
The WAI-DE 4105 Telematics proposal complements W3C WAI technical work by addressing content providers -- the people that create and distribute the information -- and end-users, through its user forum and tool workpackage. WAI-DE 4105 focuses on the European Web content providers and market. This approach enables different "stakeholders" in accessibility to work together at the design table. Over a hundred organizations from around the world participate in some part of WAI work, including: industry, disability organizations, access research centers, and governments. An increasing number of these organizations are European, due to WAI-DE 4105's activity.
As global as the Internet and the Web are, there is still a clear need for "local" actions when content providers are the target. A similar fund-raising activity for education and dissemination is being pursued by W3C for the Americas and the Pacific rim. We think all these actions are required for the Web as a whole to become more accessible.
It is important that the integration between W3C WAI and WAI-DE 4105 has been tight in order to maximise the leveraging of W3C actions in the DE project. WAI has therefore extended and improved the overall W3C WAI deliverables and charters, and cross-linked them with the WAI-DE deliverables.
W3C has a very formal framework for organizing its activities, under a structure of Working and Interest Groups which must first have defined charters, that first must define their charters. This is know as the W3C Process. Most WAI DE work-packages have been brought under this structure.
To ensure that this integration is well managed, the W3C WAI International Program Office itself has a Steering Committee, composed of members chosen by the U.S. National Science Foundation; the European Commission (specified by the DE Program Director); disability organizations; and private sponsors most of which are W3C Members.
This approach has led us to a very synergistic project, involving cooperation from disability organizations, researchers and engineers world-wide, not just limited to Europe.
In order to reach improve Web accessibility, it is important to target a variety of audiences. Content providers are one of WAI's primary targets since they determine much of the content on Web sites.
However, content providers are also influenced by other players: authoring tool vendors, Web site designers, Web-design educators, the press, and the user base. In order to reach all these communities, WAI must direct its efforts through a variety of activities -- presentations in major Web industry conferences; direct contact and awareness action with major European Web site providers; addition of accessibility "modules" in Web design curricula; direct contact with major authoring tool providers; submission of articles to the press, etc.
Another educational aspect also needs to be explored: the education of the disability community itself regarding their rights with respect to accessing information like everyone else. This is particularly true and important in the context of the Intranet, where some countries are already subject to existing legislation regarding access (see the US Americans with Disabilities Act or the UK Disability Discrimination Act). WAI has compiled a reference list of polices related to Web accessibility, which has become a key resource for the disability community.
While education and outreach are crucial aspects of WAI's work overall, these are not something that has traditionally fallen within W3C's role. Clearly, part of the raising of awareness should take place as part of the training that is packaged with any Web authoring tool. But part of this work also goes beyond individual tools, and is part of the traditional role of government: helping sensitize key players, including content providers, to the needs of an important minority population.
To complement work on improving Web technologies and producing guidelines, WAI has been developing tools to evaluate Web Content accessibility and repair inaccessible pages, and coordinating with organizations that develop such tools.
WAI-DE decided to depart from its original tools goal to develop a PICS accessibility implementation, and decided to expand the scope of this workpackage beyond the study and prototyping of PICS in the context of accessibility but to work on the more general problem of implementing tools that provide evaluation, transformation and repair of Web sites. One reason was that PICS was becoming a dated technology without convincing uptake by industry; another was the pressing need for other types of tools.
Since a lot of people and organizations are working on such tools within and outside W3C, and in order to converge on the measurement criteria for Web accessibility, we first needed to put some effort into coordination in the area of accessibility validation and tool prototypes. There is also a need to develop novel tools that end-users have expressed a need for.
WAI-DE's approach here has been to create and closely integrate with a new W3C WAI activity focused on tools and supplement it with specific resources as needed.
This was organized around a W3C working group called WAI-ER (for Evaluation and Repair), with a charter to examine:
We found our early work on PICS Rating System to be usable in this context (see result section) but we have now allocated more time in the framework of this ER group on collecting and analyzing input from users who benefit from these tools, including users with disabilities, Web authors and administrators, content owners, and tool vendors.
In order to determine precisely what could be the scope of any future standardisation activities regarding accessibility of Web-based interactive applications and services, an investigation has been undertaken by our partner FORTH covering the broad international state of the art.
This activity aimed at: (a) identifyng and assessing the international state of the art with regards to current, on-going and anticipated future standardisation activities related to Web accessibility; (b) identifying the requirements for Web accessibility and develop recommendations for meeting these requirements; and, (c) disseminating the results to the relevant national, European and International standardisation bodies. A four-phase approach has been adopted by the project towards achieving the above objectives, comprising:
The data collection and data analysis phases provided valuable insight into what is currently missing from on-going activities related to accessibility guidelines, recommendations and standardisation work, as well as into existing and future results can be propagated towards the relevant communities. Moreover, the analysis of the collected data enabled the derivation of several conclusions regarding the present coverage of the work on guidelines and recommendations, the current standardisation activities in the area of Web accessibility, and the existing policies and laws at national and European levels.
This task also addressed identification of unified interaction requirements in Web-based applications and services, facilitation of accessible and high quality interfaces for user with different requirements, and abilities and preferences, including disabled and elderly, following the concept of design for all.
It should be clarified that the standardization workpackage study is not at the same level as existing W3C WAI guidelines on Web accessibility. The latter are of immense practical value, as they offer Web developers immediate and concrete guidance as to how to render the Web content they produce accessible by people with different types of special requirements. The work in WP04 introduces a somewhat different perspective to the accessibility of Web technologies, with the aim to: (a) take a further step towards addressing the fullest possible range of user requirements, across the broad range of existing and forthcoming / future technologies; and (b) to overcome the difficulty that current accessibility guidelines and recommendations face in reaching standardisation bodies.
The WAI DE 4105 four work-packages (education, tools, standards, user forum, plus one for Project Management) have all delivered as expected: more than 25 presentation were made in European public conferences; Outreach materials such as Quick Tips cards, leaflets, video, demonstration sites, and translations in several European languages were made; Tools were specified and written; Standard studies made and a very active User Forum launched and actively maintained.
The goal of this dissemination/awareness workpackage was to promote the realization of accessible Web content throughout Europe.
It does so by developing strategies and materials to increase awareness in the Web community of the need for Web accessibility, and to educate the Web community regarding solutions to Web accessibility. The end-result shown here is primarily a list of public presentations where WAI specific materials are distributed or shown.
Because of the initial ramping up process to create a formal W3C working groups on Education, this workpackage did not really start its activity until the end of March 1998, so as a result, the beginning and end dates (same duration) were shifted three months ahead (with approval from the Commission office).
During this period, a number of events/talks/presentations promoting WAI were made in Europe by WAI-DE paid staff (this constitutes Deliverable D2.1 of the project proposal):
In addition, various European press and radio interviews and press releases were made during the period and we also submitted and included of a complete chapter (20 pages) on WAI in the "User Interfaces for All" book to be published in 1999 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Due to its participation in the project, EBU's 44 member organisations have been widely informed about WAI and the Guidelines. In particular, a simplified version of the WAI FAQ page was reproduced in issue No 23 of the EBU Newsletter. Some organisations which are in the process of starting their own sites have come back to us for more detailed information.
As some the presentation locations show, WAI-DE has been leveraging the new W3C Office presence (Germany, UK, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, etc) to do outreach in Europe about Web accessibility. These offices are W3C points of contact in various countries were the impact of W3C industry outreach coming from MIT, INRIA or Keio is less important.
The first three items constitute deliverable D2.2 of the project proposal (Accessibility modules and materials).
RNIB WAI Film: A 16 minute video entitled "Websites that Work" on how people with disabilities access the Web was developed by our RNIB partner and launched at the "Global Cafe" in London in front of about 150 persons. The screening was aimed at Commissioners of Websites (e.g., from banking associations). This launch received good media interest and from disability organizations. An awards ceremony was conducted at the same time.
The draft script of the film was provided in the December 1998 WAI-DE report and excerpts of the film will be shown at the final review in September 1999 in Brussels.
We have already shown this movie in several settings and are planning continue in other parts of Europe. Several thousands copies of the video are planned to be produced and we are also looking at converting it into two Web formats: SMIL and Quicktime. We're currently planning a number of other promotional activities around the film.
See also the section below on the ERCIM CDRom.
ERCIM CD: At the occasion of the 10th anniversary of ERCIM in 1999 (European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics), the ERCIM asked each member organizations (all 14 Computer Science National Labs in Europe) to participate in a CDRom highlighting two important activities per institute.
For INRIA (host of W3C in Europe), WAI was chosen and a multimedia presentation was designed and incorporated into the anniversary CD. This presentation incorporates short clips of the WAI Film within a nice page setup suited for the CD layout. An additional filming session occurred to complete the series of clips presenting WAI.
The CDRom will be briefly demonstrated at final review time. It is available online at http://www.w3.org/WAI/DE4105/CDErcim/19_wai/index.htm, but please note that it may not suitable for online use given the size of the video clips to download.
Demonstration site: In order to demonstrate the effect of accessible design on Web sites, an online demonstration was designed and implemented by WAI-DE participants.
The demo features a common frame-based Web site layout. This was initially a real Web site fetched off the Web in its inaccessible state, but text was changed to respect privacy. A simulation of browsing using an assistive technology browser (text-only) such as Lynx is then performed and then the demo goes in a tutorial mode on how to repair the site. The same site is then presented in its accessible form with and without Lynx.
This example is of great value as a simple tutorial and our past presentations using it have shown that the audience is very receptive of the problems of accessibility one they've observed the issues themselves.
The current version of this demo is online at:
The next three items constitutes the deliverable D2.3 of the project proposal (education guideline material).
BrailletNet leaflet: the WAI-DE French partner produced a leaflet on Web accessibility. This falls between guidelines (long) and Quick Tips (very short) in detail and complexity.
A French, English and Spanish version are available on hard copy paper (glossy) ready to be distributed. The launch of this promotional material received national press attention in France.
Although this first version focused on visual impairment, a second version putting the emphasis on cross-disability is already under development. This is an important step forward for an organization such as BrailleNet to include not only just blindness issues, and this commitment is a direct result of coordination with WAI.
Samples of the leaflet will be attached to the final report hard-copies.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) translations: In May 1999, the W3C released Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG) which is foundation document for Web Accessibility. The normative document is in English only, however several translations in European languages have been initiated by the WAI-DE project.
A mailing list set up at W3C is used to manage the translation work and the review of translated work. As of July 1999, we have the following translations completed: French version, German Translation, Norwegian translation, Swedish translation.
Additional translations in Danish, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish are under development and close to being finished.
See Appendix G for a copy of the WCAG checklist.
Alternative browsers: this is a collection of pointers to information, and where possible, to demonstration versions of alternative browsing methods, different from traditional mouse-and-screen-based browsers. We include the latest version of this resource at time report was sent as Appendix F.
Quick Tips business cards translation: the W3C WAI EO activity has produced a 2-side business card summarizing the WAI Web Content Guidelines. These are meant to be distributed at conferences and events world-wide. This work was only partially funded by WAI-DE: the design of the card was done mostly my WAI-DE paid participants but the mass production (75000 copies) was paid for by other WAI funding (in the US).
The primary version is in English so we also started a translation process into several European languages. The French version is already available.
Copies of the real card are provided with the final report on paper.
Unlike the above list, which can be completely counted as part of scheduled WAI-DE deliverables, the following resources were not primarily WAI-DE funded but some percentage of Commission funds was spent to develop each of them. This was through participation in W3C's WAI EO working group by paid WAI-DE participants.
Events calendar: we maintain a global events page listing world-wide outreach events, used by participants in the project to coordinate their presence in these events, including events in Europe.
Policy references resource: this is a Policy References resource
consisting of a review
of current legislation applicable in the field of online and
telecommunication accessibility international, which our European
partners have actively participated in developing.
This helped us realized that Europe is lagging behind in terms of
disability policy. As a result of coordination meetings, actions
have been taken notably in Italy, Denmark, France, and Portugal.
For instance, in the case of Portugal, a recent major achievement
was for the Portuguese Parliament to approve the Petition for the
Accessibility of the Portuguese Internet as recommendation to the
Government. This happened 30th of June 1999 and the Web Accessibility
Initiate was mentioned in this parliament report.
Other deliverables, such as the WAI slide set for seminars or the WAI logos for compliance with the guidelines, were also produced with help from personnel paid by WAI-DE, acting as participants in the W3C WAI working groups.
The original Project Proposal defined 4 deliverables in this workpackage:
As explained in the approach section and in interim reports, we departed from this original plan after realizing that developing a PICS rating system and running a PICS label bureau server was not very useful in itself and that we needed to work on broader aspects of evaluation criteria and repair tools as well.
Our set of deliverables now comprises:
This reporting tool forms the basis of all our current Review campaign actions. You see a presentation of in the User Forum section below.
It is online and active at http://www.w3.org/WAI/report
and is being continuously improved.
This is a new deliverable not counted at the beginning but introduced in the Annual report last year.
This tool can be downloaded at http://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/tablin.
This specification was attached to a previous report and is available at http://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/text-equiv
As indicated in the approach section, this workpackage, handled by our FORTH partner, followed a four-phase plan towards achieving its objectives, comprising data collection, data analysis, consolidation & recommendations, and dissemination phases.
The data collection and data analysis phases (presented in earlier report) provided a valuable insight towards what is currently missing from on-going activities related to accessibility guidelines, recommendations and standardisation work, as well as to how existing and future results can be propagated towards the relevant communities. Moreover, the analysis of the collected data enabled the derivation of several conclusions regarding the present coverage of the work on guidelines and recommendations, the current standardisation activities in the area of Web accessibility, and the existing policies and laws at national and European levels. The final deliverable 4.3 (Appendix D) presents a summary account of the activities carried out in the context of the last two phases of the project, namely the consolidation & recommendations and dissemination phases, and focuses on the development of standardisation recommendations that cover issues not addressed by the existing sets of accessibility guidelines and recommendations.
More specifically, this final deliverable reports on:
In particular, the development of standardisation recommendations in the present context aims to: (i) provide process-oriented guidance, through guidelines, on accessibility and universal design in HCI in general, and the development of Web-based applications and services in particular; and, (ii) translate the resulting guidelines into requirements that need to be met by the interaction platforms and the development tools, in order for them to provide the required support for building interactive applications and services accessible by the broadest possible end user population, including people with disabilities. The scope of the process-oriented design guidelines and the corresponding software technology requirements is deliberately broad in an attempt to provide a conceptual framework, independent of a particular technology / interaction platform, whereby universal accessibility is integrated in the development life-cycle of interactive applications and services. Specifically, the software technology requirements approach accessibility on the Web as an issue pertaining to interactive software with particular characteristics (e.g., presence of structural and presentational languages), so as to anticipate future developments and provide generic guidance that will be applicable beyond the current generation of relevant technologies.
Following the review of the current situation regarding standardisation work on Web accessibility and the consolidation of the collected data, alternative paths were examined and evaluated with the aim to define a specific dissemination strategy to be followed in the project. Three dissemination channels were identified as potential candidates for Web accessibility standards, namely: (a) standards on user-centred design; (b) standards on accessible design; and, (c) quality standards. The final action plan proposes two alternative dissemination strategies, taking into account the following criteria:
The first of the aforementioned strategies, which would involve the
addition of new recommendations to existing standards, was found to be
difficult or, in some cases, unfeasible. The second, recommended
strategy, involves the introduction of new parts in on-going
Please refer to the Appendix on deliverable 4.3 for details on this work.
This section constitutes deliverables 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 of the project proposal.
W3C's WAI maintains a User Forum as an online mailing list which meets face-to-face three or four times per year and that is also used by the WAI-DE project workpackages to gather user needs and requirements.
The forum is active under the alias
which is also the formal name of the W3C WAI overall Interest Group.
More than 330 persons are registered in this online forum, with an average traffic of more than 200 messages per month.
It is the best way to stay informed of overall WAI activities, and to participate in general WAI discussions.
A public archive of the most recent messages sent to this list is
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-ig/ In parallel to this generic end-user activity, a direct campaigning action involving European end-users was conducted by WAI-DE.
The next section reports on some of the campaign action findings.
Between October 1998 and February 1999, EBU (European Blind Users) and BrailleNet users conducted an experiment with direct reviewing and reporting of Web site accessibility problems, mostly in France.
A study on the accessibility of 111 Web sites has been conducted. The results of this study will be in a paper presented at the AAATE Conference which will take place in Düsseldorf, Germany, next November.
This study can be summarised as follow:
The Web sites belonged to several categories : newspapers, radio and television channels, national and international institutions, public services, culture, education, Web sites related to impairment, leisure and so on.
The accessibility of those 111 Web sites was evaluated according to the WAI recommendations. An evaluation with the help of the tool Bobby was not possible because each page should have been tested separately, and some accessibility problems cannot be evaluated automatically.
Two different browsers were used for the evaluation: Internet Explorer 3 with a Braille display and a screen reader, and BrailleSurf, the specific browser developed by INSERM, with a Braille display and a speech synthesiser.
In summary, over the 111 sites, about 20% are completely accessible, 20% rather accessible, 40% are not very accessible, and 20% are not accessible at all. The accessibility of the Web sites did not depend on the category they belong to. It only depends on the way the Web site designer has developed his site.
The evaluation of these sites shows that on the one hand, many Web site designers favour visual design of the site to attract as many visitors as possible. On the other hand, other designers favour access to information and the site accessibility, for instance most of the sites at international institutions.
The reviewer encountered two categories of problems: technical and conceptual problems. Some problems must be solved by screen readers themselves, according to the evolution of Web technology. Since, for example, image maps are more frequently used and some screen readers cannot handled them, developers of access software should better improve their software, instead of forbidding Web site designers to use image maps for their sites.
However, other problems must be solved by the Web site author when he or she follows the WAI recommendations. The technical problems can be more or less easily solved, since it is often necessary to add an HTML element or attribute, or to change a text formulation to make the site accessible. On the other hand, the conceptual problems are more difficult to solve, as it is easier to make a site accessible before its creation, than to make the site accessible once it already exists.
The analysis of those 111 Web sites shows a constant need to inform Web site designers so that the WAI recommendations can be better taken into account. As a result, letters have been sent to Webmasters of interesting Web sites to inform them about the accessibility problems encountered on their Web sites. Some design improvements were suggested with pointers to the WAI Web site so that then can check the accessibility of their site and understand what to change to improve this accessibility. The table in Appendix E shows the results of the letter actions.
Summarizing the results of this review campaign, it appears that many of the owners of these sites are not yet aware of how accessibility may benefit their commercial interest. Nevertheless we had some good results with some of them, which led to a co-operation with Webmasters to improve the site accessibility.
The value of this kind of letter campaign lies not so much in the breadth of sites involved (only French sites) but in the analysis of the kind of responses received from Webmasters and in their willingness to communicate with us about the accessibility problems of their documents.
We consider the project to a success wrt outreach and tools development goals, however there's still more work to be done. Some of this work involves increasing awareness of the needs for accessibility for users of Web technologies. In addition, new Web technologies are still coming out on the market at a rapid pace that potentially creates new challenges for people with disabilities. We are therefore proposing to continue this WAI European project in the fifth framework (IST) and focus the advanced education and tools aspects of Web accessibility in Europe.
In particular, we believe a systematic review process needs to be organized under the auspices of WAI, involving country-specific evaluation teams, with international coordination, and the creation of a showcase gallery of accessible sites.
The needs for additional work on advanced tools comes from the recognition that some of the Web today is not yet accessible so we need to account for practical measures to provide access to those pages that cannot or will not improve.
Finally, we think that a close coordination between the Web technology developers and providers (the W3C and its membership), and the promotion and tool development activities outline in our proposal for future work, is required in order to achieve these objectives and help meet the needs of people with disabilities in Europe toward a user-friendly information society for all.
Project Consortium:WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) DE 4105
Contact address for the Project:
2004 Route des Lucioles
06 902 Sophia Antipolis
Tel: +33 4 92 38 79 83
Fax: +33 4 92 38 78 22
In addition to INRIA/W3C as the main contractor, ICS/FORTH is an associated contractor (responsible for the Standardization workpackage), and there are 4 sub-contractors: INSERM/BrailleNet, EBU and RNIB (for W3C/INRIA) and CNR (for FORTH). All the partners are non-for-profit organizations.
The project started in January 1998, ran for 18 months and had 5 Work Packages:
The Overall cost of the project was 672000 ECU and the European Commission contribution was 100% of these costs (support/accompanying action). The original project proposal is available online at the URL http://www.w3.org/WAI/DE4105/pp.
The following sections provide a description of the partners and contractors in the project.
The W3C was founded in October 1994 to lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability.
It's an international industry consortium, jointly hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Laboratory for Computer Science [MIT/LCS] in the United States; the Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique [INRIA] in Europe; and the Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus in Japan.
Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users; reference code implementations to embody and promote standards; and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology.
The Consortium is led by Tim Berners-Lee, Director and creator of the World Wide Web, and Jean-François Abramatic, Chairman. W3C is funded by Member organizations (around 280 in August 1998), and is vendor neutral, working with the global community to produce specifications and reference software that is made freely available throughout the world.
W3C produces Recommendations, documents often called "W3C standards", that define and evolve the core languages and protocols of the Web: HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), CSS (Cascading Style Sheet), etc.
W3C's main site is at http://www.w3.org
BrailleNet is a French consortium whose mission is to promote the Internet for social, professional, and school integration of visually impaired people. Its objectives are to improve Internet access for visually impaired people, to develop pilot Web site containing specific services, to explore tele-working and education thru Internet and disseminate result of work to end-users.
The BrailleNet consortium regroups INSERM (French National Institute on Medical Research), EUROBRAILLE (first maker of Braille terminals), AFEI (specialized in the formation of visually impaired people), CNEFEI (specialized in the formation of teachers), ANPEA (National Association of Parents of Visually Impaired Children), FAF (Federation of Blind and Visually Impaired in France).
BrailleNet Web site is http://www.ccr.jussieu.fr/braillenet
EBU is a non-governmental and non-profit making European organisation, founded in 1984. It is the principal organisation representing the interests of blind and partially sighted people in Europe with membership made up or organisations of and for visually impaired (VI) people in 43 European countries. EBU has formal consultative status as the co-ordinating NGO for the visual impairment sector on the European Disability Forum in Brussels.
EBU Web site is at: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/EBU_UEA
RNIB Web site is http://www.rnib.org.uk
Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH, Greece), is a centre for research and development monitored by the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Technology (General Secretariat of Research and Technology) of the Greek Government. The Institute of Computer Science, one of the seven institutes of FORTH, conducts applied research, develops applications and products, and provides services. Current R&D activities focus on information systems, software engineering, parallel architectures and distributed systems, computer vision and robotics, digital communications, network management, machine learning, decision support systems, formal methods in concurrent systems, computer architectures and VLSI design, computer aided design, medical information systems, human-computer interaction, and rehabilitation tele-informatics. ICS-FORTH has a long research and development tradition in the design and development of user interfaces that are accessible and usable by a wide range of people, including disabled and elderly people. It has recently proposed the concept, and provided the technical framework for the development of unified user interfaces, that are adaptable to the abilities, requirements and preferences of the end user groups.
ICS/FORTH Web site is at http://www.ics.forth.gr
The National Research Council (CNR, Italy) is a government research organisation (staff of about 7000), which is involved in activities addressing most disciplinary sectors (physics, chemistry, medicine, agriculture, etc), in cooperation with universities and industry (one of its tasks being the transfer of innovations to production and services).
CNR Web site is at http://www.cnr.it
The Telematics DE head office has empowered the W3C as the single entity who distributes the results from the project, provided that no commercial use is made.
W3C's WAI therefore makes these documents available consistent with W3C copyright and documents use policy, which ensure that all the deliverables (Education material, Guidelines, Tools, etc) are for general Public access, delivered via the W3C WAI site.
The text of the agreement, signed by W3C, FORTH and TAP DE in February 1998, is:
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) through INRIA, as prime contractor for project DE4205-WAI, requests the permission of the Disabled & Elderly Sector of the TELEMATICS Applications Programme DGXIII to become the sole entity authorised to publicly distribute the results of the project. We certify that no commercial exploitation is intended and the results will be available free of charge on the W3C's WWW page. This request is made also on behalf of FORTH, partner in the DE4205-WAI project.
WAI-DE had a Project Steering Committee that consisted of the two main contractor managers, together with least one representative of each associated contractor and a Quality Panel representative. It was responsible for the overall strategy. It also had specific responsibility for ensuring that recommendations of the Quality Panel are adhered to by the Workpackage managers doing the technical and awareness developments and dissemination.
Besides face-to-face meetings, WAI-DE Project Steering Committee meets electronically under the alias: email@example.com
The following people were members of this committee:
This electronic mailing list and a Web site, hosted at W3C, are used as the day-to-day management vehicle.
W3C acts as the overall project management contact and is responsible to communicating the reports and deliverables to the Commission.
Reports and deliverables were made available to the Commission using electronic mail and Web downloading site.
The Steering Committee or a subset of it (just the W3C sub-contractors for instance) also met using phone conference facilities provided by INRIA W3C office.
This Report tool is a step-by-step form filling session where end-users reviewing Web sites are guided for their reporting of accessibility issues. It is available online at http://www.w3.org/WAI/report and a copy is provided here for illustration (not the active version).
The first page asks the person to enter the address of a Web site
or page to be reviewed:
Welcome to the WAI Accessibility Report Tool. The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has set up this step by step form to track and provide solutions for commonly encountered accessibility problems, such as pages that don't work when images, scripts, or style sheets are unusable, turned off, or not supported.
By taking the time to review pages for accessibility and filling out this form, you will help authors correct accessibility problems in their pages - your messages are sent directly to authors. At the same time you will help WAI understand patterns of inaccessible pages, useful for additions to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
The second step checks for validity and duplicate report for that
page and then the main page is presented as a third step:
The person is then asked for confirmation of the text of the
message that is going to be sent to the presumed author of the page:
The WAI Report Tool has generated the following message based on your input. Please review and correct if necessary (by using your browser's back button to return to previous steps). When you're satisfied, send it by using the "Send Message" button at the bottom of the page.
If you want to make comments on this report tool, please send a
message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From: email@example.com Hello, This message comes to you from the World Wide Web
Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative (W3C WAI) report tool at
URL: http://www.site.com Your Web site has been found to have to one or more
accessibility problems. This is not an automatic evaluation.
This message is the result of an individual's review of your
page or site (refer to the cc: field). This person experienced
difficulty accessing your page either due to a disability
(visual, auditory, physical, or cognitive) or due to device
limitations (poor connection bandwidth, no support for
graphics or support turned off, a voice interface such as
a webphone, etc.). Please consider their comments below.
with: Netscape Navigator 4.5
The reviewer found the following accessibility problems with your page or site. Each item is followed by a link to relevant information in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0.
Additional subjective comments from the reporter: Your name, the URL of your page, and the URLs of other
pages reviewed using this tool have been entered in a W3C WAI database
that we maintain (currently implemented as an archived mailing list
visible at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/wai-report-db).
Please take the time to review this report and take action on the problems
reported. If you have questions, please notify us at firstname.lastname@example.org, so that we can
re-evaluate your page.
These comments were made by someone who visited your Web
site who may not be affiliated with W3C or the WAI. For this reason,
WAI does not take responsibility for the accuracy of this report nor
the comments made in the report. For more information about the W3C
Web Accessibility Initiative please visit http://www.w3.org/WAI.
Regards, From email@example.com
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: WAI Report on http://www.site.com
Date: Wed Aug 1 06:46:27 1999
using the W3C WAI Accessibility Initiative Report Tool
This message comes to you from the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative (W3C WAI) report tool at http://www.w3.org/WAI/report.
Your Web site has been found to have to one or more accessibility problems. This is not an automatic evaluation. This message is the result of an individual's review of your page or site (refer to the cc: field). This person experienced difficulty accessing your page either due to a disability (visual, auditory, physical, or cognitive) or due to device limitations (poor connection bandwidth, no support for graphics or support turned off, a voice interface such as a webphone, etc.). Please consider their comments below.
with: Netscape Navigator 4.5
The reviewer found the following accessibility problems with your page or site. Each item is followed by a link to relevant information in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0.
Additional subjective comments from the reporter:
Your name, the URL of your page, and the URLs of other pages reviewed using this tool have been entered in a W3C WAI database that we maintain (currently implemented as an archived mailing list visible at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/wai-report-db).
Please take the time to review this report and take action on the problems reported. If you have questions, please notify us at firstname.lastname@example.org, so that we can re-evaluate your page.
Note. These comments were made by someone who visited your Web site who may not be affiliated with W3C or the WAI. For this reason, WAI does not take responsibility for the accuracy of this report nor the comments made in the report. For more information about the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative please visit http://www.w3.org/WAI.