Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0

W3C Working Draft 8 March 2000

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Jon Gunderson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Ian Jacobs, W3C


This document provides techniques for satisfying the checkpoints defined in "User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" [UAAG10]. These techniques cover the accessibility of user interfaces, content rendering, application programming interfaces (APIs), and languages such as the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and the Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL).

This document is part of a series of accessibility documents published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Status of this document

This section describes the status of this document at the time of its publication. Other documents may supersede this document. The latest status of this document series is maintained at the W3C.

This is a W3C Working Draft for review by W3C Members and other interested parties. It is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use W3C Working Drafts as reference material or to cite them as other than "work in progress". This is work in progress and does not imply endorsement by, or the consensus of, either W3C or participants in the WAI User Agent (UA) Working Group.

While User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 strives to be a stable document (as a W3C Recommendation), the current document is expected to evolve as technologies change and content developers discover more effective techniques for designing accessible Web sites and pages.

Please send comments about this document, including suggestions for additional techniques, to the public mailing list w3c-wai-ua@w3.org (public archives).

This document has been produced as part of the Web Accessibility Initiative. The goals of the User Agent Working Group are described in the charter. A list of the Working Group participants is available.

A list of current W3C Recommendations and other technical documents can be found at http://www.w3.org/TR.

Table of contents

1 Introduction

This document provides some suggestions for satisfying the requirements of the "User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" [UAAG10]. The techniques listed in this document are not required for conformance to the Guidelines. These techniques are not necessarily the only way of satisfying the checkpoint, nor are they necessarily a definitive set of requirements for satisfying a checkpoint.

1.1 How the techniques are organized

Section 2 of this document reproduces the guidelines and checkpoints of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [UAAG10]. Each checkpoint definition includes a link to the checkpoint definition in [UAAG10]. Each checkpoint definition is followed by a list of techniques, information about related resources, and references to the accessibility topics in section 3. These accessibility topics may apply to more than one checkpoint and so have been split off into stand-alone sections.

Note. Some of the techniques in this document are appropriate for assistive technologies.

1.2 Related resources

"Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" and the Guidelines [UAAG10] are part of a series of accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). The series also includes "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" [WCAG10] (and techniques [WCAG10-TECHS]) and "Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" [ATAG10] (and techniques [ATAG10-TECHS]).

1.3 Document conventions

The following editorial conventions are used throughout this document:

1.4 Priorities

Each checkpoint in this document is assigned a priority that indicates its importance for users with disabilities.

[Priority 1]
This checkpoint must be satisfied by user agents, otherwise one or more groups of users with disabilities will find it impossible to access the Web. Satisfying this checkpoint is a basic requirement for enabling some people to access the Web.
[Priority 2]
This checkpoint should be satisfied by user agents, otherwise one or more groups of users with disabilities will find it difficult to access the Web. Satisfying this checkpoint will remove significant barriers to Web access for some people.
[Priority 3]
This checkpoint may be satisfied by user agents to make it easier for one or more groups of users with disabilities to access information. Satisfying this checkpoint will improve access to the Web for some people.

2 User agent accessibility guidelines

This section lists each checkpoint of User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [UAAG10] along with some possible techniques for satisfying it. Each checkpoint also links to more general accessibility topics where appropriate.

Guideline 1. Support input and output device-independence.

Checkpoints for user interface accessibility:

1.1 Ensure that every functionality available through the user interface is also available through every input device API supported by the user agent. Excluded from this requirement are functionalities that are part of the input device API itself (e.g., text input for the keyboard API, pointer motion for the pointer API, etc.) [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 1.1)
Note. The device-independence required by this checkpoint applies to functionalities described by the other checkpoints in this document (e.g., installation, documentation, user agent user interface configuration, etc.). This checkpoint does not require user agents to use all operating system input device APIs, only to make the software accessible through those they do use.


Ensure that the user can do the following with all supported input devices:

Ensure that people with disabilities are involved in the design and testing of the software.

1.2 Use the standard input and output device APIs of the operating system. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 1.2)
Do not bypass the standard output APIs when rendering information (e.g., for reasons of speed, efficiency, etc.). For example, do not bypass standard APIs to manipulate the memory associated with rendered content, since assistive technologies monitor rendering through the APIs.


1.3 Ensure that the user can interact with all active elements in a device-independent manner. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 1.3)
For example, users who are blind or have physical disabilities must be able to activate text links, the links in a client-side image map, and form controls without a pointing device. Note. This checkpoint is an important special case of checkpoint 1.1.


1.4 Ensure that every functionality available through the user interface is also available through the standard keyboard API. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 1.4)
Note. This checkpoint is an important special case of checkpoint 1.1. The comment about low-level functionalities in checkpoint 1.1 applies to this checkpoint as well. Refer also to checkpoint 10.8.


1.5 Ensure every non-text message (e.g., prompt, alert, etc.) available through the user interface also has a text equivalent in the user interface. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 1.5)
Note. For example, if the user interface provides access to a functionality through a graphical button, ensure that a text equivalent for that button provides access to the same functionality from the user interface. If a sound is used to notify the user of an event, announce the event in text on the status bar as well. Refer also to checkpoint 5.7.


Guideline 2. Ensure user access to all content.

Checkpoints for content accessibility:

2.1 Ensure that the user has access to all content, including equivalent alternatives for content. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 2.1)
Refer to 5 for information about programmatic access to content.


2.2 For presentations that require user input within a specified time interval, allow the user to configure the time interval (e.g., to extend it or to cause the user agent to pause the presentation automatically and await user input before proceeding). [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 2.2)


2.3 When the author has not supplied a text equivalent for content as required by the markup language, make available other author-supplied information about the content (e.g., object type, file name, etc.). [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 2.3)


Refer to techniques for missing equivalent alternatives of content.

2.4 When a text equivalent for content is explicitly empty (i.e., an empty string), render nothing. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint 2.4)


Checkpoints for user interface accessibility:

2.5 If more than one equivalent alternative is available for content, allow the user to choose from among the alternatives. This includes the choice of viewing no alternatives. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 2.5)
For example, if a multimedia presentation has several captions (or subtitles) available, allow the user to choose from among them. Captions might differ in level of detail, address different reading levels, differ in natural language, etc.


The following image shows how users select a natural language preference in the Real Player. This setting, in conjunction with language markup in the presentation, determine what content is rendered.

How user selects preferred natural language for captions in Real Player

2.6 Allow the user to specify that text transcripts, collated text transcripts, captions, and auditory descriptions be rendered at the same time as the associated auditory and visual tracks. Respect author-supplied synchronization cues during rendering. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 2.6)


2.7 For author-identified but unsupported natural languages, allow the user to request notification of language changes in content. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint 2.7)


Guideline 3. Allow the user to turn off rendering or stop behavior that may reduce accessibility.

In addition to the techniques below, refer also to the section on user control of style.

Checkpoints for content accessibility:

3.1 Allow the user to turn on and off rendering of background images. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 3.1)


3.2 Allow the user to turn on and off rendering of background audio. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 3.2)


3.3 Allow the user to turn on and off rendering of video. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 3.3)


3.4 Allow the user to turn on and off rendering of audio. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 3.4)


3.5 Allow the user to turn on and off animated or blinking text. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 3.5)


3.6 Allow the user to turn on and off animations and blinking images. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 3.6)


3.7 Allow the user to turn on and off support for scripts and applets. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 3.7)
Note. This is particularly important for scripts that cause the screen to flicker, since people with photosensitive epilepsy can have seizures triggered by flickering or flashing, particularly in the 4 to 59 flashes per second (Hertz) range.


3.8 For automatic content changes specified by the author (e.g., redirection and content refresh), allow the user to slow the rate of change. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 3.8)


3.9 Allow the user to turn on and off rendering of images. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint 3.9)


Guideline 4. Ensure user control of styles.

In addition to the techniques below, refer also to the section on user control of style.

Checkpoints for fonts and colors:

4.1 Allow the user to configure the size of text. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 4.1)
For example, allow the user to specify a font family and style directly through the user agent user interface or in a user style sheet. Or, allow the user to zoom or magnify content.


4.2 Allow the user to configure font family. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 4.2)


4.3 Allow the user to configure foreground color. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 4.3)


4.4 Allow the user to configure background color. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 4.4)


Checkpoints for multimedia and audio presentations:

4.5 Allow the user to slow the presentation rate of audio, video, and animations. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 4.5)


4.6 Allow the user to start, stop, pause, advance, and rewind audio, video, and animations. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 4.6)


4.7 Allow the user to configure the position of text transcripts, collated text transcripts, and captions on graphical displays. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 4.7)


4.8 Allow the user to configure the audio volume. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 4.8)


Checkpoints for synthesized speech:

Refer also to techniques for synthesized speech.

4.9 Allow the user to configure synthesized speech playback rate. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 4.9)


4.10 Allow the user to configure synthesized speech volume. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 4.10)


4.11 Allow the user to configure synthesized speech pitch, gender, and other articulation characteristics. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 4.11)


Checkpoints for user interface accessibility:

4.12 Allow the user to select from available author and user style sheets or to ignore them. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 4.12)
Note. By definition the browser's default style sheet is always present, but may be overridden by author or user styles.


4.13 Allow the user to configure how the selection is highlighted (e.g., foreground and background color). [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 4.13)


4.14 Allow the user to configure how the content focus is highlighted (e.g., foreground and background color). [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 4.14)


4.15 Allow the user to configure how the focus changes. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 4.15)
For instance, allow the user to require that user interface focus not move automatically to a newly opened viewport.


4.16 Allow the user to configure viewports, prompts, and windows opened on user agent initiation. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 4.16)
For instance, allow the user to turn off viewport creation. Refer also to checkpoint 5.7.


Guideline 5. Observe system conventions and standard interfaces.

Checkpoints for content accessibility:

5.1 Provide programmatic read access to HTML and XML content by conforming to the W3C Document Object Model (DOM) Level 2 Core and HTML modules and exporting the interfaces they define. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 5.1)
Note. These modules are defined in DOM Level 2 [DOM2], chapters 1 and 2. Please refer to that specification for information about which versions of HTML and XML are supported and for the definition of a "read-only DOM. For content other than HTML and XML, refer to checkpoint 5.3. This checkpoint is an important special case of checkpoint 2.1.


5.2 If the user can modify HTML and XML content through the user interface, provide the same functionality programmatically by conforming to the W3C Document Object Model (DOM) Level 2 Core and HTML modules and exporting the interfaces they define. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 5.2)
For example, if the user interface allows users to complete HTML forms, this must also be possible through the DOM APIs. Note. These modules are defined in DOM Level 2 [DOM2], chapters 1 and 2. Please refer to DOM Level 2 [DOM2] for information about which versions of HTML and XML are supported. For content other than HTML and XML, refer to checkpoint 5.3. This checkpoint is an important special case of checkpoint 2.1.


5.3 For markup languages other than HTML and XML, provide programmatic access to content using standard APIs (e.g., platform-independent APIs and standard APIs for the operating system). [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 5.3)
Note. This checkpoint addresses content not covered by checkpoints checkpoint 5.1 and checkpoint 5.2. This checkpoint is an important special case of checkpoint 2.1.


5.4 Provide programmatic access to Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) by conforming to the W3C Document Object Model (DOM) Level 2 CSS module and exporting the interfaces it defines. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint 5.4)
Note. This module is defined in DOM Level 2 [DOM2], chapter 5. Please refer to that specification for information about which versions of CSS are supported. This checkpoint is an important special case of checkpoint 2.1.


Checkpoints for user interface accessibility:

5.5 Provide programmatic read and write access to user agent user interface controls using standard APIs (e.g., platform-independent APIs such as the W3C DOM, standard APIs for the operating system, and conventions for programming languages, plug-ins, virtual machine environments, etc.) [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 5.5)
For example, ensure that assistive technologies have access to information about the user agent's current input configuration so that they can trigger functionalities through keyboard events, mouse events, etc.


5.6 Implement selection, content focus, and user interface focus mechanisms. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 5.6)
Refer also to checkpoint 7.1 and checkpoint 5.5. Note. This checkpoint is an important special case of checkpoint 5.5.


5.7 Provide programmatic notification of changes to content and user interface controls (including selection, content focus, and user interface focus). [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 5.7)


Refer also to checkpoint 5.5.
5.8 Ensure that programmatic exchanges proceed in a timely manner. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 5.8)
For example, the programmatic exchange of information required by other checkpoints in this document must be efficient enough to prevent information loss, a risk when changes to content or user interface occur more quickly than the communication of those changes. The techniques for this checkpoint explain how developers can reduce communication delays, e.g., to ensure that assistive technologies have timely access to the document object model and other information needed for accessibility.


5.9 Follow operating system conventions and accessibility settings. In particular, follow conventions for user interface design, default keyboard configuration, product installation, and documentation. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 5.9)
Refer also to checkpoint 10.2.


Guideline 6. Implement accessible specifications.

Checkpoints for content accessibility:

6.1 Implement the accessibility features of supported specifications (markup languages, style sheet languages, metadata languages, graphics formats, etc.). [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 6.1)


6.2 Conform to W3C Recommendations when they are appropriate for a task. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 6.2)
For instance, for markup, implement HTML 4.01 [HTML4] or XML 1.0 [XML]. For style sheets, implement CSS ([CSS1], [CSS2]). For mathematics, implement MathML [MATHML]. For synchronized multimedia, implement SMIL 1.0 [SMIL]. For access to the structure of HTML or XML documents, implement the DOM [DOM2]. Refer also to guideline 5.
Note. For reasons of backward compatibility, user agents should continue to support deprecated features of specifications. The current guidelines refer to some deprecated language features that do not necessarily promote accessibility but are widely deployed. Information about deprecated language features is generally part of the language's specification.


Guideline 7. Provide navigation mechanisms.

Checkpoints for user interface accessibility:

7.1 Allow the user to navigate viewports (including frames). [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 7.1)
Note. For example, when all frames of a frameset are displayed side-by-side, allow the user to navigate among them with the keyboard. Or, when frames are accessed or viewed one at a time (e.g., by a text browser or speech synthesizer), provide a list of links to other frames. Navigating into a viewport makes it the current viewport.


7.2 For user agents that offer a browsing history mechanism, when the user returns to a previous viewport, restore the point of regard in the viewport. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 7.2)
For example, when users navigate "back" and "forth" among viewports, they should find the viewport position where they last left it.


7.3 Allow the user to navigate all active elements. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 7.3)
Navigation may include non-active elements in addition to active elements. Note. This checkpoint is an important special case of checkpoint 7.6.


Sequential navigation techniques

The following view from Jaws for Windows [JFW] allows users to navigate to links in a document and activate them independently. Users may also configure the user agent to navigate visited links, unvisited links, or both. Users may also change the sequential navigation order, sorting links alphabetically or leaving them in the logical tabbing order.

Jaws for Windows Links List view

Direct navigation techniques

7.4 Allow the user to choose to navigate only active elements. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 7.4)


7.5 Allow the user to search for rendered text content, including rendered text equivalents. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 7.5)
Note. Use operating system conventions for marking the result of a search (e.g., selection or content focus).


7.6 Allow the user to navigate according to structure. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 7.6)
For example, allow the user to navigate familiar elements of a document: paragraphs, tables and table cells, headers, lists, etc. Note. Use operating system conventions to indicate navigation progress (e.g., selection or content focus).


7.7 Allow the user to configure structured navigation. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint 7.7)
For example, allow the user to navigate only paragraphs, or only headers and paragraphs, etc.


Guideline 8. Orient the user.

Checkpoints for content accessibility:

8.1 Make available to the user the author-specified purpose of each table and the relationships among the table cells and headers. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 8.1)
For example, provide information about table headers, how headers relate to cells, table summary information, cell position information, table dimensions, etc. Refer also to checkpoint 5.3. Note. This checkpoint is an important special case of checkpoint 2.1.


The following image shows how Internet Explorer [IE] provides cell header information through the context ("right-click") menu:

Internet Explorer context menu item to display table cell header information

8.2 Indicate to the user whether a link has been visited. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 8.2)
Note. This checkpoint is an important special case of checkpoint 8.4.


8.3 Indicate to the user whether a link has been marked up to indicate that following it will involve a fee. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 8.3)
Note. This checkpoint is an important special case of checkpoint 8.4. The W3C specification "Common Markup for micropayment per-fee-links" [MICROPAYMENT] describes how authors may mark up micropayment information in an interoperable manner.


8.4 To help the user decide whether to follow a link, make available link information supplied by the author and computed by the user agent. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint 8.4)
Information supplied by the author includes link content, link title, whether the link is internal, whether it involves a fee, and hints on the content type, size, or natural language of the linked resource. Information computed by the user agent includes whether the user has already visited the link. Note. User agents are not required to retrieve the resource designated by a link as part of computing information about the link.


The following image shows how Opera [OPERA] allows the user to configure link rendering, including the identification of visited links.

The Opera dialog box for configuring the rendering of links

Checkpoints for user interface accessibility:

8.5 Provide a mechanism for highlighting and identifying (through a standard interface where available) the current viewport, selection, and content focus. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 8.5)
Note. This includes highlighting and identifying frames. Note. This checkpoint is an important special case of checkpoint 1.1. Refer also to checkpoint 8.4.


The following image shows how Opera [OPERA] uses a solid line border to indicate content focus:

Example of a solid line border used to indicate the
content focus in Opera 3.60

The following image shows how the Accessible Web Browser [[AWB] uses the system highlight colors to indicate content focus:

Example of system highlight colors used to indicate the
content focus by the accessible browser project

8.6 Make available to the user an "outline" view of content, built from structural elements (e.g., frames, headers, lists, forms, tables, etc.). [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 8.6)
For example, for each frame in a frameset, provide a table of contents composed of headers where each entry in the table of contents links to the header in the document. Note. The outline view does not have to be navigable, but if it is, it may satisfy checkpoint 7.6.


The following image shows the table of contents view provided by Amaya [AMAYA]. This view is synchronized with the "primary" view so that users may navigate in one view and the focus follows in the other. An entry in the table of contents with a target icon means that the header in the document has an associated anchor.

Amaya table of contents view

8.7 Provide a mechanism for highlighting and identifying active elements (through a standard interface where available). [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 8.7)
Note. User agents may satisfy this checkpoint by implementing the appropriate style sheet mechanisms, such as link highlighting.


8.8 Allow the user to configure the outline view. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint 8.8)
For example, allow the user to configure the level of detail of the outline. Refer also to checkpoint 8.6. Refer also to checkpoint 5.5.


8.9 Allow the user to configure what information about links to present. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint 8.9)
Note. Do not use color as the only distinguishing factor between visited and unvisited links as some users may not perceive colors and some devices may not render them. Refer also to checkpoint 8.4.


Guideline 9. Notify the user of content and viewport changes.

Checkpoints for user interface accessibility:

9.1 Ensure that when the selection or content focus changes, it is in a viewport after the change. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 9.1)
For example, users navigating links may navigate to a portion of the document outside the viewport, so the viewport should scroll to include the new location of the focus.


9.2 Prompt the user to confirm any form submission triggered indirectly, that is by any means other than the user activating an explicit form submit control. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 9.2)
For example, do not submit a form automatically when a menu option is selected, when all fields of a form have been filled out, or when a mouseover event occurs.


9.3 Allow the user to configure notification preferences for common types of content and viewport changes. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint 9.3)
For example, allow the user to choose to be notified (or not) that a script has been executed, that a new viewport has been opened, that a pulldown menu has been opened, that a new frame has received focus, etc.


9.4 When loading content (e.g., document, image, audio, video, etc.) indicate what portion of the content has loaded and whether loading has stalled. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint 9.4)


9.5 Indicate the relative position of the viewport in rendered content (e.g., the percentage of an audio or video clip that has been played, the percentage of a Web page that has been viewed, etc.). [Priority 3] (Checkpoint 9.5)
Note. The user agent may calculate the percentage according to content focus position, selection position, or viewport position, depending on how the user has been browsing.


Guideline 10. Allow configuration and customization.

Checkpoints for user interface accessibility:

10.1 Provide information to the user about current user preferences for input configurations (e.g., keyboard or voice bindings). [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 10.1)


10.2 Avoid default input configurations that interfere with operating system accessibility conventions. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 10.2)
In particular, default configurations should not interfere with the mobility access keyboard modifiers reserved for the operating system. Refer also to guideline 5.


10.3 Provide information to the user about current author-specified input configurations (e.g., keyboard bindings specified in content such as by "accesskey" in HTML). [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 10.3)


10.4 Allow the user to change the input configuration. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 10.4)
For voice-activated browsers, allow the user to modify which voice commands activate functionalities. Similarly, allow the user to modify the graphical user agent user interface for quick access to commonly used functionalities (e.g., through buttons). Refer also to checkpoint 10.5 and checkpoint 10.9.


10.5 Allow the user to configure the user agent so that the user's preferred one-step operations may be activated with a single input command (keystroke, voice command, etc.). [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 10.5)
Note. User agents are not required to provide single command activation of all user agent functionalities at once, only some of them. This checkpoint is an important special case of checkpoint 10.4.


10.6 Follow operating system conventions to indicate the input configuration. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 10.6)
For example, on some operating systems, if a functionality is available from a menu, the letter of the key that will activate that functionality is underlined. Note. This checkpoint is an important special case of checkpoint 5.9.


10.7 For the configuration requirements of this document, allow the user to save user preferences a profile. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 10.7)
Note. This includes user preferences for styles, presentation rates, input configurations, navigation, views, and notification. Users must be able to select from among available profiles or no profile (i.e., the user agent default settings).


10.8 Ensure that frequently used functionalities are easily activated in the default input configuration. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint 10.8)
Make the most frequent operations easy to access and operable through a single command.


10.9 Allow the user to configure the arrangement of graphical user agent user interface controls. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint 10.9)
Note. This checkpoint is an important special case of checkpoint 10.4.


Guideline 11. Provide accessible product documentation and help.

Checkpoints for user interface accessibility:

11.1 Provide a version of the product documentation that conforms to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10]. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 11.1)
User agents may provide documentation in many formats, but at least one must conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10].


11.2 Document all user agent features that promote accessibility. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 11.2)
For example, review the documentation or help system to ensure that it includes information about the accessibility features discussed in this document.


11.3 Document the default input configuration (e.g., default keyboard bindings). [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 11.3)


The following table shows how one might document keyboard bindings. It show the default keyboard configuration for versions of Navigator [NAVIGATOR] running on the Macintosh, Unix, and Windows operating systems. If a function exists in the browser but does not have a shortcut, its corresponding cell is marked with an asterisk (*). If the function does not exist, it is left blank. Note. This table lists some, but not all, functionalities and keyboard shortcuts of Navigator. It is meant to illustrate, not serve as definitive documentation.

Some entries contain links to special notes. The number in parentheses following the link is the number of the relevant note.

Note. To make this table accessible, a linear version of Navigator Keyboard Shortcuts is available.

Navigator Keyboard Shortcuts
Function Macintosh (v 4.61) Unix (v 4.51) Windows (v 4.7)
Move within a document
Scroll to next page Page Down Page Down Page Down
Scroll to previous page Page Up Page Up Page Up
Scroll to top * * Control-Home
Scroll to bottom * * Control-End
Move between documents
Open a new document Command+L Alt+O Control+O
Stop loading a document Command+. Esc Esc
Refresh a document Command+R Alt+R Control+R
Load previous document Command+[
Command+Left Arrow
Alt+Left Arrow Alt+Left Arrow
Load next document Command+]
Command+Right Arrow
Alt+Right Arrow Alt+Right Arrow
Navigate elements within a document
Move focus to next frame * * *
Move focus to previous frame * * *
Move focus to next active element (1) Tab Tab Tab
Move focus to previous active element (1) Shift+Tab Shift+Tab Shift+Tab
Find word in page Command+F Alt+F Control+F
Act on HTML elements
Select a link * * Enter
Toggle a check box * * Shift or Enter
Activate radio button * * Shift
Move focus to next item in an option box * * Down Arrow or Right Arrow
Move focus to previous item in an option box * * Up Arrow or Left Arrow
Select item in an option box * * Enter
Press a button (2) Return Enter Enter
Navigate menus
Activate menu * * Alt+ the underlined letter in the menu title
Deactivate menu * Esc Esc
Move focus to next menu item * * (3) Down Arrow
Move focus to previous menu item * * (3) Up Arrow
Select menu item * underlined letter in the menu item Enter
Move focus to submenu * * (3) Right Arrow
Move focus to main menu * * (3) Left Arrow
Navigate bookmarks
View bookmarks menu * (4) * Alt+C+B
Move focus to next item in bookmarks menu Down Arrow (4) * Down Arrow
Move focus to previous item in bookmarks menu Up Arrow (4) * Up Arrow
Select item in bookmarks menu Return (4) * Enter
Add bookmark Command+D Alt+K Control+D
Edit bookmarks Command+B Alt+B Control+B
Delete current bookmark (5) Delete Alt+D Delete
Navigate history list
View history list Command+H Alt+H Control+H
Move focus to next item in history list * * Down Arrow
Move focus to previous item in history list * * Up Arrow
Move focus to first item in history list * * Left Arrow
Select item in history list * * Enter (6)
Close history list Command+W Alt+W Control+W
Define view
Increase font size (7) Shift+Command+] Alt+] Control+]
Decrease font size (7) Shift+Command+[ Alt+[ Control+[
Change font color * * *
Change background color * * *
Turn off author-defined style sheets * * *
Turn on user-defined style sheets (8) ? ? ?
Apply next user-defined style sheet ? ? ?
Apply previous user-defined style sheet ? ? ?
Other functionalities
Access to documentation * * *


  1. In Windows, active elements of the user interface include links, text entry boxes, buttons, checkboxes, radio buttons, etc. In Unix and Macintosh, Tab cycles through text entry boxes only.
  2. In Windows, this works for any button, since any button can gain the user interface focus using keyboard commands. In Unix and Macintosh, this only applies to the "Submit" button following a text entry.
  3. In Unix, the menus cannot be opened with shortcut keys. However, once a menu is opened it stays opened until it is explicitly closed, which means that the menus can still be used with shortcut keys to some extent. Sometimes left and right arrows move between menus and up and down arrows move within menus, but this does not seem to work consistently, even within a single session.
  4. In Macintosh, you cannot explicitly view the bookmarks menu. However, if you choose "Edit Bookmarks", which does have a keyboard shortcut, you can then navigate through the bookmarks and open bookmarked documents in the current window.
  5. To delete a bookmark you must first choose "Edit Bookmarks" and then move the focus to the bookmark you want to delete.
  6. In Windows, when you open a link from the history menu using Enter, the document opens in a new window.
  7. All three systems have menu items (and corresponding shortcut keys) meant to allow the user to change the font size. However, the menu items are consistently inactive in both Macintosh and Unix. The user seems to be able to actually change the font sizes only in Windows.
  8. It is important to allow users to set their own Cascading Style Sheets. Although Navigator does currently allow the user to override the author's choice of foreground color, background color, font, and font size, it does not allow some of the advanced capabilities that make CSS so powerful. For example, a blind user may want to save a series of style sheets which show only headers, only links, etc., and then view the same page using some or all of these style sheets in order to orient himself to the contents and organization of the page before reading any of the actual content.

11.4 In a dedicated section of the documentation, describe all features of the user agent that promote accessibility. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 11.4)
Note. This is a more specific requirement than checkpoint 11.2.


11.5 Document changes between software releases. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 11.5)


3 Accessibility topics

This section presents general accessibility techniques that may apply to more than one checkpoint.

3.1 Access to content

User agents must ensure that users have access to content, either rendered through the user interface or made available to assistive technologies through an API. While providing serial access to a stream of content would satisfy this requirement, this would be analogous to offering recorded music on a cassette: other technologies exist (e.g., CD-ROMs) that allow direct access to music. It is just as important for user agents to allow users to access Web content efficiently, whether the content is being rendered as a two-dimensional graphical layout, an audio stream, or a line-by-line Braille stream). Providing efficient access to content involves:

These topics are addressed below.

3.1.1 Preserve and provide structure

When used properly, markup languages structure content in ways that allow user agents to communicate that structure across different renderings. A table describes relationships among cells and headers. Graphically, user agents generally render tables as a two-dimensional grid. However, serial renderings (e.g., speech and Braille) must also make those relationships apparent, otherwise users will not understand the purpose of the table and the relationships among its cells (refer to the section on table techniques). User agents must render content in ways that allow users to understand the underlying document structure, which may consist of headers, lists, tables, synchronized multimedia, link relationships, etc. Providing alternative renderings (e.g., an outline view) will also help users understand document structure.

Note. Even though the structure of a language like HTML is defined by a Document Type Definition (DTD), user agents may convey structure according to a "more intelligent" document model when that model is well-known. For instance, in the HTML DTD, header elements do not nest, but presenting the document as nested headers may be convey the document's structure more effectively than as a flat list of headers.

3.1.2 Allow access to selected content

The guidelines emphasize the importance of navigation as a way to provide efficient access to content. Navigation allows users to access content more quickly and when used in conjunction with selection and focus mechanisms, allows users to query content for metadata. For instance, blind users often navigate a document by skipping from link to link, deciding whether to follow each link based on metadata about the link. User agents can help them decided whether to follow a link by allowing them to query each focused link for the link text, title information, information about whether the link has been visited, whether the link involves a fee, etc. While much of this information may be rendered, the information must also be available to assistive technologies.

For example, the Amaya browser/editor [AMAYA] makes available all attributes and their values to the user through a context menu. The user selects an element (e.g., with the mouse) and opens an attribute menu that changes according to the selected element. The selection may be widened (moved to the nearest node one level up the document tree) by pressing the Escape key; this is a form of structured navigation based on the underlying document object model. Information about attributes is also available through Amaya's structured view, which renders the document tree as structured text.

Users may want to select content based on structure alone (as offered by Amaya) but also based on how the content has been rendered. For instance, most user agents allow users to select ranges of text content that may cross "element boundaries".

3.1.3 Access to equivalent alternatives of content

Authors provide equivalent alternatives to content so that users may understand the function of a page or part of a page even though they may not be able to make use of a particular content type. For example, authors must provide text equivalents for non-text content (e.g., images, video, audio presentations, etc.) because text may be rendered as speech or Braille and may be used by users with visual or hearing or both disabilities. User agents must ensure that these alternatives are available to users, either through the user interface or through an API.

How authors specify equivalent alternatives depends on the markup language used. For information about equivalent alternatives for SMIL [SMIL] content, refer to "Accessibility Features of SMIL" [SMIL-ACCESS]. In HTML 4.01 [HTML4], authors supply equivalent alternatives for content as follows:

Techniques for providing access to equivalent alternatives include the following:

3.1.4 Context

Authors and user agents provide context to users through content, structure, navigation mechanisms, and query mechanisms. Titles, dimensions, dates, relationships, the number of elements, and other metadata all help orient the user, particularly when available as text. For instance, user agents can help orient users by allowing them to request that document headers and lists be numbered. Refer also to the section on table techniques, which explains how users agents can offer table navigation and the ability to query a table cell for information about the cell's row and column position, associated header information, etc.

3.2 User control of style

To ensure accessibility, users must be able to configure the style of rendered content and the user interface. Author-specified styles, while important, may make content inaccessible to some users. User agents must allow users to increase the size of text (e.g., with a zoom mechanism or font size control), to change colors and color combinations, to slow down multimedia presentations, etc.

To give authors design flexibility and allow users to control important aspects of content style, user agents should implement CSS ([CSS1], [CSS2]) and allow users to create and apply user style sheets. CSS includes mechanisms for tailoring rendering for a particular output medium, including audio, Braille (fixed and refreshable), screen, and print.

3.3 Link techniques

User agents make links accessible by providing navigation to links, helping users decide whether to follow them, and allowing interaction in a device-independent manner. Link techniques include the following:

Jaws for Windows [JFW] offers a view for configuring a number of rendering features, notably some concerning link types, text link verbosity, image map link verbosity, graphical link verbosity, and internal links:

Jaws for Windows HTML Options menu, which allows configuration of a number of link rendering options

3.4 List techniques

User agents can make lists accessible by ensuring that list structure - and in particular, embedded list structure - is available through navigation and rendering.

3.5 Table techniques

The HTML TABLE element was designed represent relationships among data ("data" tables). Even when authored well and used according to specification, tables may pose problems for users with disabilities for a number of reasons:

For both of these situations, user agents may assist these users by providing table navigation mechanisms and supplying context that is present in a two-dimensional rendering (e.g., the cells surrounding a given cell).

To complicate matters, many authors use tables to lay out Web content ("layout" tables). Not only are table structures used to lay out objects on the screen, table elements such as TH (table header) in HTML are used to font styling rather than to indicate a true table header. These practices make it difficult for assistive technologies to rely on markup to convey document structure. Consequently, assistive technologies often must resort to interpreting the rendered content, even though the rendered content has "lost" information encoded in the markup. For instance, when an assistive technology "reads" a table is from its graphical rendering, the contents of multiline cells may become intermingled. For example, consider the following table:

This is the top left cell    This is the top right cell 
of the table.                of the table.

This is the bottom left      This is the bottom right 
cell of the table.           cell of the table.

Screen readers that read rendered content line by line would read the table cells incorrectly as "This is the top left cell This is the top right cell". So that assistive technologies are not required to gather incomplete information from renderings, these guidelines require that user agents provide access to document source through an API (refer to checkpoint 5.3).

The following sections discuss techniques for providing improved access to tables.

3.5.1 Table metadata

Users of screen readers or other serial access devices cannot gather information "at a glance" about a two-dimensional table. User agents can make tables more accessible by providing the user with table metadata such as the following:

When navigating, quick access to table metadata will allow users to decide whether to navigate within the table or skip over it. Other techniques:

3.5.2 Linear rendering of tables

A linear rendering of tables -- cells presented one at a time, row by row or column by column -- may be useful, but generally only for simple tables. For more complex tables, user agents need to convey more information about relationships among cells and their headers.

Note. The following techniques apply to columns as well as rows. The elements listed in this section are HTML 4.01 table elements ([HTML4], section 11).

3.5.3 Cell rendering

The most important aspect of rendering a table cell is that the cell's contents be rendered faithfully and be identifiable as the contents of a single cell. However, user agents may provide additional information to help orient the user:

3.5.4 Cell header algorithm

Properly constructed data tables distinguish header cells from data cells. How headers are associated with table cells depends on the markup language. The following algorithm is based on the HTML 4.01 algorithm to calculate header information ([HTML4], section 11.4.3). For the sake of brevity, it assumes a left-to-right ordering, but will work for right-to-left tables as well (refer to the "dir" attribute of HTML 4.01 [HTML4], section 8.2). For a given cell:

Not all data tables include proper header markup, which the user agent may be able to detect. Some repair strategies for finding header information include the following:

Other repair issues to consider:

3.5.5 Table navigation

To permit efficient access to tables, user agents should allow users to navigate to tables and within tables, to select individual cells, and to query them for information about the cell and the table as a whole.

3.6 Image map techniques

One way to make an image map accessible is to render the links it contains as text links. This allows assistive technologies to render the links a speech or Braille, and allows benefits users with slow access to the Web and users of small Web devices that don't support images but can support hypertext. User agents may allow users to toggle back and forth between a graphical mode for image maps and a text mode.

To construct a text version of an image map in HTML:

Furthermore, user agents that render a text image map instead of an image may preface the text image map with metadata such as:

Allow users to suppress shrink and expand text versions of image maps so that they may quickly navigate to an image map (which may be, for example, a navigation tool bar) and decide whether to "expand" it and follow the links of the map. The metadata listed above will allow users to decide whether to expand the map. Ensure that the user can expand and shrink the map and navigate its links using the keyboard and other input devices.

3.7 Frame techniques

Frames were originally designed so that authors could divide up graphic real estate and allow the pieces to change independently (e.g., selecting an entry in a table of contents in one frame changes the contents of a second frame). While frames are not inherently inaccessible, they raise some accessibility issues:

To name a frame in HTML, use the following algorithm:

  1. Use the "title" attribute on FRAME, or if not present,
  2. Use the "name" attribute on FRAME, or if not present,
  3. Use title information of the referenced frame source (e.g., the TITLE element of the source HTML document), or
  4. Use title information of the referenced long description (e.g., what "longdesc" refers to in HTML), or
  5. Use frame context (e.g., "Frame 2.1.3" to indicate the path to this frame in nested framesets).

To make frames accessible, user agents should do the following:

Consider renderings of the following document:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Frameset//EN">
<HTML lang="en">
  <META http-equiv="Content-Type" 
           content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">
  <TITLE>Time Value of Money</TITLE>

<FRAMESET COLS="*, 388">
  <FRAMESET ROWS="51, *">
    <FRAME src="sizebtn" marginheight="5" marginwidth="1" 
	   name="Size buttons" title="Size buttons">
    <FRAME src="outlinec" marginheight="4" marginwidth="4" 
	   name="Presentation Outline" 
           title="Presentation Outline">

  <FRAMESET ROWS="51, 280, *">
    <FRAME src="navbtn" marginheight="5" marginwidth="1" 
	   name="Navigation buttons" 
	   title="Navigation buttons">
    <FRAME src="slide001" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" 
	  name="Slide Image" title="Slide Image">
    <FRAME src="note001" name="Notes" title="Notes">
<P>List of Presentation Slides</P>
<LI><A HREF="slide001">Time Value of Money</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide002">Topic Overview</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide003">Terms and Short Hand</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide004">Future Value of a Single CF</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide005">Example 1: FV example:The
NBA’s new Larry Bird exception</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide006">FV Example: NBA’s Larry
Bird Exception (cont.)</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide007">SuperStar’s Contract
<LI><A HREF="slide008">Present Value of a Single
Cash Flow</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide009">Example 2: Paying Jr, and
<LI><A HREF="slide010">Example 3: Finding Rate of
Return or Interest Rate</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide011">Annuities</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide012">FV of Annuities</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide013">PV of Annuities</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide014">Example 4: Invest Early in
an IRA</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide015">Example 4 Solution</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide016">Example 5: Lotto Fever
<LI><A HREF="slide017">Uneven Cash Flows: Example
6:Fun with the CF function</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide018">Example 6 CF worksheet inputs</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide019">CF inputs continued</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide020">Non-Annual Interest
<LI><A HREF="slide021">Example 7: What rate are
you really paying?</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide022">Nominal to EAR Calculator</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide023">Continuous Interest Compounding</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide024">FV and PV with non-annual
interest compounding</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide025">Non-annual annuities</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide026">Example 8: Finding Monthly
Mortgage Payment</A>
<LI><A HREF="slide027">solution to Example 8</A>

The following examples show how some user agents handle this frameset. First, rendering in Internet Explorer [IE]:

Example frameset with five frame panes rendered in Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0

Rendering by Lynx [LYNX]:

                                        Time Value of Money

   FRAME: Size buttons
   FRAME: Presentation Outline
   FRAME: Navigation buttons
   FRAME: Slide Image
   FRAME: Notes

   List of Presentation Slides
    1. Time Value of Money 
    2. Topic Overview 
    3. Terms and Short Hand 
    4. Future Value of a Single CF 
    5. Example 1: FV example:The NBA's new Larry Bird exception 
    6. FV Example: NBA's Larry Bird Exception (cont.) 
    7. SuperStar's Contract Breakdown 
    8. Present Value of a Single Cash Flow 
    9. Example 2: Paying Jr, and A-Rod 
   10. Example 3: Finding Rate of Return or Interest Rate 
   11. Annuities 
   12. FV of Annuities 
   13. PV of Annuities 
   14. Example 4: Invest Early in an IRA 
   15. Example 4 Solution 
   16. Example 5: Lotto Fever 
   17. Uneven Cash Flows: Example 6:Fun with the CF function 
   18. Example 6 CF worksheet inputs 
   19. CF inputs continued 
   20. Non-Annual Interest Compounding 
   21. Example 7: What rate are you really paying? 
   22. Nominal to EAR Calculator 
   23. Continuous Interest Compounding 
   24. FV and PV with non-annual interest compounding 
   25. Non-annual annuities 
   26. Example 8: Finding Monthly Mortgage Payment 
   27. solution to Example 8 

Graphical rendering by Home Page Reader [HPR]:

Example frameset with five links for each of the frame elements in
IBM home page reader

User agents may also indicate the number of frames in a document and which frame is the current frame via the menu bar or popup menus. Users can configure the user agent to include a FRAMES menu item in their menu bar. The menu bar makes the information highly visible to all users and is very accessible to assistive technologies. In the following image of the Accessible Web Browser [AWB], the menu bar indicates the number of frames and uses a check mark next to the name of the current frame:

A pull down menu indicating the number of frames in a document, the labels associated with each frame, and a check mark to indicate the current frame

3.8 Form techniques

To make forms accessible, user agents need to ensure that users may interact with them in a device-independent manner, that users can navigate to the various form controls, and that information about the form and its controls is available on demand.

3.8.1 Form navigation techniques

3.8.2 Form orientation techniques

Provide the following information about forms on demand:

3.8.3 Form control orientation techniques

Provide the following information about the controls in a form on demand (e.g., for the control with focus):

3.8.4 Form submission techniques

Users (an in particular, users with blindness or any user unaccustomed to online forms) do not want forms to be submitted without their consent. The following techniques address user control of form submissions:

3.9 Generated content techniques

User agents may help orient users by generating additional content that "announces" a context change. This may be done through CSS 2 [CSS2] style sheets using a combination of selectors (including the ':before' and ':after' pseudo-elements described in section 12.1) and the 'content' property (section 12.2).

For instance, the user might choose to hear "language:German" when the natural language changes to German and "language:default" when it changes back. This may be implemented in CSS 2 with the ':before' and ':after' pseudo-elements ([CSS2], section 5.12.3)

For example, with the following definition in the stylesheet:

    [lang|=es]:before { content: "start Spanish "; }
    [lang|=es]:after  { content: " end Spanish"; }

the following HTML example:

<P lang="es" class="Spanish">
 <A href="foo_esp.html" 
    hreflang="es">Esta pagina en español</A></P>

might be spoken "start Spanish _Esta pagina en espanol_ end Spanish". Refer also to information on matching attributes and attribute values useful for language matching in CSS 2 ([CSS2], section 5.8.1).

The following example uses style sheets to distinguish visited from unvisited links with color and a text prefix.

The phrase "Visited link:" is inserted before every visited link:

    A:link           { color: red }     /* For unvisited links */
    A:visited        { color: green }   /* For visited links */
    A:visited:before { content: "Visited link: "; }

To hide content, use the CSS 'display' or 'visibility' properties ([CSS2], sections 9.2.5 and 11.2, respectively). The 'display' property suppresses rendering of an entire subtree. The 'visibility' property causes the user agent to generate a rendering structure, but display it invisibly (which means it takes up space, but cannot be seen).

The following XSLT style sheet (excerpted from the XSLT Recommendation [XSLT], Section 7.7) shows how to one might number H4 elements in HTML with a three-part label.


<xsl:template match="H4">
     <xsl:number level="any" from="H1" count="H2"/>
     <xsl:number level="any" from="H2" count="H3"/>
     <xsl:number level="any" from="H3" count="H4"/>
     <xsl:text> </xsl:text>

End example.

3.10 Script and applet techniques

User agents must make dynamic content accessible to users who may be disoriented by changes in content, who may have a physical disability that prevents them from interacting with a document within a time interval specified by the author, or whose user agent does not support scripts or applets. Not only must user agents must make available equivalent alternatives to dynamic content, they must allow users to turn off scripts, to stop animations, adjust timing parameters, etc.

3.10.1 Script techniques

Certain elements of a markup language may have associated event handlers that are triggered when certain events occur. User agents must be able to identify those elements with event handlers statically associated (i.e., associated in the document source, not in a script). In HTML 4.01 ([HTML4], section 18.2.3), intrinsic events are specified by the attributes beginning with the prefix "on": "onblur", "onchange", "onclick", "ondblclick", "onkeydown", "onkeypress", "onkeyup", "onload", "onmousedown", "onmousemove", "onmouseout", "onmouseover", "onmouseup", "onreset", "onselect", "onsubmit", and "onunload".

Techniques for providing access to scripts include the following:

3.10.2 Applet techniques

When a user agent loads an applet, it should support the Java system conventions for loading an assistive technology (refer to the appendix on loading assistive technologies for DOM access). If the user is accessing the applet through an assistive technology, the assistive technology should notify the user when the applet receives content focus as this will likely result in the launch of an associated plug-in or browser-specific Java Virtual Machine. The user agent then needs to turn control of the applet over to the assistive technology. User agents must make available equivalent alternatives to the assistive technology. Applets generally include an application frame that provides title information.

3.11 Input configuration techniques

User agents that allow users to modify default input configurations must account for configuration information from several sources: user agent defaults, user preferences, author-specified configurations, and operating system conventions. In HTML, the author may specify keyboard bindings with the "accesskey" attribute ([HTML4], section 17.11.2). Users generally specify their preferences through the user interface but may also do so programmatically or through a profile. The user agent may also consider user preferences set at the operating system level.

To the user, the most important information is the configuration once all sources have been cascaded (combined) and all conflicts resolved. Knowing the default configuration is also important; checkpoint 11.3 requires that the default configuration be documented. The user may also want to know how the current configuration differs from the default configuration and what configuration in the current viewport comes from the author. This information may also be useful to technical support personnel who may be assisting users.

3.11.1 Resolution of input configuration conflicts

In general, user preferences should override other configurations, however this may not always be desirable. For example, users should be prevented from configuring the user agent in a way that would interfere with important functionalities such as quitting the user agent or reconfiguring it.

Some possible options user agents may make available to the user to resolve conflicts include:

3.11.2 Invocation through the input configuration

Users may want to use a keyboard or voice binding to shift focus without actually triggering the associated functionality (refer to parallel behavior described for navigation of active elements in the section on sequential navigation techniques). First-time users may want to access additional information before deciding whether to activate a control. More experienced users or those familiar with a page may want to select and activate in one step. Therefore, the user agent may provide the user with the following options:

  1. On invocation of the input binding, move focus to the associated active element, but do not activate it.
  2. On invocation of the input binding, move focus to the associated active element and prompt the user with information that will allow the user to decide whether to activate the element (e.g., link title or text). Allow the user to suppress future prompts for this particular input binding.
  3. On invocation of the input binding, move focus to the associated active element and activate it.

3.12 Synthesized speech techniques

The following techniques apply to any user agent that renders content as synthesized speech. Refer to "Speak to Write" [SPEAK2WRITE] for information on speech recognition and accessibility.

4 Appendix: Accessibility features of some operating systems

Several mainstream operating systems now include built-in accessibility features designed to assist individuals with varying abilities. Despite operating systems differences, the built-in accessibility features use a similar naming convention and offer similar functionalities, within the limits imposed by each operating system (or particular hardware platform). The following is a list of built-in accessibility features from several platforms:

StickyKeys allows users who have difficulties with pressing several keys simultaneously to press and release sequentially each key of the configuration.
These allow users to move the mouse cursor and activate the mouse button(s) from the keyboard.
RepeatKeys allows users to set how fast a key repeats ("repeat rate") when the key is held pressed. It also allows users to control how quickly the key starts to repeat after the key has been pressed ("delay until repeat"). Users can also turn of key repeating.
SlowKeys instructs the computer not to accept a key as pressed until it has been pressed and held down for more than a user-configurable length of time.
BounceKeys prevents extra characters from being typed if the user bounces (e.g., due to a tremor) on the same key when pressing or releasing it.
ToggleKeys provides an audible indication for the status of keys that have a toggled state (keys that maintain status after being released). The most common toggling keys include Caps Lock, Num Lock, and Scroll Lock.
SoundSentry monitors the operating system and applications for sounds in order to provide a graphical indication when a sound is being played. Older versions of SoundSentry may have flashed the entire display screen for example, while newer versions of SoundSentry provide the user with a selection of options, such as flashing the active window or flashing the active window caption bar.

The next three built-in accessibility features are not as commonly available as the above group of features, but are included here for definition, completeness, and future compatibility.

ShowSounds are user settings or software switches that the user wishes audio information to be presented graphically as well. Applications may use these switches as the basis of user preferences.
HighContrast sets fonts and colors designed to make the screen easier to read.
TimeOut turns of built-in accessibility features automatically if the computer remains idle for a user-configurable length of time. This is useful for computers in public settings such as a library. TimeOut might also be referred to as "reset" or "automatic reset".

The next accessibility feature listed here is not considered to be a built-in accessibility feature (since it only provides an alternate input channel) and is presented here only for definition, completeness, and future compatibility.

SerialKeys allows a user to perform all keyboard and mouse functions from an external assistive device (such as communication aid) communicating with the computer via a serial character stream (e.g., serial port, IR port, etc.) rather than or in conjunction with, the keyboard, mouse, and other standard input devices/methods.

Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98, and Window NT 4.0

To find out about built-in accessibility features on Windows platforms, ask the system via the "SystemParametersInfo" function. Please refer to [MS-ENABLE] for more information.

For information about Microsoft keyboard configurations (Internet Explorer, Windows 95, Windows 98, and more), refer to documentation on keyboard assistance for Internet Explorer and MS Windows [MS-KEYBOARD].

The following accessibility features can be adjusted from the Accessibility Options Control Panel:

Additional accessibility features available in Windows 98:

Magnifier is a windowed, screen enlargement and enhancement program used by persons with low vision to magnify an area of the graphical display (e.g., by tracking the text cursor, current focus, etc.). Magnifier can also invert the colors used by the system within the magnification window.
Accessibility Wizard
The Accessibility Wizard is a setup tool to assist users with the configuration of system accessibility features.

Apple Macintosh operating system

The following accessibility features can be adjusted from the Easy Access Control panel. Note. By Apple convention, accessibility features have spaces between names.

The following accessibility features can be adjusted from the Keyboard Control Panel.

The following accessibility feature can be adjusted from the Sound or Monitors and Sound Control Panel (depending on system version).

Additional accessibility features available for the Macintosh OS:

CloseView is a full screen, screen enlargement and enhancement program used by persons with low vision to magnify the information on the graphical display, and it can also change the colors used by the system.
SerialKeys is available as freeware from Apple and several other Web sites.

AccessX, X Keyboard Extension (XKB), and the X Window System

The following accessibility features can be adjusted from the AccessX graphical user interface X client on some DEC, SUN, and SGI operating systems. Other systems supporting XKB may require the user to manipulate the features via a command line parameter(s).

Note. AccessX became a supported part of the X Window System X Server with the release of the X Keyboard Extension in version X11R6.1

DOS (Disk Operating System)

The following accessibility features are available from a freeware program called AccessDOS, which is available from several Internet Web sites including IBM, Microsoft, and the Trace Center, for either PC-DOS or MS-DOS versions 3.3 or higher.

5 Appendix: Loading assistive technologies for access to the document object model

Many of the checkpoints in the guidelines require a "host" user agent to communicate information about content and the user interface to assistive technologies. This appendix explains how developers can ensure the timely exchange of this information (refer to checkpoint 5.8). The techniques described here include:

  1. Loading the entire assistive technology in the address space of the host user agent;
  2. Loading part of the assistive technology in the address space of the host user agent (e.g., piece of stub code, a dynamically linked library (DLL), a browser helper object, etc.);
  3. Out-of-process access to the document object model.

The first two techniques are similar, differing is the amount of, or capability of, the assistive technology loaded in the same process or address space as the host user agent. These techniques are likely to provide faster access to the document object model since they will not be subject to inter-process communication overhead.

Note. This appendix does not address specialized user agents that offer assistive technology functions natively (e.g., [PWWEBSPEAK]).

Loading assistive technologies for direct navigation of the document object model

First, the host user agent needs to know which assistive technology to load. One technique for this is to store a reference to an assistive technology in a system registry file or, in the case of Java, a properties file. Registry files are common among many operating system platforms:

Here is an example entry for Java:


In Windows, a similar technique could be followed by storing the name of a Dynamic Link Library (DLL) for an assistive technology in a designated assistive technology key name/assistive technology pair.

Here is an example entry for Windows:

           "ScreenReader, VoiceNavigation"

Attaching the assistive technologies to the document object model

Once the assistive technology has been registered, any other user agent can determine whether it needs to be loaded and then load it. Once loaded, the assistive technology can monitor the document object model (DOM) as needed.

On a non-Java platform, a technique to do this would be to create a separate thread with a reference to the DOM using a DLL. This new thread will load the DLL and call a specified DLL entry name with a pointer to the DOM interface. The assistive technology process will then run as long as required.

The assistive technology has the option of communicating with a main assistive technology of its own and process the DOM as a caching mechanism for the main assistive technology application or be used as a bridge to the DOM for the main assistive technology.

In the future, it will be necessary to provide a more comprehensive reference to the application that not only provides direct navigation to its client area DOM, but also multiple DOMs that it is processing and an event model for monitoring them.

Java's direct access

Java is a working example where the direct access to application components is executed in a timely manner. Here, an assistive technology running on a separate thread monitors user interface events such as focus changes. When focus changes, the assistive technology is notified of which component object has focus. The assistive technology can communicate directly with all components in the application by walking the parent/child hierarchy and connecting to each component's methods and monitor events directly. In this case, an assistive technology has direct access to component specific methods as well as those provided for by the Java Accessibility API. There is no reason that a DOM interface to user agent components could not be provided.

In Java 1.1.x, Sun's Java access utilities load an assistive by monitoring the Java awt.properties file for the presence of assistive technologies and loads them as shown in the following code example:

import java.awt.*;
import java.util.*;
String atNames = Toolkit.getProperty("AWT.assistive_technologies",null);
if (atNames != null) {
    StringTokenizer parser = new StringTokenizer(atNames," ,");
    String atName;
    while (parser.hasMoreTokens()) {
       atName = parser.nextToken();
       try {
       catch (ClassNotFoundException e) {
          throw new AWTError("Assistive Technology not found: " + atName);
       catch (InstantiationException e) {
          throw new AWTError("Could not instantiate Assistive" + 
                             " Technology: " + atName);
       catch (IllegalAccessException e) {
          throw new AWTError("Could not access Assistive" + 
                             " Technology: " + atName);
       } catch (Exception e) {
          throw new AWTError("Error trying to install Assistive" + 
                             " Technology: " + atName + " " + e);

In the above code example, the function Class.forName(atName).newInstance() creates a new instance of the assistive technology. The constructor for the assistive technology will then be responsible for monitoring application component objects by monitoring system events.

In the following code example, the constructor for the assistive technology, AccessEngine, adds a focus change listener using Java accessibility utilities. When the assistive technology is notified of an objects gaining focus it has direct access to that object. If the Object, o, has implemented a DOM interface, the assistive technology will have direct access to the DOM in the same process space as the application.

   import java.awt.*;
   import javax.accessibility.*;
   import com.sun.java.accessibility.util.*;
   import java.awt.event.FocusListener;

   class AccessEngine implements FocusListener {
      public AccessEngine() {
         //Add the AccessEngine as a focus change listener
      public void focusGained(FocusEvent theEvent) {
         // get the component object source
         Object o = theEvent.getSource();
         // check to see if this is a DOM component
         if (o instanceof DOM) {
      public void focusLost(FocusEvent theEvent) {
         // Do Nothing

In this example, the assistive technology has the option of running stand-alone or acting as a cache for a bridge that communicates with a main assistive technology running outside the Java virtual machine.

Loading part of the assistive technologies for direct access to the document object model

In order to attach to a running instance of Internet Explorer 4.0, you can use a Browser Helper Object ([BHO]), which is a DLL that will attach itself to every new instance of Internet Explorer 4.0 [IE] (only if you explicitly run iexplore.exe). You can use this feature to gain access to the object model of a particular running instance of Internet Explorer. You can also use this feature to get events from an instance of Internet Explorer 4.0. This can be tremendously helpful when many method calls need to be made to IE, as each call will be executed much more quickly than the out of process case.

There are some requirements when creating a Browser Helper Object:

Java access bridge

To provide native Windows assistive technologies access to Java applications without creating a Java native solution, Sun Microsystems provides the "Java Access Bridge." This bridge is loaded as an assistive technology as described in the section on loading assistive technologies for direct navigation of the document object model. The bridge uses a Java Native Invocation (JNI) to Dynamic Link Library (DLL) communication and caching mechanism that allows a native assistive technology to gather and monitor accessibility information in the Java environment. In this environment, the assistive technology determines that a Java application or applet is running and communicates with the Java Access Bridge DLL to process accessibility information about the application/applet running in the Java Virtual Machine.

Loading assistive technologies for indirect access to the document object model

Access to application specific data across process boundaries or address space might be costly in terms of performance. However, there are other reasons to consider when accessing the document object model that might lead a developer to wish to access the it from their own process or memory address space. One obvious protection this method provides is that, if the user agent application fails, it does not disable the user's assistive technology as well. Another consideration would be legacy systems, where the user relies on their assistive technology for access to applications other than the user agent, and thus would have their application loaded all the time.

There are several ways to gain access to the user agent's document object model. Most user agents support some kind of external interface, or act as a mini-server to other applications running on the desktop. Internet Explorer [IE] is a good example of this, as IE can behave as a component object model (COM) server to other applications. Mozilla [MOZILLA], the open source release of Navigator also supports cross platform COM (XPCOM).

The following example illustrates the use of COM to access the IE object model. This is an example of how to use COM to get a pointer to the WebBrowser2 module, which in turn enables access to an interface/pointer to the document object, or IE DOM for the content.

   /* first, get a pointer to the WebBrowser2 control */
   if (m_pIE == NULL) {
      hr = CoCreateInstance(CLSID_InternetExplorer, 
           NULL, CLSCTX_LOCAL_SERVER, IID_IWebBrowser2, 

      /* next, get a interface/pointer to the document in view, 
         this is an interface to the document object model (DOM)*/

      void CHelpdbDlg::Digest_Document() {
         HRESULT hr;
         if (m_pIE != NULL) {
            IDispatch* pDisp;
            hr = m_pIE->QueryInterface(IID_IDispatch, (void**) &pDisp);
            if (SUCCEEDED(hr)) {
               IDispatch* lDisp;
               hr = m_pIE->get_Document(&lDisp);
               if (SUCCEEDED(hr)) {
                   IHTMLDocument2* pHTMLDocument2;
                   hr = lDisp->QueryInterface(IID_IHTMLDocument2,
                               (void**) &pHTMLDocument2);
                   if (SUCCEEDED(hr)) {
                   /* with this interface/pointer, IHTMLDocument2*,
                      you can then work on the document */
                      IHTMLElementCollection* pColl;
                      hr = pHTMLDocument2->get_all(&pColl);
                      if (SUCCEEDED(hr)) {
                         LONG c_elem;
                         hr = pColl->get_length(&c_elem);
                         if (SUCCEEDED(hr)) {
                            FindElements(c_elem, pColl);

For a working example of this method, refer to [HELPDB].

6 Appendix: Glossary

Active element
An active element is an element with behaviors that may be activated (or "triggered") either through the user interface or through scripts. Which elements are active depends on the document language and whether the features are supported by the user agent. In HTML 4.01 [HTML4] documents, for example, active elements include links, image maps, form controls, element instances with a value for the "longdesc" attribute, and element instances with scripts (event handlers) explicitly associated with them (e.g., through the various "on" attributes). Most systems use the content focus to navigate active elements and identify which is to be activated. An active element's behavior may be triggered through any number of mechanisms, including the mouse, keyboard, an API, etc. The effect of activation depends on the element. For instance, when a link is activated, the user agent generally retrieves the linked resource. When a form control is activated, it may change state (e.g., check boxes) or may take user input (e.g., a text field). Activating an element with a script assigned for that particular activation mechanism (e.g., mouse down event, key press event, etc.) causes the script to be executed.
Audio presentation
An audio presentation is a stand-alone audio track. Examples of audio presentations include a musical performance, a radio-style news broadcast, and a book reading. When an audio presentation includes natural language, one can create a text equivalent for it (text transcript or captions). The term "audio presentation" is contrasted with "sounds" (e.g., beeps, sound effects, etc.).
Equivalent alternatives for content
Since rendered content in some forms is not always accessible to users with disabilities, authors must supply equivalent alternatives for content. In the context of this document, the equivalent must fulfill essentially the same function for the person with a disability (at least insofar as is feasible, given the nature of the disability and the state of technology), as the "primary" content does for the person without any disability. For example, the text "The Full Moon" might convey the same information as an image of a full moon when presented to users. Note that equivalent information focuses on fulfilling the same function. If the image is part of a link and understanding the image is crucial to guessing the link target, an equivalent must also give users an idea of the link target.
Equivalent alternatives of content include text equivalents (long and short, synchronized and unsynchronized) and non-text equivalents (e.g., auditory descriptions, a visual track that shows a sign language translation of a written text, etc.). Please also consult the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10] and its associated Techniques document [WCAG10-TECHS].
Each markup language defines its own mechanisms for specifying equivalent alternatives. For instance, in HTML 4.01 [HTML4] or SMIL 1.0 [SMIL], the "alt" attribute specifies alternative text for many elements. In HTML 4.01, authors may provide alternatives in attribute values (e.g., the "summary" attribute for the TABLE element), in element content (e.g., OBJECT for external content it specifies, NOFRAMES for frame alternatives, and NOSCRIPT for script alternatives), and in prose.
Application Programming Interface (API)
An application programming interface (API) defines how communication may take place between applications.
Assistive technology
In the context of this document, an assistive technology is a user agent that relies on one or more other user agents to help people with disabilities interact with a computer. For example, screen reader software is an assistive technology because it relies on browsers or other application software to enable Web access, particularly for people with visual and learning disabilities.

Examples of assistive technologies that are important in the context of this document include the following:

Beyond this document, assistive technologies consist of software or hardware that has been specifically designed to assist people with disabilities in carrying out daily activities, e.g., wheelchairs, reading machines, devices for grasping, text telephones, vibrating pagers, etc.
Auditory description
An auditory description is either a prerecorded human voice or a synthesized voice (recorded or generated dynamically) describing the key visual elements of a presentation. The auditory description is synchronized with the auditory track of the presentation, usually during natural pauses in the auditory track. Auditory descriptions include information about actions, body language, graphics, and scene changes.
Author styles
Authors styles are style property values that come from a document, its associated style sheets, or are generated by the server.
Captions (or sometimes "closed captions") are text transcripts that are synchronized with other auditory or visual tracks. Captions convey information about spoken words and non-spoken sounds such as sound effects. They benefit people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, and anyone who cannot hear the audio (e.g., someone in a noisy environment). Captions are generally rendered graphically above, below, or superimposed over video. Note. Other terms that include the word "caption" may have different meanings in this document. For instance, a "table caption" is a title for the table, often positioned graphically above or below the table. In this document, the intended meaning of "caption" will be clear from context.
Collated text transcript
A collated text transcript is a text equivalent of a movie or animation. More specifically, it is the combination of the text transcript of the auditory track and the text equivalent of the visual track. For example, a collated text transcript typically includes segments of spoken dialogue interspersed with text descriptions of the key visual elements of a presentation (actions, body language, graphics, and scene changes). Refer also to the definitions of text transcript and auditory description. Collated text transcripts are essential for individuals who are deaf-blind.
In the context of this document, to configure means to choose preferred settings (for interface layout, user agent behavior, rendering style, etc.) from a set of options. This may be done through the user agent's user interface, through profiles, style sheets, by scripts, etc.
In this document, content means the document source, including its elements, attributes, comments, and other features defined by a markup language specification such as HTML 4.01 or an XML application. Refer also to the definitions of rendered content and equivalent alternatives for content
In this document, the noun "control" means "user interface component" or "form component".
Device-independence refers to the ability to make use of software via the API for any supported input or output device API. User agents should follow operating system conventions and use standard system APIs for device input and output.
Documentation refers to all information provided by the vendor about a product, including all product manuals, installation instructions, the help system, and tutorials.
Document Object Model (DOM)
A document object model is an interface to a standardized tree structure representation of a document. This interface allows authors to access and modify the document with client-side scripting language (e.g., JavaScript) in a consistent manner across scripting languages. As a standard interface, a document object model makes it easier not just for authors but for assistive technology developers to extract information and render it in ways most suited to the needs of particular users. The relevant W3C DOM Recommendations are listed in the references.
Events and scripting, event handler
User agents often perform a task when a certain event occurs, caused by user interaction (e.g., mouse motion or a key press), a request from the operating system, etc. Some markup languages allow authors to specify that a script, called an event handler), be executed when a specific event occurs, such as document loading and unloading, mouse press or hover events, keyboard events, and other user interface events. Note. The combination of HTML, style sheets, the Document Object Model, and scripting is commonly referred to as "Dynamic HTML" or DHTML. However, as there is no W3C specification that formally defines DHTML, this document only refers to event handlers and scripts.
Focus, content focus, user interface focus, current focus
The notion of focus refers to two identifying mechanisms of user agents:
  1. The "content focus" designates an active element in a document. A viewport has at most one content focus.
  2. The "user interface focus" designates a control of the user interface that will respond to user input (e.g., a radio button, text box, menu, etc.).
The term "focus" encompasses both types of focus. Where one is meant specifically in this document, it is identified.
When several viewports co-exist, each may have a content and user interface focus. At all times, only one content focus or one user interface focus is active, called the current focus. The current focus responds to user input. The current may be toggled between content focus and user interface focus through the keyboard, pointing device, etc. Both the content and user interface focus may be highlighted. Refer also to the definition of point of regard.
In this document, the graphical refers to information (text, graphics, colors, etc.) rendered for visual consumption.
A highlight mechanism emphasizes selected or focused content. For example, graphical highlight mechanisms include dotted boxes, underlining, and reverse video. Synthesized speech highlight mechanisms include alterations of voice pitch or volume.
Input configuration
An input configuration is the mapping of user agent functionalities to some user interface trigger mechanisms (menus, buttons, keyboard keys, voice commands). The default input configuration is the mapping the user finds after installation of the software; it must be part of the user agent documentation.
Native support
A user agent supports a feature natively if it does not require another piece of software (e.g., plug-in or external program) for support. Operating system features adopted as part of the user agent are considered native. However, since the user agent is responsible for the accessibility of native features, it is also considered responsible for the accessibility of adopted operating system features.
Natural language
Natural language is spoken, written, or signed human language such as French, Japanese, and American Sign Language. On the Web, the natural language of content may be specified by markup or HTTP headers. Some examples include the "lang" attribute in HTML 4.01 ([HTML4] section 8.1), the "xml:lang" attribute in XML 1.0 ([XML], section 2.12), the HTML 4.01 "hreflang" attribute for links in HTML 4.01 ([HTML4], section 12.1.5), the HTTP Content-Language header ([RFC2616], section 14.12) and the Accept-Language request header ([RFC2616], section 14.4). The Accept-Language request restricts the set of natural languages that are preferred as a response to a request.
Offscreen model
An offscreen model is rendered content created by an assistive technology that is based on the rendered content of another user agent. For instance, a speech synthesizer might take what's rendered on the screen and convert it too speech. While knowing about the user agent's formatting may provide some useful information to assistive technologies, this document emphasizes access to the Document Object Model rather than a particular rendering. For instance, instead of relying on system calls to draw text, assistive technologies should access the text through the document object model.
Assistive technologies that rely on an offscreen model generally construct it by intercepting standard system drawing calls. For example, in the case of display drivers, some screen readers are designed to monitor what is drawn on the screen by hooking drawing calls at different points in the drawing process.
Point of regard
The point of regard of a viewport is its position in rendered content. Since users may be viewing rendered content with browsers that render in various ways (graphically, as speech, as Braille, etc.), what is meant precisely by "the point of regard" may vary. It may, depending on the user agent and browsing context, refer to a two dimensional area (e.g., for graphical rendering) or a single point (e.g., for aural rendering or voice browsing). The point of regard may also refer to a particular moment in time for content that changes over time (e.g., an audio presentation). User agents may use the focus, selection, or other means to designate the point of regard. A user agent should not change the point of regard unexpectedly as this may disorient the user.
Properties, values, and defaults
A user agent renders a document by applying formatting algorithms and style information to the document's elements. Formatting depends on a number of factors, including where the document is rendered: on screen, on paper, through speakers, on a Braille display, on a mobile device, etc. Style information (e.g., fonts, colors, voice inflection, etc.) may come from the elements themselves (e.g., certain style attributes in HTML), from style sheets, or from user agent settings. For the purposes of these guidelines, each formatting or style option is governed by a property and each property may take one value from a set of legal values. Generally in this document, the term "property" has the meaning defined in CSS 2 ([CSS2], section 3). A reference to "styles" in this document means a set of style-related properties.
The value given to a property by a user agent when it is installed is called the property's default value.
A profile is a named and persistent representation of user preferences that may be used to configure a user agent. Preferences include input configurations, style preferences, etc. On systems with distinct user accounts, profiles enable users to reconfigure software quickly when they log on, and they may be shared by several users. Platform-independent profiles are useful for those who use the same user agent on different platforms. Profiles that may be saved in a human-readable format are useful to technical support personnel.
A user agent is said to recognize markup, content types, or rendering effects when it can identify the information. Recognition may occur through built-in mechanisms, Document Type Definitions (DTDs) style sheets, headers, other means. An example of failure of recognition is that HTML 3.2 user agents may not recognize the new elements or attributes of HTML 4.01 [HTML4]. While a user agent may recognize blinking content specified by elements or attributes, it may not recognize blinking in an applet. The Techniques Document [UAAG10-TECHS] lists some markup known to affect accessibility that should be recognized by user agents.
Rendered content
Rendered content is the part of content that is rendered after the application of style sheets, transformations, user agent settings, etc. The content rendered for a given element may be what appears between the element's start and end tags, the value of an attribute (cf. the "alt", "title", and "longdesc" attributes in HTML), or external data (e.g., the IMG element in HTML). Content may be rendered to a graphical display, to an auditory display (to a speaker device as speech and non-speech sounds) or to a tactile display (Braille and haptic displays).
Selection, current selection
The selection generally identifies a range of content (text, images, etc.) in a document. The selection may be structured (based on the document tree) or unstructured (e.g., text-based). Content may be selected through user interaction, scripts, etc. The selection may be used for a variety of purposes: for cut and paste operations, to designate a specific element in a document, to identify what a screen reader should read, etc.
The selection may be set by the user (e.g., by a pointing device or the keyboard) or through an application programming interface (API). A viewport has at most one selection (though the selection may be rendered graphically as discontinuous text fragments). When several viewports co-exist, each may have a selection, but only one is active, called the current selection.
On the screen, the selection may be highlighted using colors, fonts, graphics, magnification, etc. The selection may also be rendered as inflected speech, for example.
Text transcript
A text transcript is a text equivalent of audio information (e.g., an audio presentation or the auditory track of a movie or animation). It provides text for both spoken words and non-spoken sounds such as sound effects. Text transcripts make audio information accessible to people who have hearing disabilities and to people who cannot play the audio. Text transcripts are usually pre-written but may be generated on the fly (e.g., by speech-to-text converters). Refer also to the definitions of captions and collated text transcripts.
Standard device APIs
Operating systems are designed to be used by default with devices such as pointing devices, keyboards, voice input, etc. The operating system (or windowing system) provides "standard APIs" for these devices. On desktop computers today, the standard input APIs are for the mouse and keyboard. For touch screen devices or mobile devices, standard input APIs may include stylus, buttons, voice, etc. The display and sound card are considered standard ouput devices for a graphical desktop computer environment and each has a standard API.
User-initiated, user agent initiated
An action initiated by the user is one that results from user operation of the user interface. An action initiated by the user agent is one that results from the execution of a script (e.g., an event handler bound to an event not triggered through the user interface), from operating system conditions, or from built-in user agent behavior.
User agent
A user agent is an application that retrieves and renders Web content, including text, graphics, sounds, video, images, and other objects. A user agent may require additional user agents that handle some types of content. For instance, a browser may run a separate program or plug-in to render sound or video. User agents include graphical desktop browsers, multimedia players, text browsers, voice browsers, and assistive technologies such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, speech synthesizers, onscreen keyboards, and voice input software.
User interface
For the purposes of this document, user interface includes both:
  1. the "user agent user interface", i.e., the controls and mechanisms offered by the user agent for user interaction, such as menus, buttons, keyboard access, etc.
  2. the "content user interface", i.e., the active elements that are part of content, such as form controls, links, applets, etc. that are implemented natively.
The document distinguishes them only where required for clarity.
User styles
User styles are style property values that come from user interface settings, user style sheets, or other user interactions.
Views, viewports, and current viewport
User agents may handle different types of content: a markup language, sound objects, video objects, etc. The user views rendered content through a viewport, which may be a window, a frame, a piece of paper, a speaker, a virtual magnifying glass, etc. A viewport may contain another viewport (e.g., nested frames). Viewports do not include other user interface controls that may open, such as prompts, menus, alerts, etc.
User agents may render the same content in a variety of ways; each rendering is called a view. For instance, a user agent may allow users to view an entire document or just a list of the document's headers. These are two different views of the document.
The view corresponds to how source information is rendered and the viewport is where it is rendered. The viewport that contains both the current focus and the current selection is called the current viewport. The current viewport is generally highlighted when several viewports co-exist.
A viewport may not give users access to all rendered content at once. In this case, the user agent should provide a scrolling mechanism or advance and rewind mechanism.

7 Acknowledgments

The active participants of the User Agent Guidelines Working Group who produced this document were: James Allan, Denis Anson, Kitch Barnicle, Harvey Bingham, Dick Brown, Al Gilman, Jon Gunderson, Ian Jacobs, Marja-Riitta Koivunen, Charles McCathieNevile, Mark Novak, David Poehlman, Mickey Quenzer, Gregory Rosmaita, Madeleine Rothberg, and Rich Schwerdtfeger.

Many thanks to the following people who have contributed through review and past participation: Paul Adelson, Olivier Borius, Judy Brewer, Bryan Campbell, Kevin Carey, Wendy Chisholm, David Clark, Chetz Colwell, Wilson Craig, Nir Dagan, Daniel Dardailler, B. K. Delong, Neal Ewers, Geoff Freed, John Gardner, Larry Goldberg, Glen Gordon, John Grotting, Markku Hakkinen, Eric Hansen, Earle Harrison, Chris Hasser, Kathy Hewitt, Philipp Hoschka, Masayasu Ishikawa, Phill Jenkins, Earl Johnson, Jan Kärrman (for help with html2ps), Leonard Kasday, George Kerscher, Peter Korn, Josh Krieger, Catherine Laws, Greg Lowney, Susan Lesch, Scott Luebking, William Loughborough, Napoleon Maou, Peter Meijer, Karen Moses, Masafumi Nakane, Charles Oppermann, Mike Paciello, David Pawson, Michael Pederson, Helen Petrie, Michael Pieper, Jan Richards, Hans Riesebos, Joe Roeder, Lakespur L. Roca, Lloyd Rutledge, Liam Quinn, T.V. Raman, Robert Savellis, Constantine Stephanidis, Jim Thatcher, Jutta Treviranus, Claus Thogersen, Steve Tyler, Gregg Vanderheiden, Jaap van Lelieveld, Jon S. von Tetzchner, Willie Walker, Ben Weiss, Evan Wies, Chris Wilson, Henk Wittingen, and Tom Wlodkowski.

8 References

For the latest version of any W3C specification please consult the list of W3C Technical Reports at http://www.w3.org/TR.

"Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0", J. Treviranus, C. McCathieNevile,, I. Jacobs, and J. Richards, eds. The 3 February 2000 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/2000/REC-ATAG10-20000203.
"Techniques for Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0", J. Treviranus, C. McCathieNevile,, I. Jacobs, and J. Richards, eds. The latest version of this techniques document is http://www.w3.org/TR/ATAG10-TECHS/.
"Character Model for the World Wide Web", M. Dürst, 25 February 1999. This W3C Working Draft is http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WD-charmod-19990225.
"Accessibility Features of CSS", I. Jacobs, J. Brewer, The latest version of this W3C Note is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS-access.
"CSS, level 1 Recommendation", B. Bos, H. Wium Lie, eds., 17 December 1996, revised 11 January 1999. This CSS 1 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/REC-CSS1-19990111.
"CSS, level 2 Recommendation", B. Bos, H. Wium Lie, C. Lilley, and I. Jacobs, eds., 12 May 1998. This CSS 2 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/REC-CSS2-19980512.
"Document Object Model (DOM) Level 2 Specification", L. Wood, A. Le Hors, V. Apparao, L. Cable, M. Champion, J. Kesselman, P. Le Hégaret, T. Pixley, J. Robie, P. Sharpe, C. Wilson, eds. The latest version of the specification is available at: http://www.w3.org/TR/DOM-Level-2.
"HTML 4.01 Recommendation", D. Raggett, A. Le Hors, and I. Jacobs, eds. The 24 December 1999 HTML 4.01 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/REC-html401-19991224
"Mathematical Markup Language", P. Ion and R. Miner, eds. The 7 April 1998 MathML 1.0 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/REC-MathML-19980407
"Common Markup for micropayment per-fee-links", T. Michel, ed. The latest version of this W3C Working Draft is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/Micropayment-Markup.
"PNG (Portable Network Graphics) Specification 1.0", T. Boutell, ed., 1 October 1996. This W3C Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-png.
"Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1, J. Gettys, J. Mogul, H. Frystyk, L. Masinter, P. Leach, T. Berners-Lee, June 1999.
"Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) 1.0 Specification", P. Hoschka, editor. The 15 June 1998 SMIL 1.0 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/REC-smil-19980615
"Accessibility Features of SMIL", M-R. Koivunen, I. Jacobs. The latest version of this W3C Note is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/SMIL-access.
"User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0," J. Gunderson, I. Jacobs, eds. The latest draft of the guidelines is available at http://www.w3.org/WAI/UA/UAAG10-TECHS/
"Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0," J. Gunderson, I. Jacobs, eds. The latest draft of the techniques document is available at http://www.w3.org/WAI/UA/UAAG10-TECHS/
"Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0", W. Chisholm, G. Vanderheiden, and I. Jacobs, eds. The 5 May 1999 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WAI-WEBCONTENT-19990505
"Techniques for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0", W. Chisholm, G. Vanderheiden, and I. Jacobs, eds. The latest version of this document is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10-TECHS
"Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.0.", T. Bray, J. Paoli, C.M. Sperberg-McQueen, eds. The 10 February 1998 XML 1.0 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/REC-xml-19980210
"XSL Transformations (XSLT) Version 1.0", J. Clark. The 16 November 1999 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/REC-xslt-19991116.

9 Resources

Note. W3C does not guarantee the stability of any of the following references outside of its control. These references are included for convenience. References to products are not endorsements of those products.

9.1 Operating system and programming guidelines

Refer to the following guidelines from Apple:
Browser Helper Objects: The Browser the Way You Want It, D. Esposito, January 1999. Refer also to http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q179/2/30.asp.
"Requirements for Accessible Software Design", US Department of Education, version 1.1 March 6, 1997.
"EITAAC Desktop Software standards", Electronic Information Technology Access Advisory (EITAAC) Committee.
"Software Accessibility" IBM Special Needs Systems.
"The Inter-Client communication conventions manual". A protocol for communication between clients in the X Window system.
"An ICE Rendezvous Mechanism for X Window System Clients", W. Walker. A description of how to use the ICE and RAP protocols for X Window clients.
"IBM Guidelines for Writing Accessible Applications Using 100% Pure Java", R. Schwerdtfeger, IBM Special Needs Systems.
"Java Accessibility Guidelines and Checklist". IBM Special Needs Systems.
"The Java Tutorial. Trail: Creating a GUI with JFC/Swing". An online tutorial that describes how to use the Swing Java Foundation Class to build an accessible user interface.
Information on Java Accessibility API can be found at Java Accessibility Utilities.
The OSF/Motif Style Guide.
Information on accessibility guidelines for Windows applications. Refer also to Built-in accessibility features.
Information on keyboard assistance for Internet Explorer and MS Windows.
"The Microsoft Windows Guidelines for Accessible Software Design". Note. This page summarizes the guidelines and includes links to the full guidelines in various formats (including plain text).
Information on active accessibility can be found at the Microsoft WWW site on Active Accessibility.
National Information Standards Organization. One activity pursued by this organization concerns Digital Talking Books. Refer to the "Digital Talking Book Features List" draft for more information.
"Lotus Notes Accessibility Guidelines" IBM Special Needs Systems.
"Designing for Accessibility", Eric Bergman and Earl Johnson. This paper discusses specific disabilities including those related to hearing, vision, and cognitive function.
"Towards Accessible Human-Computer Interaction", Eric Bergman, Earl Johnson, Sun Microsytems 1995. A substantial paper, with a valuable print bibliography.
"Application Software Design Guidelines" compiled by G. Vanderheiden. A thorough reference work.
"What is Accessible Software", James W. Thatcher, Ph.D., IBM, 1997. This paper gives a short example-based introduction to the difference between software that is accessible, and software that can be used by some assistive technologies.
Information on accessibility guidelines for Unix and X Window applications. The Open Group has various guides that explain the Motif and Common Desktop Environment (CDE) with topics like how users interact with Motif/CDE applications and how to customize these environments. Note. In X, the terms client and server are used differently from their use when discussing the Web.

9.2 User agents and other tools

A list of alternative Web browsers (assistive technologies and other user agents designed for accessibility) is maintained at the WAI Web site.

The Altifier Tool generates "alt" text intelligently.
Amaya is W3C's testbed browser/editor.
The Accessible Web Browser senior project at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.
W3C's CSS Validator service.
The G2 player.
HelpDB is a test tool for Web table navigation.
Home Page Reader.
Internet Explorer. Refer also to information on using COM with IE. Refer also to information about monitoring HTML events in the IE document object model.
Java Weblets are Java client programs that access the user agent's document object model.
Jaws for Windows.
The Lynx Browser.
The Mozilla browser
Netscape Navigator.
The Opera Browser.
A table navigation script from the Trace Research Center.
W3C's HTML/XML Validator service.

9.3 Accessibility resources

"Braille Formats: Principles of Print to Braille Transcription 1997" .
The National Braille Association.
The National Braille Press
Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic
Speak to Write is a site about using speech recognition to promote accessibility.

9.4 Standards resources

"Codes for the representation of names of languages", ISO 639:1988. For more information, consult http://www.iso.ch/cate/d4766.html. Refer also to http://www.oasis-open.org/cover/iso639a.html.
The Unicode Consortium. "The Unicode Standard, Version 3.0", Reading, MA, Addison-Wesley Developers Press, 2000. ISBN 0-201-61633-5. Refer also to http://www.unicode.org/unicode/standard/versions/.