Description of Work

Project acronym: WAI-DA

Project full title: Web Accessibility Initiative - Design for All

Proposal number: IST 13470

Operative commencement date of contract: October 2000

1. Project summary

A2. Project Summary 20, Objectives (maximum 1000 characters)
The overall objective of this project is to increase accessibility of the Web in European Union member states. This objective will be accomplished by supporting and accompanying the technical and guidelines development work done at W3C/WAI with educational and tools-related activities that are specific to the European context.

Two important goals of this project, detailed in this proposal, are to sensitize European content creators through education and outreach and help implementors facing difficulties with Web access today by providing them with tools that illustrate the concepts put forward by the WAI.

Description of the work (maximum 2000 characters)
W3C proposes to combine its own membership funds with those of the European Commission IST Framework to ensure that advances in Web technologies remove, rather than reinforce, accessibility barriers. In order to increase the overall accessibility of the Web in Europe, we are planning to:
  • increase the extent of participation of individuals and organizations from European Union member states in international activities promoting Web accessibility through the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), so as to increase the activity within Europe dedicated to Web accessibility, and at the same time increase the relevance to the European situation of the international W3C/WAI work (WP03);
  • increase awareness and implementation of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines on Web sites within European Union member states, in order to increase the usability of European Web sites by people with disabilities (WP04); and
  • increase the implementation of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines in Web authoring tools used in European Union member states, so that people producing Web sites will more automatically be able to create accessible sites using these tools (WP05).
Milestones and expected results (maximum 500 characters)
Activities through mo. 4 establish subcontractors, communication, and outreach contacts, resulting in framework for activities. Activities from mo. 4 - 12 include localization of materials, reviews of Web sites, presentations, technical assistance, resulting in broader awareness of resources. Mo. 12 includes assessment of impact, updated timeline, annual report. Mo.s 13 - 24 include localization of materials; presentations, dissemination of WCAG & ATAG information, resulting in increased implementation of resources. Month 24 includes assessment of impact & final report.


The primary objective of this project is to increase accessibility of the Web within European Union member states. This objective will be accomplished by supporting and accompanying the technical and guidelines development work done at W3C/WAI with educational and tools-related activities that are specific to the European context.

Key objectives in increasing the accessibility of the Web within European Union member states:

Description of the work

WAI-DA consists of five workpackages.

The first of these workpackages ensures solid project management and coordination through a variety of communication, quality-control, and reporting deliverables.

The second of workpackage ensures a mid-course evaluation and assessment which will help re-focus project activities at midpoint if needed; and includes a final evaluation which will provide an impact assessment and a brief evaluation of project effectiveness. Evaluation will examine mid-course and final outcomes of WP03-WP05 such as increases in participation from European Union member states, increased requests for presentations and technical assistance, and increases in localized implementations of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines; also timeliness of project progress, and identification of factors requiring potential adjustments in project schedule or deliverables.

The third workpackage addresses the need to increase European participation in Web accessibility activities. This workpackage includes assembling electronic contact lists through the following communities in European Union member states: disability, industry, access research, and relevant government parties such as information technology agencies. News about W3C/WAI resources and opportunities to participate will then be sent through these contact lists. In addition WAI-DA will host meetings of various W3C/WAI working groups in European Union member states in order to ensure opportunities to participate in face-to-face meetings.

The fourth workpackage consists of a variety of activities which will promote implementation of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) by Web site creators in European Union member states. Deliverables under this workpackage will include assembling electronic lists of contacts in the Web design field; disseminating W3C/WAI literature at Web design conferences and through e-mail lists; conducting presentations on WCAG in different European Union member states; establishing a coordinated network for Web site review; conducting Web site reviews; establishing a gallery of accessible Web sites; and localizing on-line and hard-copy literature supporting implementation of WCAG.

The fifth workpackage consists of a variety of deliverables promoting implementation of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Gudielines (ATAG) in European authoring tools and in other authoring tools that are localized for the marketplace in European Union member states. Deliverables under this workpackage will include assembling electronic contacts among authoring tool product managers and localization team managers; pushing regular information about supporting resources for ATAG; tracking progress and gaps in implementions of ATAG in authoring tools; engaging in dialog with developers to encourage ATAG implementation; and providing technical assistance as required to developers.

The focus in the fifth workpackage on implementation of ATAG represents a more advanced approach to improving tools work than what was proposed in the original project proposal. As ATAG became a final W3C Recommendation on February 3, 2000, this resource is now ready for promotion, and implementation of ATAG in commercial-grade, mainstream authoring tools used in European Union member states should have a far greater impact than the original utility-development activities proposed. Should it not prove feasible to directly influence authoring tool developers as described as the primary objective of WP05, the fifth workpackage will revert to the tool-development deliverable originally planned, and included under WP05 as a provisional deliverable.

Milestones and expected results

Activities during the first four months will establish subcontractors and additional staffing as appropriate and with permission of the European Commission, further refine management communication, and assemble contact lists for W3C/WAI European outreach in general, and for WCAG and ATAG outreach specifically. This will result in a solid framework for project activities and extensive initial contact lists.

Activities from month four to month twelve will include additional localization and on-going dissemination of Quick Tips for accessible Web sites, and localization and dissemination of the W3C/WAI Flyer; also localization of on-line resources including "Getting Started: Making a Web Site Accessible"; establishment of review teams; reviews of 50 Web sites; dissemination of WCAG and ATAG information through electronic mailing lists; and presentations and technical assistance as described in workpackages four and five. These activities will result in broader awareness of W3C/WAI resources among Web designers, authoring tool developers, and the disability, access research, industry and government communities interested in Web accessibility, and increased participation of individuals and organizations from European Union member states in W3C/WAI activities.

Month twelve will include a brief mid-course assessment of impact and project evaluation, an updated timeline of project activities, and the first annual report. This will result in mid-course corrections as needed.

Months thirteen through twenty-four will include localization of additional materials including Curriculum for WCAG and Techniques for WCAG; on-going dissemination of hard-copy localized materials including the Quick Tips and Flyer; additional presentations, technical assistance, and on-going electronic dissemination of WCAG and ATAG information through electronic mailing lists. These activities will result in increased implementation of W3C/WAI resources among Web designers, and authoring tool developers, and increased participation of individuals and organizations from European Union member states in W3C/WAI activities.

Month twenty-four will include a final assessment of impact and project evaluation, and the final project report.

2. Project objectives

The two most important objectives of WAI-DA are to increase implementation of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) on Web sites in European Union member states (WP04), so that people with disabilities can more readily use these sites; and increasing implementation of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) used in European Union member states (WP05), so that Web designers can more easily produce Web sites that implement WCAG. Both WCAG and ATAG have been developed through an consensus-based process including European participation. WCAG explains what an accessible Web site is; ATAG explains to developers of the software used to build Web sites how to make that software support production of accessible sites.

Increasing implementation of WCAG on Web sites in European Union member states can be accomplished through a number of sub-objectives, including: increasing awareness among European Web designers and content providers of the need for Web accessibility and the resources available to make accessible Web sites; delivering presentations and workshops in European Union member states on implementation of WCAG; increasing availability and variety of hard-copy WAI promotional materials localized to Europe; increasing availability and variety of on-line WAI resources localized to Europe and supporting implementation of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines; ensuring that policy-makers on issues of information technology accessibility are informed of W3C Recommendations and resources regarding Web accessibility; and providing review and feedback regarding key public and private-sector Web sites in Europe.

Increasing implementation of ATAG in authoring tools used in European Union member states can be addressed through several sub-objectives, including ensuring that developers of authoring tools used in Europe receive frequent and effective information on implementation support resources for the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines; establishing communication with authoring tool developers about documented gaps and lags in implementation of accessibility improvements in authoring tools used in Europe, in so far as those gaps and lags affect priorities of accessibility features needed to make sites accessible; providing training and technical assistance to developers of authoring tools used in Europe to facilitate their implementation of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines; developing an open source module or modules that can support improved accessibility support in authoring tools used in Europe; and promoting development of localized evaluation/validation tools for accessibility of Web sites.

In order to accomplish the objectives of implementing WCAG and ATAG, as well as to influence W3C/WAI work as a whole towards greater European involvement and activity, WAI-DA also includes sub-objectives of increasing participation in W3C/WAI work of individuals and organizations from European Union member states: recruiting more European participation into WAI working groups; providing more visibility to European participation and resources on WAI site; and holding more WAI meetings in European Union member states.

Management objectives include identifying and establishing effective subcontractors and/or staffing, after subcontractors are agreed upon by the European Commission; establishing and maintaining effective communication with subcontractors and/or staff including processing of subcontractor invoices; establishing and maintaining deliverables schedule or communicate changed circumstances as needed; providing quarterly and annual reports to Project Officer; providing information on WAI-DA project as requested by Project Coordinator for EC publications; assessing project progress and remaining needs in area & recommend future actions; delivering project presentations to Commission.

Assessment and evaluation activities include assess the impact of the project and effectiveness of project management half-way through the project; and assessing impact and evaluating effectiveness of project management at the end of the project.

4. Contribution to programme/key action objectives

The IST Programme talks about a "user-friendly information society." This proposal fits the design-for-all (V.1.3 CPA3) objective for an inclusive information society -- an information society that is friendly to all users.

Worldwide, there are more than 750 million people with disabilities, 50 million of whom are in Europe. A significant percentage of that population is affected by the emergence of the Web, directly or indirectly. The Web is already playing key roles in education, employment, government services, recreation. But for people with disabilities, there are many barriers on the Web. These barriers put the Web in danger of disenfranchising people with disabilities in this emerging infrastructure. Our project aims at removing barriers for all kinds of disabilities. For example:

Furthermore, even those without disabilities benefit from changes motivated by the needs of people with disabilities. When using their mobile phone, for instance, people need to access information on the Web using a voice-based interface similar to that used by someone who is blind or has a physical disability. WAI-DA promotion of WCAG on mainstream Web sites and ATAG in authoring tools used in European Union member states will promote best practices design and enhance usability for all. WCAG and ATAG are both W3C Recommendations that have been endorsed by the international membership of W3C as guidelines that enhance the universality of the Web.

5. Relations to Programme

This accompanying measure supports the overall Design-for-all (V.1.3 CPA3) cross-programme theme. It is not attached to a specific action of the IST Programme. WAI-DA is a follow-on action to the Fourth Framework WAI-DE support measure funded by Telematics for Disabled and Elderly, and further builds European involvement in W3C as a follow-on to the Fourth Framework W3C-LA project funded by ESPRIT. The WAI-DA goals of increasing European participation and promoting WCAG and ATAG implementation are by nature cross-programme; they apply to all key actions in the programme as well as to other IST-funded Web activities in European Union member states.

As the "Strategy and Architecture" section of the IST Cross-Programme description states, much of the value of IST stems from the breadth of research subjects brought together as one thematic programme, and the potential for cross-fertilization and synergies that such integration creates. WAI-DA is consistent with this theme. The Web is global by nature, and actors in the field of Web accessibility come not only from across European Union member states but worldwide. WAI-DA, administered by INRIA, which is one of the three international host sites for W3C, is able to leverage the worldwide expertise of W3C, and enhance cooperation between European and non-European organizations involved in Web accessibility to help further the objectives of the IST Programme.

6. Community added value and contribution to EU policies

WAI-DA addresses problems of integration of people with disabilities throughout European Union member states into the information society. WAI-DA uses a pan-EU approach since Web accessibility barriers are pan-European, and because coordinated efforts across European Union member states are needed to achieve a full solution.

Specifically, WAI-DA will improve the accessibility of Web-based information in European Union member states for people with disabilities, contributing to the usability of information available to all Europeans. This addresses the policy that all persons in European Union member states have equal access to online information regardless of disability. WAI-DA will therefore contribute directly to the objectives of the e-Europe Initiative.

In addition, by virtue of its close coordination with the W3C, WAI-DA fosters the convergence and interoperability of Web technologies at a global level, which is a key objective of European Union.

Given the reliance in any one European Union member state on Web-based information in neighboring countries, a country-by-country approach would be nowhere near as effective as a pan-European approach. Localization of outreach networks and localization of hard-copy and online materials will contribute to the customization required to support implementation within any given country; however WAI-DA's strategies are generalizable over all European Union member states.

7. Contribution to Community social objectives

WAI-DA supports economic progress by people with disability by helping to remove barriers that would otherwise prevent people with disabilities from fully participating in the information society. WAI-DA thereby helps fulfill the direction laid out in the Treaty of Amsterdam, Article (6a), by supporting non-discrimination with regard to information technologies.

Article (6a) of the Treaty of Amsterdam states:

Without prejudice to the other provisions of this Treaty and within the limits of the powers conferred by it upon the Community, the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament, may take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

Declaration 22, regarding persons with a disability, states:

The Conference agrees that, in drawing up measures under Article 100a of the Treaty establishing the European Community, the institutions of the Community shall take account of the needs of persons with a disability.

In terms of social impact, helping to provide access to the Web for an entire portion of the population helps ensure access to educational material on the Web; to employment opportunities posted on the Web; to workplace communication through Web-based intranets; and to government services that help prepare the way for educational and employment opportunity.

A growing number of European Union member states are developing policies requiring accessibility of certain kinds of Web sites within their countries. These include Denmark, France, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. There are also efforts to establish a pan-European approach requiring accessibility of certain kinds of Web sites. WAI-DA will help develop preparedness on the part of the Web industry in European Union member states to meet these social requirements as they evolve.

8. Economic development and S&T prospects

Promoting implementation of WCAG will improve the technical quality of Web sites in European Union member states. Currently many Web sites in Europe, as in the rest of the world, contain markup (code) that is invalid, inaccessible, and/or only usable by certain browsers. These Web sites inadvertently create barriers for some of the audiences they seek to attract. Promoting implementation of WCAG not only improves access to these sites for people with disabilities, but also improves the interoperability and universality of the Web sites in general, e.g. by promoting use of standard HTML, by promoting separation of structure and content from presentation, by promoting use of style sheets which enhance the efficiency of serving and maintaining Web sites, and by the numerous other carry-over benefits of designing for acessibility.

Increased accessibility of European Web sites will also help to ensure the inclusion of this market sector -- people with disabilities -- among customers of electronic commerce, so that they are among the revenue-generating market sectors that European industry is able to reach.

A further economic impact of WAI-DA activities is to ensure that the European Web industry is able to compete internationally when encountering requirements for accessibility of Web sites and Web authoring tools in markets where these requirements are already developed, such as Australia, Canada, and the United States.

To look at the technological side more closely, by virtue of the separation of structure and content from presentation (style), the Web designer and content provider can pursue their goals separately: change text without touching the style (colors, fonts, positioning, etc.) or alternatively, change the style without changing the content, and share one style for multiple pages of content, resulting in lower maintenance costs when upgrading site appearance. There is therefore an economic advantage both to the designer and to the user with a disability. For images, video, audio clip, or programs (such as a Java applet being downloaded by users) WCAG recommends providing alternative description. For multi-media formats such as video and audio, there need to be accessibility hooks -- some way of communicating the availability of information about accessibility to a user who might be using speech output, braille output, or who might be searching for an available caption for streaming audio. Each of these accesibility solutions carries benefits for other users -- for someone browsing in a noisy environment where the audio cannot be heard but a caption can be read; for someone wanting to search for words in the audio stream, who can now do this through searching on text captions; for someone who cannot display a video stream on their mobile phone but who can easily access a streaming text description of the video.

WAI-DA activities would increase awareness of these approaches to Web design; it would increase the localized resources available to support implementation of these approaches; and it would increase the availability of commercial-grade software that would partially automate the use of these approaches when producing Web sites.

Appendix A: Description of Partner

Description of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C):

The World Wide Web Consortium was created in October 1994 to lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability. W3C has more than 400 Member organizations from around the world and has earned international recognition for its contributions to the growth of the Web. W3C is financed primary by its Members and, to a lesser extent, by public funds. W3C Membership is available to all organizations.

W3C is hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Laboratory for Computer Science [MIT/LCS] in the United States; the Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique [INRIA] in Europe; and the Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus in Japan. Many of the more than fifty researchers and engineers that make up the W3C Team work at these host locations.

By promoting interoperability and encouraging an open forum for discussion, W3C commits to leading the technical evolution of the Web. In just over five years, W3C has developed more than 20 technical specifications for the Web's infrastructure. However, the Web is still young and there is still a lot of work to do, especially as computers, telecommunications, and multimedia technologies converge. To meet the growing expectations of users and the increasing power of machines, W3C is already laying the foundations for the next generation of the Web. W3C's technologies will help make the Web a robust, scalable, and adaptive infrastructure for a world of information.

Since 1997 W3C has hosted the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), an international project with the goal of increasing accessibility of the Web for people with disabilities. WAI receives funding from several national governments, including the U.S. Government, the Canadian Government, and previous funding from the European Commission, and funding from industry including IBM/Lotus, Microsoft, and Bell Atlantic. WAI's activities including ensuring that the technologies of the Web support accessibility, developing guidelines for Web accessibility, developing tools to facilitate Web accessibility, conducting education and outreach, and coordinating with research projects that can affect future Web accessibility.