W3C Personalization Roadmap: Ubiquitous Web Integration of AccessForAll 1.0

W3C Working Group Note 09 April 2009

This version:
Latest version:
Andy Heath, The Open University, UK
Rich Schwerdtfeger, IBM


This document describes an activity of integrating personalization with device context for the delivery of content materials and interface components that are customized to meet both individual personal needs and preferences and delivery context. It brings together the work of separate standards and specifications organizations and working groups, notably W3C Ubiquitous Web Applications working group, IMS Global Learning Consortium Accessibility Special Interest group, ISO/IEC JTC1 SC36 Information Technology for Learning, Education and Training: Human Diversity and Access For All working group and associated working groups in SC36. The document should be viewed as a roadmap for the work to be undertaken and includes description of the basis for the work, the organizational context, the likely technologies and a partially complete description of how the technologies fit together.

Status of this Document

This section describes the status of this document at the time of its publication. Other documents may supersede this document. A list of current W3C publications and the latest revision of this technical report can be found in the W3C technical reports index at http://www.w3.org/TR/.

Publication as a Working Group Note does not imply endorsement by the W3C Membership. This is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to cite this document as other than work in progress.

This document is a Working Draft by the Ubiquitous Web Applications Working Group.

As Web content becomes more complex a one-size-fits-all strategy for delivering accessible web solutions is inadequate. This document defines a roadmap for bringing personalization to the Web. It does so by molding the Access For All adaptive learning standards found in the IMS Global Learning Consortium and ISO SC36 to fit mainstream delivery context arbitration mechanisms. User personalization should be considered part of the delivery context of the device. This document is intended to serve as a guide for how the Working Group may integrate personalization information from other sources into the Working Group's ongoing work. It is likely to be updated as the work progresses.

It revises the timeline expected to accomplish the objectives set out in the Roadmap, following what is set out in the Ubiquitous Web Application Charter.

The Ubiquitous Web Application working group seeks feedback on the requirements, gap analysis, and plan set out in this document. In particular, the Working Group would like input about whether:

Please provide feedback on the Working Group's public mailing list, an archive of which is available at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-uwa/.

This document was produced by a group operating under the 5 February 2004 W3C Patent Policy. W3C maintains a public list of any patent disclosures made in connection with the deliverables of the group; that page also includes instructions for disclosing a patent. An individual who has actual knowledge of a patent which the individual believes contains Essential Claim(s) must disclose the information in accordance with section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy.


This section is informative.


Delivery of content that is useful to and accessible to all in whatever delivery context or environment they are in at the time is a complex business potentially involving many technologies conforming to a variety of standards. This picture is big enough that to date different specifications and standards bodies have worked on the separate parts of the problem separately and not always in a way that interoperates. Completely different and separate business and technology scenarios have evolved completely separately and non-interoperably - for example mobile device technologies and desktop software technologies or learning technologies and banking. To date integration across these different technology and business worlds has been only on a small scale with isolated use cases, sometimes confined to a single vendor's products.

At the same time accessibility of content and interface to all users has become a more visible and necessary requirement as governments around the world mandate that all content and systems should be accessible to all and as the business cases for that, including for example delivery to consumers having an ever-increasing age profile, come into focus. Furthermore, with the advent of more visually complex, browser-delivered, content it is becoming increasingly important to deliver content alternatives to meet user's needs. This mandates a more flexible, personalized web infrastructure that will respond to the needs of each user. This provides a defines a plan and strategy, with standards collaboration, to define a personalized accessible infrastructure for the Web.


In order that content and interface components can be personalized for a given user in a given context we need set of key components to allow content to be transformed either through transcoding or replacement by equivalent alternatives. The major required informational components are:

  • A functional personal needs and preferences description - what the user requires in machine readable form
  • A functional description of the immediate delivery context
  • Metadata describing properties of a resource in a form that can match (or not match) the personal needs and preferences of the user for that context.

In order to ease progress on implementation and provide a consistent interoperable scheme it is desirable that resource instances, devices, and aggregation systems support a common vocabulary for these descriptive pieces to deliver a solution that matches the user's needs. For example, overlap or contradiction in requirements between the three sets makes implementation of matching more difficult. It is also desirable that the form of the information match both in model concept and detail terms. That is, it will ease the path if the information across the three sets is modeled using a common conceptual representation.

The major delivery level components being considered are:

  • Open delivery transport layers: browser client-side storage to access the preferences in the browser and the use of Ajax to share preferences with the server component of the application.
  • Closed system personalization services for user preferences such as those provided by a profile repository stored on WebSphere Application Server.
  • Mashup offerings such as Lotus Mashups

Table of Contents

1 History
2 Gap Analysis
3 Existing work, organizations and work underway
4 Sample Use Cases
    4.1 Blind user prefers text equivalent
    4.2 Vision impaired user prefers large fonts
    4.3 Hearing impaired user requiring closed captioning with video
5 Roadmap Timeline


A Acknowledgments (Non-Normative)

1 History

This section is informative.

The IMS Global Learning Consortium produced the AccessForAll specifications with the intent of improving the accessibility of e-learning for users. AccessForAll provides two matching specifications: Accessibility Metadata (ACCMD) for description of the accessibility properties of a resource, such as a Learning Object, Education package or web page, and Accessibility Preference Descriptions described by the specification called the Accessibility Learner Information Package (ACCLIP). Using the vocabulary of these two specifications together allows a system to choose the correct resource or modified resource to best match the access needs of a learner.

The AccessForAll specifications were then further developed into an ISO standard ISO/IEC 24751-1:2008, 24751-2:2008, 24751-3:2008 - Individualized adaptability and accessibility in e-learning, education and training. Instead of ACCMD and ACCLIP instances this standard provides for a Digital Resource Description (DRD) and Personal Needs and Preferences statement (PNP) respectively.

The IMS Global Learning Accessibility working group is now developing version 2.0 of the AccessForAll specifications with the intent of harmonizing the changes made by ISO standardization, synchronizing terminology defined by the W3C Delivery Context Ontology, and delivering a new version of AccessForAll better aligned to meet the needs for mainstream adoption. To facilitate mainstream adoption of personalization the W3C Ubiquitous Web Applications Working Group intends to incorportate AccessForAll v2.0 user preferences into the W3C Delivery Context Ontology to add personalization to delivery context specifications for a device. Once here, all devices will have a standard vocabulary for specifiying how the user experience may be personalized as part of the overall device delivery context.

2 Gap Analysis

This section is informative.

User Preference VocabularyIMS GLC AccessForAll v2.0, ISO PNP aligned with device preferences from the W3C Delivery Context Ontology (DCO)
User Agent access to user preferencesAccess through local browser storage and shared with server-side application components via Ajax. Examples of Client Side Storage are:
Standard Ontology for Device PersonalizationIntegrate AccessForAll Preferences into the W3C Delivery Context Ontology
Proprietary user Preference Stores
Meta data implementation data data feedsAtom

3 Existing work, organizations and work underway

Here we identify a number of pieces of work that we plan to integrate identify some of the work that needs to take place and its possible form.

OrganizationComponentSourceStatusKind of contentOverlaps with or needs to match with or supplementsFormats or Bindings availablePlanned work
W3C UWAWGDelivery Context OntologyDCOW3C working draft 15th April 08ISO/IEC JTC1 SC36ontology
ISO/IEC JTC1 SC36Individualized Adaptability for eLearning, Education and Training (24751): Personal Needs and Preference Statement (PNP)ISOexpected published ISO standard September 08functional accessibility and personalisation preferences to match with ISO/IEC JTC1 SC36W3C UWAWGInformation model and Core and full ontology in draft
ISO/IEC JTC1 SC36Individualized Adaptability for eLearning, Education and Training (24751) : Digital Resource Description (DRD)ISOexpected published ISO standard September 08Metadata describing accessibility and personalisation properties of a resource to match with W3C Delivery Context Ontology.Metadata for relating resources and adaptationsMatch with W3C Delivery Context Ontology and ISO SC36 PNPInformation model

Core and full ontology in draft

ISO/IEC JTC1 SC36Metadata for Learning Resources work on Multimedia Elementinternal public document TBCwork in progressMetadata describing delivery resource propertiesSupplement SC36 DRD, Match with W3C Delivery Context Ontologyeditors draft information model
IMSAccessForAll 2.0Access for All Specificationswork in progress
  • Revisions and Merger of SC36 DRD and PNP
  • Merge with W3C Delivery Context Ontology
draft information model. Core and full profiles (ontologies) in consruction
European Unified Approach for Accessible Lifelong Learning project (EU4ALL)Implementation experience in an educational context with:
  • ISO SC36 PNP
  • ISO SC36 DRD
  • ISO SC36 Metadata for Learning Resources work on Multimedia Element


  • W3C UWAWG Delivery Context Ontology (DCO)
    • A formal model of the characteristics of the environment in which devices interact with the Web or other services.
  • ISO/IEC JTC1 SC36 Individualized Adaptability for eLearning, Education and Training (24751)
    • This is a published ISO Standard available (September 2008) [here]
      • Part 1: Framework

        This part describes how the parts relate together.

      • Part 2: Personal Needs and Preference Statement (PNP)

        Metadata describing, in a functional form, personal accesssibility requirements for an individual for a context.

      • Part 3: Digital Resource Description (DRD)

        Metadata describing in a functional form in a way that can be matched to a PNP the accessibility properties of a resource and of adaptations for a resource and a mechanism for association of adaptations and resources.

    • ISO/IEC JTC1 SC36 Metadata for Learning Resources: Proposed work on Multimedia Element

      This is work in progress that is specifying Metadata to be associated with content describing some precise delivery requirements, such as audio and video codecs, screeen size etc. It is envisaged that the editors of that work will want to keep it harmonized with this.

    • IMS Access For All 2.0

      This is work underway to update the ISO PNP and DRD.

    • The EU4ALL Project

      This is a major European project that is implementing personalization for accessibility based on the ISO PNP and DRD.

4 Sample Use Cases

This section provides some sample uses cases illustrating the need for personalization.

In each case it should become clear that user preferences must be part of the device delivery context.

4.1 Blind user prefers text equivalent

It is commonly accepted that it is very difficult to make a complex visualization, such as directions drawn on a map accessible to the blind. However, for people who are not blind these visualizations have been useful for many sighted users. Rather than try to make them accessible to a blind user it would be much easier to swap the map with a text alternative.

Here are two complex renderings of driving directions and the text equivalent:

4.2 Vision impaired user prefers large fonts

User's with low vision will often require large fonts. What an acceptable large font is is dependent on the device on which you are rendering it. For example, a 25 point font may be way to large for a cellular phone having a very small screen.

4.3 Hearing impaired user requiring closed captioning with video

Users who are deaf or hard of hearing may require that video be delivered with closed captioning turned on. This may be a simple function of turning that feature on on your local device but it may also require the user to request videos which are closed captioned in a specific language. In these cases a user would request the host system to match the user's request with a set of available alternatives. Again, how the video is delivered has dependencies on the network bandwidth and screen resolution.

5 Roadmap Timeline

Personalization Integration Timeline
Deliverable1st draft2nd draftLast CallendsCRPRREC2nd Ed.3rd Ed.
IMS Access For All ACCMD/ACCLIP V2.0 (Core/Full Profiles) March 31, 2009 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD
W3C Delivery Context Ontology with Personalization TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD

A Acknowledgments (Non-Normative)

This section is informative.

The editors wish to acknowledge the contributions of members of the UWA WG.

The editors wish to acknowledge the specific written contributions of: