Design Plan for Silver

From Silver


This option for the design of Silver was selected by a rough consensus of the working group at TPAC. It is oriented toward long-term flexibility to design Silver and write the requirements, with some additions from the Design Driven process.

The goal of the Silver project is to provide a major revision to the WCAG standard, and as part of the update to incorporate requirements for user agents and authoring tools as needed. The process of designing Silver defined on this page describes the steps that the WCAG Working Group will take to pursue the research, experimentation, and initial drafts of the updated standard.

Communication paths

In order to have a more flexible result, we'll need to incorporate a more diverse set of perspectives throughout the process. Whenever we communicate out, send surveys, ask for input, and hold polls, we will need to send these out via more diverse sets of channels (mailing lists, organizations, meetups, what have you) in order to include those who have valuable perspectives but may not have the time or resources to more directly take part in the development of Silver.

Phase 1: Discovery

Understand needs, identify opportunities


  • Learn from people who use WCAG currently
    • As a design spec
    • As a technical standard
    • To measure compliance
    • To document compliance
    • To support laws and regulations
    • To teach accessibility
  • Learn from people impacted directly or indirectly by WCAG currently
    • Web visitors
    • Web/mobile application users
    • Web/mobile content creators
    • Web/mobile application creators
    • IT Implementors/Support
    • People who create adaptations of WCAG
    • Others?

User Research

The methods in this section will emphasize gathering data and insights into user needs of the people who use WCAG, and the people impacted by WCAG.

Stakeholder Map

A broad group of stakeholders will be defined for this process. This list will be dynamic, being updated as new interests are uncovered. In order to achieve greater flexibility in Silver, we'll need to aggressively enlist from a variety of areas to ensure that we have a more diverse set of stakeholders.

These stakeholders will include:

  • Members of a more diverse set of disability organizations
  • Designers who create the visuals and interactions of sites and applications
  • Developers who have a closer perspective on the active technical application of Silver
  • Working Group members for the perspective on maintenance work for Silver
  • Accessibility professionals for the perspective of using Silver as a point of reference
  • ...and more.


Public surveys will be heavily used in the Discovery phase. We will engage professional support in creating valid surveys. The purpose of the survey is to gather a breadth of perspective and not the popularity of perspective. For example, the deaf-blind community is very small, but their need for digital access to information is particularly acute.

There will be multiple surveys addressed to specific groups -- a survey for developers will be different from a survey addressed toward people with disabilities.

Stakeholder interviews

Stakeholder interviews are valuable for gathering anecdotal data from people with valuable perspective, but who do not have the ability or inclination to participate in Silver in a more active way. These interviews will be phone interviews with followup emails as the project progresses. These key stakeholder advisors will be a resource throughout the development of Silver.

Self reporting

Self reporting in this option will involve asking people who use WCAG regularly to keep a diary of their use of WCAG over a two week period with some structured questions, but mostly will be used to gather insight and opinion on their use of WCAG. These diaries will be anonymously assembled into a report of insights. This information will be used primarily to form insights on how to make the structure of Silver more useful to the regular users.

Checkpoint with WCAG WG

WCAG WG will approve that the research is covering what it needs to, and give feedback on any gaps.

Background Research

The section includes other forms of research in addition user needs research.

Secondary Research from other Organizations

There are other working groups within W3C and other standards organizations who have developed techniques for faster progress, or have cautionary tales of techniques that did not work. The Silver subgroup team will approach other organizations for advice and techniques for greater flexibility in standards development and maintenance. The results of this inquiry will be written into a public report where some data may be anonymized as requested by the advising organization. The results will be documented in a way that feeds into the Analysis phase, probably by creating (at least) one persona that is a person writing Silver standards. This persona would still relevant for updating and maintaining Silver.

WCAG Analysis

Systematic examination of WCAG and its component parts, including the guidelines and the process of creating/maintaining WCAG, in order to learn about the technical, cultural, and practical aspects of WCAG through inventory and analysis.

Analysis of WCAG Adaptations

Much can be learned from all the organizations that use WCAG, but find it doesn't meet their needs, and have made their own adaptation of WCAG. Most of that material is public and can be studied with an eye toward common themes of what is needed. The results will be documented in a way that feeds into the Analysis phase, probably by creating (at least) one persona that is a person writing Silver standards. This persona would still relevant for updating and maintaining Silver.

Literature/Article Review

Systematic examination of articles about WCAG can glean much about the technical, cultural, and practical aspects of WCAG. Done through literature/article reviews and analysis

Checkpoint with WCAG WG

WCAG WG will approve that the research is covering what it needs to, and give feedback on any gaps.

Phase 2: Interpretation

Transform data into insights


  • Synthesize data from discovery phase into actionable insights, considerations, recommendations, etc.
  • Communicate insights
    • Via reports, blog articles, presentations


Research needs to be assembled in a logical way to assist the formation of useful conclusions that can be used throughout the Silver development process.


Personas are a widely accepted method of usability research where the user needs data from a multitude of sources are anonymously aggregated into a composite description of a person who uses WCAG. Personas will be useful throughout Silver development, as a way to go back and check that the project is on track and that user needs are being addressed and met. Personas may take time to develop, but they will speed decision-making further in the process of Silver development. Persona development will focus on the aspects of the persona that are relevant to Silver. More attention will be paid in developing the user story of that persona (see next section) than in fleshing out details of the person that are not relevant to Silver. Creatie (at least) one persona that is a person writing Silver standards based on the secondary research. This persona would still relevant for updating and maintaining Silver.

Case Studies

Case studies are articles that capture details about how people use WCAG, highlighting key issues and/or strengths uncovered in the research. These will be used in order to ensure that Silver addresses issues noted, and does not lose the strengths of WCAG.

User Stories

User stories are short stories of the persona in action using Silver. These will be used for review purposes throughout Silver development as a quick technique for making sure that the user needs are being addressed and keeping the project focused on the people we are serving.

Checkpoint with WCAG WG

WCAG WG will approve and give provide feedback on Personas, Case Studies, and User Stories


The subgroup will use design research techniques (inventory and grouping) in a face to face meeting (F2F) to identify:

  • key themes and insights
  • recommendation of the themes and insights to pursue
  • related observations
  • the result of this F2F will be a report detailed in the next section


The result of the F2F meeting of the subgroup will be :

  • Report of conclusions of the research
  • Key themes, insights, and any diagrams useful to illustrate the insights

Checkpoint with WCAG WG

This will be a result of the analysis that will inform the next phase. This will provide another opportunity for the WCAG WG to provide feedback and insight. There will be many insights from this analysis, which we will have to prioritize. The WCAG WG will approve the priority of the insights.

Phase 3: Ideation

Build insights and opportunities into possibilities


  • Identify viable options for structure and substance of Silver
  • Choose a subset of viable options to use for experimentation

Concept Generation

The list of key themes, insights, and such generated in the Interpretation phase will be disseminated broadly in a preparation for online and/or hybrid face-to-face/online workshops, in addition to a set of surveys and questionnaires distributed as structured activity via specific communication paths (ex: IG mailing list, WebAIM mailing list). This will encourage a broader set of contributors to create and assess a larger set of viable options to use for experimentation.


From this broader set of options, the Subgroup will propose a smaller set for focused prototyping and experimentation, optionally subject to confirmation by the greater Working Group via a vote.

Phase 4: Experimentation

Make possibilities tangible and testable and choose an approach


The subgroup will create prototypes based on the direction from the Ideation phase, covering:

  • Content in and scope of Silver
  • Structure of Silver
  • Maintenance of Silver over time (both the process of doing so and the process of using and applying those updates)

The best prototypes (as agreed by the Workshop Participants or the Silver Subgroup) will be fleshed out more for user research (next section) and broad dissemination.

User Research

User Journeys

The prototypes developed will be compared to the User Journeys developed in the Interpretation Phase (Phase 2) by the members of the sub-group. The subgroup will test the prototypes by using user journeys created from the user stories and personas from the Interpretation phase, with some A/B/C testing of options as warranted, and publish their findings for public discussion.

Desirability Testing

The prototypes will be publicly available for people (especially Stakeholders) to experiment and evaluate and comment. In addition, there will be a broadly advertised survey of the prototypes where respondents can compare (higher, lower) the different prototypes, vote and comment. As much as possible, the prototypes should be discussed at various accessibility meetups, conferences, and email lists. This is a point where all input is welcome, but it will only be logged in aggregate, and it does not follow W3C comment process, because this is still a "pre-Requirements" phase.


If needed, a new prototype combining different aspects of the public discussion can be created, or a popular prototype can be fleshed out.


At this point, it should be clear what the most desirable prototypes are. Based on the Objectives, the requirements of the User Journeys, and the data obtained during the Desireability Testing, the Silver Subgroup will assemble their recommendation to the WCAG WG with supporting data. This will take the form of a Silver Requirements document and the prototype(s) selected.

Checkpoint with WCAG WG

The WCAG WG will approve the Requirements document and final prototype.

Phase 5: Production and Evolution

Create Silver and adapt over time

This phase of the process differs a bit in the approach and documentation from the other processes, as it documents the production and evolution phase as continuous and ongoing, with milestones established to mark a given iteration of Silver as the current and stable Guideline.


The final prototype and the recommendations of the W3C Workshop report will give a path forward for the resources needed for going into development of the Silver First Public Working Draft (FPWD). Some possibilities include:

  • Asking W3C members to contribute an employee's fulltime effort as a W3C fellow dedicated to Silver
  • Hiring a full-time editor, similar to what was done for HTML5
  • Forming an official Silver Task Force (if that has not already been done)
  • Scheduling a multi-day Task Force F2F meeting specifically for drafting the FPWD.
  • Fellow/hiring a full-time project manager for Silver


  • W3C Re-Charter as needed
  • Setting granular specific milestones (more granular than the W3C Charter)
  • Setting decision-making policy that discourages extended discussion, but protects the voice of minorities -- especially PwDs.


Developing Silver itself will follow the Requirements document. The work should be done largely via crowd-sourcing as guided by and also contributed to from a smaller Task Force with regular reporting to the WCAG WG as a whole. The smaller Task Force will maintain an issue repository and apply suggested changes and additions following the process developed in the Experimentation phase.

Checkpoint with WCAG WG

Since Silver development will initially be concurrent with WCAG 2.x development, the main focus of WCAG WG (or AGWG, as it may be known by then) will be the management of the process rather than specific proposal development. Controversial issues should be referred to the AGWG as a whole. The project will transition to regular time-based checkins with WCAG WG.

Maintenance and Evolution

Maintenance of Silver will be a part of the prototype and requirements. As soon as the FPWD is complete, work should begin on the next revision with the items that are declared out of scope for the FPWD. This option of Silver will regard work and improvements as ongoing, establishing regular and more frequent (and thus smaller) milestones for use as full Guidelines.

Checkpoint with WCAG WG

Regular checkin with WCAG WG. This may change significantly when we know more about the model that we will be using.


There will be time based check-ins with the WCAG WG throughout the process, so we can make adjustments as needed.

The subgroup will:

  1. Propose options of plans to update the WCAG WG; choose option
    • Done: Oct 31, 2016
  2. Identify Stakeholders
    • Who: Core group
    • Start: Nov 1, 2016
    • End: Dec 31, 2016
  3. Design research studies and create timelines to perform research
    • Who: Core group, external experts
    • Start: Jan 1, 2017
    • End: Apr 30, 2017
  4. Perform research
    • Who: Core group, external experts
    • Start: Feb 1, 2017
    • End: Aug 30, 2017
  5. Interpret, analyze, and report on research findings
    • Who: Core group, external experts
    • Start: Apr 1, 2017
    • End: Dec 31, 2017
  6. Create and refine prototypes; choose option
    • Who: Core group, external experts
    • Start: Jan 1, 2018
    • W3C Workshop (in conjunction with CSUN 2018?)
    • End: Mar 31, 2018
  7. Write Requirements document
    • Who: Core group
    • Start: Apr 1, 2018
    • Send Requirements to WCAG WG 18 May 2018
    • End (WCAG approval of Requirements): Jun 30, 2018
  8. Write editor’s draft for FPWD
    • Who: Core group
    • Start: Jul 1, 2018
    • Draft of FPWD for WCAG WG discussion at TPAC 2018
    • End: To be determined approval of Requirements document