Welcome to Silver

From Silver

This document is designed for newcomers to the Silver project, and for members of the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (“AGWG”) who wish to become more familiar or more involved in the Silver project.

What we have learned already

Brief History

Silver grew out of the early Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (“WCAG 2.1”) project, because a small group of people wanted to work on the next major evolution of accessibility guidance using a User Experience model. This meant researching what users needed from accessibility guidance and potentially recommending a major restructuring for WCAG 3.0. This work is first defining the structure and framework of the guidelines and then second, using that information to help create the content.

The Silver Task Force was authorized by the World Wide Web Consortium (“W3C”) Accessibility Guideline Working Group in November of 2016 to do the advance work for a major revision that would be the successor to WCAG 2. Because AGWG expects that the advice will go beyond Web Content, it needs a new name. Silver is the temporary project name. The long term name is W3C Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 3.0.

Early in the research process, the W3C Silver Community Group was formed to allow more public participation in the project. The Silver Task Force agreed to work together with the SIlver Community Group on an equal footing to develop Silver. The two groups share all resources, including email lists, conference calls, and shared development space.

Early project work

The Silver group created a list of stakeholders, wrote research questions, partnered with researchers, and conducted their own research for 16 months from late 2016 to early 2018. They then analysed the research results to create problem statements and opportunities. They held a Design Sprint with 27 industry leaders led using agile techniques in March 2018, which started creating solutions to the problems and opportunities identified by the research.

Research Results

The Summary of Silver Research is a Google slide deck that presents the results and links to the papers that are publicly available. Not all the research has been moved to public platforms. We could use some help with this! You need basic HTML skills and a lot of copy/paste.

This phase of Silver research is focused on structural issues, and not the content of Silver. The results are grouped in 3 areas:


  • Silver should be written in plain language
  • Silver should be easy for beginners in accessibility to get started
  • Silver should have easy-to-find information
  • Silver should be easy to understand for non-technical people


  • More and different needs of people with disabilities should be included in Silver. This means Silver needs a more flexible way of measuring whether the guidance has been followed.
  • Silver should provide tests with consistent results
  • Silver should allow content, user agents, and assistive technology to work well together without putting all the responsibility for accessibility on the content author.
  • Silver should have more flexible conformance that can support evolving technology and the different usage and needs of existing technology: A pizza shop website should have a difference conformance model than a giant social media site.


  • The procedures followed by the W3C working group should encourage innovation and inclusion, especially of people with disabilities.
  • Silver should be able to be updated often and allow more accessibility experts to contribute
  • Silver should have a more nimble governance that will allow faster response to changing technologies and changing needs of people with disabilities.

What you should expect

The Silver group is not the traditional commitment to many years of meetings. The flexible nature of the community group allows people to participate when the group is working on something they are interested in. Most of the work happens outside of meetings, with meetings primarily being used to coordinate sub-projects and anticipate the needs of future sub-projects. The group meets by teleconference twice weekly for one hour each. Any member of the task force or community group can attend any teleconference. The Silver group uses Internet Relay Chat (“IRC”) to take minutes of the meetings and exchange links.

The Silver group has done most of their work in publicly visible Google drive space, because it met the accessibility needs of many of the active members. Now that the work is transitioning from research to developing prototypes, the work is moving to Github, so that the group can take advantage of W3C automated publication tools. This has caused some accessibility problems for the members, and the group is trying to resolve this. Therefore, the work is currently spread over several platforms, based on what works for the individuals working on the project.

The Silver wiki is the major hub for locating documents and participating in Silver. The main page wiki page lists all news, project milestones, major reports, participation, and conference call information.

Conference Calls

You don't need to attend conference calls, they are optional. The conference calls are mostly used to coordinate different groups and to discuss issues that come up. If you wish to attend a call, the information is on the main page of the wiki in the Meetings section. The Silver group uses Internet Relay Chat (“IRC”) to take minutes of the meetings and exchange links. We send our meeting minutes to the email list. All the emails to the list are in the Silver list archive at W3C which you can search.

Face to Face Meetings

We also meet once or twice a year face to face (F2F), but those meetings have been replaced with virtual meetings during the pandemic. The upcoming F2F meetings are listed in the Face to Face Meetings section of the wiki main page.


Since the beginning of the Silver project, we have had a goal of increasing participation for people with disabilities. We encourage participants to work in the way that is best for them. We convert documents to different formats to support the requests of group members. Please email Jeanne and Shawn privately to request accommodations.

What we are currently working on

Updated January 2021

  • We have published a First Public Working Draft that could become a W3C standard. It is structured to meet W3C formatting requirements for a standard. It is our intention to also produce a more usable version that can be filtered and searched. We will be working on that in the future, probably the summer of 2021.
  • We have a new permanent name, W3C Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 3.0.
  • We are working on proposals for the conformance section of Silver.
  • We are developing a migration plan for the WCAG 2.1 content. We are following the prototype developed for developing content: identify the user need, write the tests, write the Method, then write the Guideline.
  • We are migrating a sample of current WCAG 2.1 success criteria to Silver to test our process. The Subgroups are on on the home page of the wiki. The success criteria we are currently working on are:
    • Headings (simple and used for testing prototypes)
    • Visual Contrast (it's an example of new research and how to merge WCAG levels)
    • Alternative Text (classic and complex)
    • Audio description (and captioning in emerging technologies)
    • Clear Language (a new success criteria to demonstrate the new approach to testing that allows more disability guidance to be included)
    • Errors (in early development)

Reading list

Here are links to the major Silver deliverables from earlier and current stages of the project and a recommendation of how thoroughly you should read them to feel current with the Silver work.

  1. Major Milestones for Silver (skim) - A wiki page with a table overview of milestones, due dates, status, and links to deliverables or results.
  2. Silver Stakeholders (skim) - Google spreadsheet matrix of the job roles and their actions
  3. Silver Job Stories (skim) - Silver Community Group report that expands on the job roles and actions in a brief narrative for each job role.
  4. Silver Design Sprint Report (skim) - Silver Community Group report. Skim most of the sections, but read the Suggestions section for ideas for prototypes.
  5. Silver Requirements Draft (read) - These are the directions that Silver requires to achieve the results that have been identified from the research.
  6. Silver Prototypes (skim) - These are some of the ideas that have been submitted to Silver and refined by the group.
    • Plain Language: (skim) editors and plain language experts take the same 4 WCAG 2.0 success criteria and convert them to plain language.
    • Conformance: Conformance has a lot of moving parts that must work together. This prototype is a written description of the broad outline of how conformance could work in Silver.
    • Flavors of Silver (an architecture approach for general information and technology specific information)
  7. Editor's Draft for W3C Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 3.0 - this is a draft from April. There are many Github branches that reflect more current proposals. These change often and are linked on the home page of the wiki under Conformance.
  8. Essentials for Publishing is our agreement with the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AGWG) of what needs to included before publishing the First Public Working Draft.