W3C Web Accessibility Initiative Research and Development Interest Group

Call for Position Papers:
Teleconference on Making Collaboration Technologies Accessible for Persons with Disabilities

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative Research and Development Interest Group announces a call for the first in a series of teleconferences focusing on research issues in the area of accessibility and web-related technologies.


The web is bringing together individuals and enabling them to collaborate in new and innovative ways. Today, diverse communities of people can come together in virtual spaces for meetings and working sessions. This is particularly important as travel to face to face meetings can be difficult for budgetary or security reasons.

Examples of such communities include standards development, engineering, knowledge management, software/content development, accessibility, scientific research, government/international rules and regulations, and education. Diverse, international groups currently use a variety of tools, such as instant messaging, IRC, shared desktops, and teleconferencing for real time interaction, as well as email, mailing lists, weblogs and proprietary format documents for asynchronous interaction.

Collaboration, for example, on a design specification, is typically accomplished by using several of the aforementioned technologies, with little real integration between the different tools. Participants in the collaboration may not all have equal access in the process, for reasons of disability, bandwidth, firewalls, language, etc.

Promising research is underway around the world, exploring innovative technologies and user interfaces for collaboration.

We are seeking position papers from researchers and practitioners (academia, industry, government, consulting) on state of the art work in document collaboration. In particular, we are looking for research which can address requirements expressed in the following use cases.

Scenario: An international Open Source Software Project consists of software developers from the US, Japan, Sweden, Thailand, Malaysia, China, and India. Several developers have disabilities, including visual impairments, deafness, mobility impairment, and deaf blind. The project is in its planning stage and developers need to meet virtually to design and create the software specification. Regular face to face meetings are not possible.
The goal is the shared development of a web-based specification document, with flow charts, diagrams, and screen layouts. Weekly teleconferences involve collaborative review and editing of the specification and its elements. Individuals must be able create and read annotations in a modality appropriate to their needs. For example, graphical annotations or notes (a circled word and added note), need to be visible to all participants.

Additional use cases can be found at the RDIG web site.

Your position paper should describe your research and indicate whether it can address some aspect of the scenarios presented in the use cases above, addresses other aspects of collaboration, or submit your own use case. If you are uncertain as to how your work can meet specific use case requirements, it is acceptable to pose this as a question in your position paper.

Who should participate

Researchers and practitioners active in any aspect of Collaboration Technologies, Human Computer Interaction, Assistive Technologies, Disability Studies, Web Accessibility, or related fields.

Goals of the Teleconference

Participants in this conference can expect to gain an improved, synergistic understanding of research being done in accessible collaboration technologies for the internet and to develop contacts with others performing such research.

The mission of the Research and Development Interest Group (RDIG) is to increase the number of Web-related researchers who incorporate accessibility into their research design, and to identify projects researching Web accessibility, and suggest techniques that may contribute to new projects. The desired outcome of more research in Web accessibility and awareness of accessibility in mainstream Web-related research should decrease the number of potential barriers in future Web-related technologies.

Proceedings of the Teleconference will be web-published by the Research and Development Interest Group.

Event Information

Tentative date for the first event is Monday, 14 April, 2003. The format of the event is a teleconference, augmented by web-based presentation material, and IRC.

A position paper is not required for participation in the teleconference. Registration will be required for participation. Registration information and further event details will be announced by March 14, 2003. Consult the RDIG home page for the latest information.

The format of the teleconference will consist of 30-45 minutes for introductions and presentations, and 45-60 minutes for discussion. Questions for discussion may be submitted in advance by email to the chair. Follow on discussion by the presenters and participants is encouraged.

Submission Information

Position papers are due by 28 March 2003 and should be sent to the chair (hakkinen@dinf.ne.jp) and W3C staff contact (wendy@w3.org). The papers should be short (limited to one page) and be submitted in HTML or plain text format. Papers in other formats will be returned.

All relevant position papers submitted will be published on the RDIG web site. The RDIG Planning Group will invite the authors of select position papers to make a short presentation at the event to foster discussion. Authors of papers not selected for presentation are invited to contribute to the discussion portion of the teleconference.

The invited presentations are to be approximately 15 minutes in length and should include slides or other presentation materials. Authors are also required to make the slides of their presentation available on the event Web site.

Position papers will be published on the public Web pages for the event and must be available for public dissemination. Submitting a position paper comprises a default recognition of these terms for publication.

Information shared in RDIG meetings and proceedings is publicly visible. W3C reminds presenters and participants to disclose, where known, the IPR status of information that they share in RDIG meetings and materials, in accordance with Section 2.2, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy, of the W3C Process Document. Please also refer to the "Intellectual Property Rights" section of the RDIG Charter.