W3C homepageWeb Accessibility initiative homepage

WAI: Strategies, guidelines, resources to make the Web accessible to people with disabilities

25 June 2012

WAI R&D Symposia » Mobile Home

Mobile Accessibility Online Symposium Home


Mobile devices are becoming increasingly important and are already the primary form of accessing the Web in many parts of the world. However, people with disabilities experience many difficulties when they access the Web with mobile devices. This symposium brought together researchers and practitioners to discuss these challenges and possible solutions, to help develop a roadmap for future research and development in the field. The online symposium was held on 25 June 2012.


The mobile world is rapidly evolving with increasingly sophisticated devices, platforms, APIs, applications, and web browsers. Also the complexity of the web content and applications provided via mobile devices has become increasingly sophisticated. At the same time, the many sensors and gauges deployed on mobile devices are being utilized to provide new interaction paradigms such as touch events and gestures.

While these developments provide vast opportunities, opportunities for people with disabilities they also entail accessibility challenges. In particular, it is not sufficiently clear how well existing standards such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG), Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA), Mobile Web Best Practice (MWBP), Mobile Web Application Best Practice (MWABP), Touch Events, and others address accessibility in the mobile context, despite some initial work on mapping between WCAG and MWBP.

There is a need to better understand these challenges and to develop a roadmap to guide further research and development activities.


The primary objective of this symposium is to gather, analyze, and discuss practical experience with measuring website accessibility. These may include approaches for measuring 'accessibility in terms of conformance' (metrics that reflect violations of conformance of web content with accessibility guidelines such as WCAG or derivatives such as Section 508) and 'accessibility in use' (metrics that reflect the impact that accessibility issues have on real users, regardless of guidelines). The papers resulting from this symposium will constitute the basis from which to further explore a research and development roadmap for website accessibility metrics.

We particularly welcome discussion of the relationship of these two approaches and how to potentially combine them, as well as a discussion of any of the following types of questions:

  • What sort of techniques can we explore to combine metrics that are computed automatically, semi-automatically (with input from humans), and manually (where the judgment is made by humans, even if with input from software)?
  • How can we build an infrastructure (such as IBM Social Accessibility) that allows experts to store accessibility information (metadata) for use with metrics that are computed during subsequent audits?
  • What metrics, or combination of metrics, can be used as predictors of accessibility?
  • How shall we characterize the quality of such predictors in terms of properties such as reliability, validity, sensitivity, adequacy and adaptability?
  • Which approaches can be embraced for validating, benchmarking, and comparing web accessibility metrics?
  • How should we tackle metrics in web applications with dynamic content?

Further open research questions and ideas have been identified and we welcome contributions related to any of these too.


The Mobile Accessibility symposium is organized by the W3C/WAI Research and Development Working Group (RDWG). Contact Shadi Abou-Zahra (W3C Staff Contact) with questions.

Symposium Chairs

Scientific Committee