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Accessible Way-Finding using Web Technologies Online Symposium 3 December 2014

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The W3C WAI Research and Development Working Group (RDWG) invites you to contribute to the online symposium on Accessible Way-Finding using Web Technologies.

  • Symposium date: 3 December 2014
  • Abstract submission date: 20 October 2014

Accepted papers will be published online in an attributable form as part of the symposium proceedings. Authors of accepted papers will be invited to participate in the symposium panel.


This symposium brings together researchers, practitioners, and users with disabilities, to explore new and on-going research and development in accessible way-finding using web technologies. It examines different technologies, applications, concepts, and solutions that help people with disabilities orient themselves, explore, and navigate through the physical world. The goal of this symposium is to explore current state-of-the-art in accessible way-finding, better understand the accessibility needs and preferences of people with disabilities, and explore promising web technologies and developments to provide accessible way-finding.


Way-finding includes applications and services to help people orient themselves, explore, and navigate through buildings, places, cities, and beyond. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Navigation systems for drivers and passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians;
  • Interactive guides for museums, tourist attractions, and points of interest;
  • Orientation assistance for airports, hospitals, and public transportation.

Increasingly web technologies are used to provide such way-finding applications and services. This allows them to make use of web-based maps, location information, crowd-sourced reviews, and real-time data about the weather, traffic conditions, and other relevant aspects. It also allows the integration with and use of web-enabled sensors and actuators, and deployment on web-enabled devices such as mobile phones, televisions, overhead signage, glasses, watches, and other gadgets. Way-finding using web technologies enables new paradigms in many areas including mobility, travel, and tourism, and unprecedented opportunities for everyone.

In particular people with disabilities can greatly benefit from such way-finding applications and services, to gain more independence and self-determination. Examples of web-based maps, crowd-sourced information, and public data with accessibility information demonstrate the use of the Web to augment the physical world. Similarly, examples of specially created navigation and orientation systems, smart wheelchairs, smart canes, and other devices and applications demonstrate the potential of connecting the physical world with information on the Web to improve accessibility.

Also mainstream developments, including in the areas of near-field communication, open linked data, and self-driving vehicles, provide the potential for more versatile and cost-effective way-finding applications and services. However, it is unclear how well such mainstream way-finding applications and services address the accessibility needs of people with disabilities. This includes aspects such as:

  • Data about the physical accessibility of places and routes;
  • Capabilities to use this data to select accessible routes;
  • Capabilities to present the information in accessible modes;

This symposium is exploring the current state-of-the-art, gaps, challenges, and opportunities in providing accessible way-finding using web technologies.

Important Dates

  • 20 October 2014: Deadline for paper submissions
  • 3 November 2014: Author notifications
  • 10 November 2014: Deadline for final HTML publication-ready paper submissions
  • 17 November 2014: Registration opens
  • 3 December 2014: Online symposium event, probably 15:00-17:00 UTC


The scope of the symposium includes but is not limited to the following aspects:

  • Users Interfaces: Using web technologies to display spatial, orientation, and navigational information in ways that are accessible for people with different types of disabilities. Some particular questions include:
    • What are the main challenges in providing accessible user interfaces for way-finding systems, and how can web technologies help to address them?
    • How do technologies such as WAI-ARIA and IndieUI address accessibility requirements in way-finding systems, and what gaps exist, if any?
    • Which additional Techniques for WCAG 2.0 could be proposed to help support more rapid development of accessible way-finding systems?
  • Data Sources, Formats, and Standards: Exploring existing and new data sources, formats, and standards to describe, review, and annotate the accessibility of places. Some particular questions include:
    • How are or can semantic web technologies be used to describe accessibility of physical places and objects?
    • What kinds of vocabularies and taxonomies exist as non-web taxonomies, such as those found in building codes, and how can they be reused in the web context?
    • What types of data sources and data collection methodologies provide or can provide accessibility-related information? What types of formats and APIs do they use?
  • Integration with Mainstream Developments: Reviewing mainstream applications, devices, and systems that can contribute to accessible way-finding using web technologies. Some particular questions include:
    • What kinds of technologies, systems, and applications entail potential benefits for accessible way-finding using web technologies?
    • What kinds of web-enabled sensors, devices, and gadgets entail potential benefits for accessible way-finding using web technologies?
    • What is the role of standards, policies, and market forces to enable more mainstream accessible way-finding applications and services?

We particularly welcome submissions that describe:

  • Empirical studies and research,
  • Prototypes, strategies, and solutions,
  • Experiences and lessons learned,
  • Specific recommendations.

Paper Submission

Paper submission closes on 20 October 2014.

Papers should be extended abstracts of about 1,000 words. We encourage concise contributions that are scientifically sound with appropriate references. Papers should clearly explain the:

  • Problem addressed
  • Relevant background
  • Approach - how was the problem addressed, what methodologies were used, what strategies were pursued to address the problem
  • Challenges - major obstacles or difficulties found during the process or that could be encountered in the way forward
  • Outcomes
  • Future research

Papers must be submitted in the template provided, be valid HTML, and meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA.

Review Process

Contributions will be reviewed by the Scientific Committee. Each paper will get at least two independent reviews for criteria including relevance, clarity, soundness, and relevance to the symposium. Papers will be accepted based on this criteria and space availability.

Copyright Policy

Accepted papers will be published online in an attributable form as part of the symposium proceedings.
(For more information, see the FAQ sections RDWG Publications and RDWG Practice for Writership and Credits.)

The Symposium Report will be published under the W3C Document License. Paper authors shall grant W3C a perpetual, non-exclusive, royalty-free, world-wide right and license to copy, publish, use, and modify the contribution and to distribute the contribution under a Berkley Shell Distribution - BSD License or one with more restrictive terms, as well as a right and license of the same scope to any derivative works prepared by the W3C and based on, or incorporating all or part of the contribution. The Contributor further agrees that any derivative works of this contribution prepared by the W3C shall be solely owned by the W3C.

Symposium Chairs

  • Christos Kouroupetroglou (CNT, Greece)
  • Annika Nietzio (Research Institute Technology and Disability (FTB), Germany)
  • Vivienne Conway (Edith Cowan University, Web Key IT Pty Ltd, Australia)

Scientific Committee

[To be announced]