W3C logoWeb Accessibility Initiative

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

WAI Site UCD User Personas

For personas of people with disabilities using the web, please see: How People with Disabilities Use the Web at www.w3.org/WAI/intro/people-use-web/

There are resources on the Web that specifically address including accessibility in personas and that provide personas of people with disabilities; for example, search for personas accessibility and personas of people with disabilities.

The personas below were developed specifically for a WAI website redesign project in 2004-2005. They represent key users of the WAI website.

Page Contents

Status: a few refinements still to be incorporated...

Note: These personas are fictitious. All characters, organizations, and opinions portrayed in the personas are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or organizations is purely coincidental.

Primary Personas

Martina Prado

woman wearing casual clothing and smiling, sitting in front of computer

I'm just not sure which guidelines to follow. What's the difference between the national standards and the WAI guidelines?

Age: 32
Position: Web site developer
Organization: Small Web design company

Martina Prado is a Web developer in a small "shop" who prides herself on excellent visual design. Martina studied graphic design and English in university and then got into computers during the internet "boom" times. She has managed to keep her company going during the recent recession, and wants to position her company for future growth as the economy recovers. To do this she feels that she needs to be very knowledgeable about all areas of Web development including accessibility.

Martina recently had a client ask about compliance with their national standards, and in talking to other Web developers about the subject she found out about WCAG. She's somewhat familiar with the general ideas of both, however, she is unclear about the difference between the two. She's not sure which would work best for her customers. In addition, in order to add accessibility to her company's services, she would like to find information she can use to convince her customers of the added value of having an accessible Web site.

Martina handles a wide variety of responsibilities including: one-on-one client meetings, programming, project management, Web site design, etc. Martina is very creative and adventurous. She loves to try new things, and even makes her own greeting cards using her computer.

Andy Petroff

man  wearing dark sunglasses and a black t-shirt with a tatoo visible, sitting beside a computer with an impatient expression I have a deadline, and it's not like we have any disabled users anyway. I looked at the server logs, I should know.

Position: coder
Organization: Medium sized software development company

Andy Petroff is "elite", a hardcore code monkey. He runs the Web servers, and codes the Web site. The most technical guy in the company he takes the lead with technical decisions. He thinks all this accessibility stuff is just PC [politically correct] junk -- it's not like people with disabilities ever come onto his site.

Andy doesn't see the need for accessibility. His boss heard about it and told him to check it out. Andy's goal is to gather some quick, concise information about accessibility, and see what's involved to implement it on the company site. His main interest is in placating his boss so he can work on other things.

Since Andy is the only person who knows how to do the Web sites ultimately it's his decision. Unless he sees the need for accessibility he isn't going to waste his time.

Chandra Weesaw

photo coming I am supposed to find information for the vice president about accessibility for a report. I know from my work with programs on campus that this is an important issue for us as an institution.

Age: 52
Position: executive assistant
Organization: university executive office

Chandra Weesaw is an executive assistant at a large university. Chandra needs to gather information about Web accessibility for a new work item to establish a university policy on Web publishing guidelines. She has heard that accessibility is important but she doesn't really know any technical details. Chandra's goal is to gather as much information as she can, however, she feels overwhelmed by the amount of information that is available and the way that various policies overlap. She would like to find a simple guide to help her.

Chandra knows how to do word processing and can save a word processing file to HTML. She does not know how to make a Web page from scratch or how to use Web page creation software ("authoring tools") but she is very capable and a fast learner.

Chandra is following up at home to learn more about Web accessibility in hopes she can help her mother who uses the Web a lot (and even helps with the Web site of a non-profit group she volunteers with) and has age-related diminishing abilities. As it is, accessibility is something she wishes she had a whole lot more time to learn about or a much easier way to figure out what is important.

Thoughts on Other Personas

The personas below cover the user groups that:

Web developer user role

Marc Blake

young man wearing a black shirt and necklace, with a plain expression I just want to make sure my design looks good, but I have to follow these standards, too.

Position: graphic designer
Organization: Small Web design company

Marc Blake spent a lot of work on this project doing what he does best, graphic design. He knows he has to make it accessible too but his design comes first. He hasn't really thought about the accessibility much, and finds the documents rather too long. He might buy a book on the subject but is more likely to buy a new game for his Play Station 2.

Potential: Marc loves design and he could get used to making all his sites with accessibility in mind. Making great looking sites isn't 9 to 5 for Marc so he really does want to do the best job he can. Right now though he thinks accessibility just gets in the way.

Web Accessibility Specialist

William Travis

man wearing a button down shirt,  with a smile

"I need to be up with current bleeding-edge accessibilty thinking and have definitive answers. Plus I want to get involved"

Age: 47
Position: Web accessibility and usability consultant
Organization: Independent

William Travis understands code Web pages to the extent that he can get by comfortably, but he is not a coder and has no interest in becoming one. He performs accessibilty audits and offers advice to client teams - from management level to the techies. He also works hard to promote accessibilty - because its the right thing to do, and also to give himself a competitive edge and increase his client base.

When he started off in the accessibility field WAI was the first port of call, and he recognizes it as the authority. He now increasingly finds the latest techniques and best practice from other sources but would like to know what the "official" line is.

Potential: William is an accessibility advocate so does not need convincing, but he needs to convince others. He needs to be able to trust the WAI site to provide the up-to-date information he requires or point him in the right direction. He needs clear cut answers to conformance issues, and reference material from a definitive public source. He finds that, even though he is not a coder, the coders ask him for technical solutions - so he needs to have the latest technical and "best-practice" information available for referral. He needs to be convinced that the WAI site is his primary reference now and in the future. He could potentially be an asset by getting involved in a WAI working group.

Manager user role

Jessica Pratner

woman wearing sunglasses  and business suit, walking outside I haven't got time to mess around. I need to know where we stand, legally speaking.

Organization: Large enterprise industrial company

Jessica Pratner likes power suits, power meetings and power bars for power lunches. She is responsible for risk management at her company. She wants to know where her company would stand in a lawsuit. She wants concise information that she can verify with the team responsible for the company intranet and Web sites.

Potential: Jessica is keen to see that her company is covered. She would probably be happy with the minimum needed to cover her bases. However she could easily be persuaded to push the Web development team that little bit further to achieve that extra level of compliance, and legal safety.

Person with a disability user role

Mary Stone

young woman wearing sleeveless blouse, sitting inside It would be nice to know what I can expect from Web sites. I know they are supposed to help me but I don't know how exactly.

Age: 19
Position: student
Organization: regional university

Mary Stone has a motor neuron condition which impairs her movement. Most of her friends say "Mary just walks a little funny" but she also has trouble with a mouse. Mary would love to know what Web sites are supposed to be doing for her but she isn't overly technical.

Potential: If Mary knew what was a reasonable amount of accessibility for Web sites to offer she might write a few letters when Web sites didn't meet those standards. She would probably complain to the faculty that their supposedly accessible Web site didn't really help her, and these people at the W3C said it wouldn't be to hard to fix.

Educator user role

Xiaoping Zhang

I want to make sure that my students are prepared to deal with the real world, whatever that will be for them.

Age: 37
Position: professor
Organization: university

Xiaoping Zhang is aware of basic Web accessibility issues and thinks that it is important for his students to be aware of Web accessibility. He is also concerned that the students that are part of the virtual classes are able to easily share their work.

Xiaoping wants easy access to information for himself, his staff, and his students so that they can all be ahead of the game now and in the future. He believes in being proactive but doesn't want it to take all day to find what is needed. While Xiaoping read English very well, not all of his students do, so it is important the English resources are easy to understand by readers whose native language is not English.

Xiaoping does some Web design himself and he requires each of his students to create a Web page as part of class so that they can share project information. He would like to have his administrative assistant and his students be able to find the Web accessibility information they need on their own.

Xiaoping is an innovator. He likes to chart new territory but he is not a Web designer and is not interested in this consuming all of his time with Web accessibility. At the same time, he senses it is important for his own teaching, outreach, and research as well as for his students in their future careers. He is torn between high ideals, high time demands, and lack of reliable, succinct, usable information on Web accessibility.

Dr. Su Sathianathan

I have to meet national Web accessibility standards and WCAG for my own sites. For my consulting, I need a resource to help me in working with product developers in research, industry, and education.

Age: 61
Position: professor, and industry policy consultant for education, research, and business
Organization: university, and various businesses

Dr. Su Sathianathan taught herself HTML and created her own Web pages (for specific research projects and courses. She now has a couple of graduate students that help her maintain them.

Su has grants that require her Web sites to comply with national Web accessibility standards. The University requires that her Web sites meet W3C WAI WCAG 1.0, Priority 1 and Priority 2 Checkpoints. Su would like to have a list that shows the similarities and differences between the national standards and WCAG. She doesn't have time to research the differences herself, she doesn't want to spend a lot of time scanning multiple Web sites.

Potential: Su has a broad spectrum of off-campus clients in the research and business. Some are affiliated with either education or artificial language and technology field. Others are interested in the disabilities area but have little comprehension of the scope of the issues their customers might encounter with their products. Though Su is very near retirement, she has the potential to impact a large number of products at the development stage as well as to affect policy in research, education, and business.


Brad Fletcher

I can't get a straight answer from anybody. What's the difference between 508 and the W3C guidelines?

Age: 24
Position: Legislative Assistant
Organization: State legislature, USA

Brad is a legislative assistant to a state senator who chairs a subcommittee on disability affairs. He has been charged by his senator to do background work on a bill that would require all Web-based services provided by their state to comply with a standard set of guidelines. Lobbyists representing various sides of the debate have stated that the best way to proceed is to follow the federal Section 508 guidelines, while others have advocated WCAG and/or ATAG as the minimum necessary for many people with disabilities to use the state's services.

A third political option exists: Brad could recommend the state create their own guidelines using a mixture of 508 and WCAG. This has potential political benefits that may ease its advancement through the process.

Lawmakers are capable of either empowering or confounding our efforts at standards harmonization. It is important to ensure that people who are attempting to institute policy around Web accessibility are aware not only of who is affected and how, but also the benefits of WAI guidelines over others, and the added network benefits of a unified standard (supporting tools, stronger market power, etc.). People working on legislation should be made aware of how to evaluate the value of WCAG and other WAI standards compared to other standards like Section 508.


Caryn-Ann Robinson

woman wearing a button down shirt, smiling

I'm looking for a source that can give a concise definition of the term accessibility and has information about the international guidelines how to apply them, and statistics about how many Web sites follow them.

Age: 26
Position: Journalist
Organization: Daily Newspaper, South Africa

Caryn-Ann Robinson has a master's degree in journalism. She covers technology, and writes a weekly column on the subject. She really enjoys her job and her column has a fairly large audience. Her personal goal is to keep up her reputation for being highly knowledgeable and helpful to her readers with as little effort as possible. While she gets a lot of exposure through this column she makes more money doing news stories, so getting it done quickly is worth her while. She is watched carefully by many readers and they are quick to criticize if she makes a factual error, so she thoroughly researches subjects before writing about them.

Caryn-Ann is writing a critique of three new Web sites and one of the aspects she wants to analyze is accessibility. She's heard the term "Accessibility" used a lot lately, but few of her readers seem to understand it. She's looking for general information she can give to her readers and for specific Web pages that she can cite as references for those interested in the subject. When she visits the site she'll be looking not only for information to fill her column, but also for useful information for her readers.

Kerry Roth

I'm on a deadline, and I have to analyze the latest working draft of WCAG. I have fifteen minutes to find out as much as I can about the document, and get a quote from a W3C representative.

Age: 31
Position: Reporter
Organization: Major newspaper

Kerry is a tech reporter for a large British newspaper. She is very familiar with W3C specifications, though less so with WCAG and barely aware of the others. She received news of a new draft via the W3C's communications team. Her time is very limited, and she needs to absorb as much information about the document as possible. Kerry requires quick access to the latest document, any comments released by the working group about the document, and contact information.

Potential: Reporters are not usually themselves consumers of our documents. They are, however, a great resource for evangelizing what we produce. The more the site speaks to what reporters need, and provides them with just-in-time connections to WAI personnel, the more likely we are to be seen as a relevant resource in the field of accessibility to them, and by extension, to the outside world.

The best thing we can provide for reporters is a clean path to the newest material. The site (especially the relevant documents) should be as clear as possible in terms of what is gained by following the guidelines; to which groups the document is relevant; and, if possible, quotes and contact information.