How WAI Develops Accessibility Standards through the W3C Process:
Milestones and Opportunities to Contribute

W3C Standards

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) develops web standards such as HTML, CSS, etc. WAI is part of W3C and follows the W3C Process for developing web standards.

W3C’s web standards are called W3C Recommendations. WAI has developed several W3C Recommendations, including:

[WAI Accessibility Guidelines] that are [W3C Recommendations] are [Web Standards]


Editor’s Drafts have no official standing and do not necessarily represent Working Group consensus; that is, the draft might include proposals that the Working Group has not agreed on.

The milestones that a W3C “technical report” goes through on its way to becoming a W3C Recommendation are listed below.

  1. draft documents: Working Draft: Working Drafts are published and announced specifically to ask for review and input from the community. Often there are issues that a Working Group would particularly like input on. Usually multiple Working Drafts of a technical report are published.
  2. complete technical report: Wide Review Working Draft: When a Working Group believes it has addressed all comments and technical requirements, it provides the complete document for community review and announces that it is ready for wide review.
  3. using computer with technical report: Candidate Recommendation: The main purpose of Candidate Recommendation is to ensure that the technical report can be implemented. W3C encourages developers to use the technical report in their projects. The technical report is stable at this stage; however, it may change based on implementation experience.
  4. endorsing technical report: Proposed Recommendation: After there are implementations of each feature of the technical report, W3C announces it as a Proposed Recommendation. At this stage, the report is submitted to the W3C Membership for endorsement.
  5. approved technical report: W3C Recommendation (Web Standard): Once there is significant support for the technical report from the W3C Members, the W3C Director, and the public, it is published as a Recommendation. W3C encourages widespread deployment of its Recommendations.

That was a simplified description of the process. For the definitive version, see the W3C Process Document, Section 7: W3C Technical Report Development Process.

Other Resources

WAI also develops documents that support the guidelines and do not go through the process described above.

Get WAI News for Community Collaboration

To get WAI announcements of Working Drafts for review via e-mail, Twitter, or Atom/RSS feed, see Get WAI News.

WAI’s W3C Recommendations, Working Group Notes, and Resources are developed in WAI Working Groups with input from the community. WAI actively encourages broad participation from industry, disability organizations, accessibility researchers, government, and others interested in web accessibility.

Participating in WAI describes ways that you can contribute to WAI’s accessibility work, including reviewing and commenting on WAI guidelines as they are being developed.

The best time to comment is when WAI announces Working Drafts for review. Please send your comments early in the process, when the Working Group can most effectively address them in the developing technical report. Technical comments sent after the wide review period have less weight, and a Working Group might not be able to make substantive changes late in the process. The W3C Process Document provides more information on Reviews and Review Responsibilities.

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