Do you have ideas of how to improve W3C accessibility standards?
The Silver Task Force and the W3C Silver Community Group and their research partners did more than a year of research about the successor to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2. The Silver Design Sprint in March 2018 started finding solutions for the problem statements and opportunities identified by this research. These statements focus on the structure of Silver and not (yet) on the content. We have a lot of great ideas to get started. The Design Sprint Report is comprehensive and rather long. We also wrote a shortened Suggestions of the Silver Design Sprint in a blog post.
We want and need the creative input from our expert accessibility community. We have a lot of ideas that came out of the Design Sprint, and now we start experimenting, testing, and refining how these ideas could work in the real world. Things like:
- Writing Silver in plain/simple language. We need editors who can help us translate much of the existing WCAG 2.1 advice to simple language. It’s a big job. Many hands make light work.
- “Databasing all the things” so that we can filter and customize information to give users the information they need without a wall of text. We need help designing this, including the basic task of identifying the tag names that are needed. Some of you have thought about this, have information architecture experience, or have already created lists of tag names. Please help us out. We need some expert advice. Send us an email if you can help at email@example.com.
- Linking to more helpful information that is hard to find, like tutorials, videos of PwD using a feature, etc. How do we do that without creating too much clutter for beginners? There are designers with usability expertise that know how to do this. Forward this email to them.
- Creating a homepage that will direct beginners where to start, and as well as helping experts quickly find the code sample or tutorial link they want to include in a client report.
- Developing a method for accessibility experts to contribute new content, such as design patterns, codes and tests, where you experts comment and vote material up and down. Many people recommend that we take lessons learned from open source communities. This would help keep Silver current while digital innovation keeps speeding up. How do we do that while ensuring that Silver provides top quality information? What would the interface look like? What features would you want? Draw it up for us, please. We have a Github repo you can contribute to.
- Changing how we define conformance so that more needs of people with disabilities can be included than can tested in true/false success criteria statements. This is difficult. Many of you have experience creating testing tools and measurements beyond WCAG. We need your expertise. Here is a rough draft of a way Silver conformance could work. Please comment on it and file Github issues. Add your own ideas.
- Improving the specification development tools so that more people with disabilities can participate. Initially, at a minimum, we need a simplified interface to Github that will allow screen reader users and people with cognitive disabilities to be able to submit an issue, read other comments, and add to the issue discussion. Contact Jeanne on Twitter @jspellman or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Helping us organize the usability testing of these ideas! We want Silver to be evidence-based, and we want data of what you like and don’t like about the ideas being proposed.
These ideas are innovative and controversial in their own way. We want to develop working prototypes that we can show and user test both to refine and improve the ideas, but also to demonstrate that it can work and build support from key stakeholders before we start working on what new guidance will go into Silver.
If you haven’t seen an idea that appeals to your creativity, there are many more ideas in the Suggestions of the Design Sprint and the full Design Sprint Report. It also isn’t too late to create new ideas and priorities for Silver, this is just where we are putting a stake in the ground and saying, “let’s start here”.
One of the barriers identified during our research is the difficulty and time-consuming nature of standards work. We are using the W3C Silver Community group as a way for people to work on what interests them, and contribute only the time they want. Joining the Silver Community Group is free, and requires agreeing to a limited IPR requirement so that W3C can use your work while keeping the finished guidelines free from royalties or fees for use. It puts you on the mailing list, allows you to attend meetings (if you want), and to publish on the wiki. People who wish to contribute to the Github repo for prototypes should contact us for access. (Permissions are still manual).
Read the Suggestions blog post, take a few minutes to join the Silver Community Group, and start jot down some ideas. To join the Silver Community Group:
- create a W3C account if you haven’t already. If you have an account but have lost the password, use this link to recover your W3C password.
- The link to join the Silver Community Group is near the bottom of the page, under the heading of Participants or you can also join from the Silver Participants page
Here’s some useful links for those who want more information.