World Wide Web Consortium Issues User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 as a W3C Recommendation
Third in set of Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) guidelines helps developers make accessible browsers and multimedia players
http://www.w3.org/ -- 17 December 2002 -- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has issued the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (UAAG 1.0) as a W3C Recommendation, representing consensus among developers and the disability community on accessibility features needed in browsers and multimedia players used to access the Web. A W3C Recommendation indicates that a specification is stable, contributes to Web interoperability, and has been reviewed by the W3C Membership, who favor its widespread adoption.
"Web browsers and media players serve people as the front door to the Web. But when those tools aren't usable by people with disabilities, it's akin to locking the door and leaving no key," noted Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director. "For the past five years, the technical and disability experts in the Web Accessibility Initiative have provided definitive guidelines for making accessible Web content and designing authoring software that does the same, automatically. Today, with the announcement of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines, developers have the specific guidance they need to make Web browsers and media players more useful to more people."
The Web is for Everyone -- Content, Authoring Tools, Browsers, and Multimedia Players Must Be Accessible
The Web has created unprecedented opportunities for people around the world to learn, work, shop, play, and communicate with others; and even more so for people with disabilities, who have frequently been excluded from many of these activities. Access to the Web for people with disabilities, however, presumes that Web developers choose accessible design over inaccessible design; these guidelines explain how to make accessible design choices when developing browsers and media players.
UAAG 1.0 is written for software developers, and addresses requirements such as accessibility of the user interface, rendering of accessibility information, and user choice in configuring browsers and media players. These guidelines also address interoperability of mainstream browsers and multimedia players with assistive technologies used by people with disabilities. UAAG 1.0 is third in a complementary set of Web accessibility guidelines which already include the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG 1.0) and the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (ATAG 1.0).
UAAG Leads to Improved Software for All Users
All three guidelines (UAAG, WCAG, ATAG) have been developed by W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). Over the past five years WAI has become recognized as the leading international authority on Web accessibility, addressing accessibility issues for users with visual, auditory, physical, cognitive, and neurological disabilities through device-independent, multimodal design. Together these three WAI guidelines help Web developers deliver on the promise of a universal Web that is accessible to all.
UAAG 1.0 addresses a variety of user agent types including HTML and XHTML browsers, multimedia players, graphics viewers, and assistive technologies. Software that conforms to UAAG 1.0 is expected to be more flexible, manageable, extensible, and beneficial to all users.
Browsers and Media Players Already Implementing Many UAAG Features
"For the past five years, browser and media player manufacturers, assistive technology developers, and disability experts have contributed their expertise to UAAG 1.0," explained Jon Gunderson, Chair of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (UAWG). "In addition to the UAAG 1.0 Recommendation, the UAWG has produced Techniques for UAAG 1.0 (detailed information on implementation in different markup languages and user agent types), a Test Suite for UAAG 1.0, and interactive forms for UAAG 1.0 evaluations. These tools will enable developers, users, and purchasing agents to assess the extent of accessibility improvements in Web software."
The implementation of UAAG 1.0 in software is already underway. The Working Group used an extended Candidate Recommendation period for intensive discussions with developers and documentation of UAAG 1.0 implementations in a variety of software. This documentation demonstrated the feasibility and industry acceptance of UAAG 1.0, which carries endorsements and commitments from developers of browsers, media players, assistive technologies, and from government and disability organizations.
About the Web Accessibility Initiative [WAI]
W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), in partnership with organizations around the world, pursues accessibility of the Web through five activities:
- ensuring that core technologies of the Web support accessibility;
- developing guidelines for Web content, user agents, and authoring tools;
- facilitate development of evaluation and repair tools for accessibility;
- conducting education and outreach;
- coordinating with research and development that can affect future accessibility of the Web.
WAI is supported in part by the U.S. Department of Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research; European Commission's Information Society Technologies Programme; Canada's Assistive Devices Industry Office; Elisa Communications; Microsoft Corporation; IBM; SAP, Verizon Foundation, and Wells Fargo.
About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]
The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability. It is an international industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (MIT LCS) in the USA, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users, and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. Currently over 450 organizations are Members of the Consortium. For more information see http://www.w3.org/
Testimonials for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) 1.0 Recommendation
AAPD · ACB · America Online · ATIA · Boeing · DAISY Consortium · Educational Testing Service · European Disability Forum · Freedom Scientific · Gallaudet University · GW Micro · Hewlett-Packard · IBM · Industry Canada · JSRPD · KDE · Macromedia · Microsoft · NIST · ONCE · Opera Software · RealNetworks · RFB&D · Sun Microsystems · Vision Australia Foundation
Accessibility of the Web is essential to ensuring equal access for people with disabilities. Web sites and the software used to build Web sites must be accessible, but so must the browsers and multimedia players that people use on the Web; and these must also become more compatible with assistive technologies such as screen readers and voice recognition software upon which many people with disabilities depend. The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) urges developers of browsers and multimedia players to accelerate their implementation W3C/WAI's User Agent Accessibility Guidelines, in order to better meet the needs of their customers who include millions of Americans with disabilities.-- Andrew J. Imparato, President and CEO, American Association of People with Disabilities
The American Council of the Blind (ACB), a national organization of blind consumers, strongly endorses the productivity of the W3C and its development of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines. These Guidelines provide crucial, in-depth guidance to developers of browsers and multimedia players on how to make their applications more accessible to people with disabilities, and how to make those applications work more effectively with assistive technologies. ACB energetically endorses all the good work of the W3C to provide true access for blind and otherwise disabled people to the Web, and encourages industry and users to continue implementation of this critical work.-- Charles Crawford, Executive Director, American Council of the Blind
America Online applauds the W3C on the release of guidelines that promote the design of user agents that are usable by everyone, including individuals with disabilities. These guidelines are an excellent resource for developers of Internet software who wish to gain an understanding of essential features that enable users with various disabilities to take full advantage of the power of the Internet. Additionally, they provide common ground for assistive technology and information technology companies to work collaboratively to further the accessibility of the Internet, an important priority for AOL.-- Tom Wlodkowski, Director of Accessibility, America Online
The Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) applauds the work of the W3C User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (UAWG) and supports it wholeheartedly. Definition of interoperability standards has long been a requirement for ensuring information technology is truly accessible by people with disabilities. The work done by the UAWG will allow assistive technology vendors to go well beyond what has been traditionally possible in developing accessibility tools for the Internet. This standard, and others like it, are fundamental in bridging the gap between Information Technology and Assistive Technology in a way that will truly benefit thousands of people with disabilities.-- David Dikter, Executive Director, Assistive Technology Industry Association
Boeing has a large and diverse user community, including many people with disabilities. We believe that tools implementing these guidelines, in association with a commitment to implementing the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, will allow all users the opportunity to use the Web more effectively. Boeing will be using these guidelines as one measure of suppliers' performance as we evaluate future Web products.-- Scott R. Vesey, Boeing Enterprise Windows Web Browser Component Manager, The Boeing Corporation
As a major implementor of the W3C's Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL), the DAISY Consortium is delighted to have the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines released as a Recommendation of the W3C. In the Information Age, access to information is a fundamental human right. The DAISY Consortium will use the UAAG in our open source developments and we will promote the UAAG in our interactions with commercial developers and other standards organizations.-- George Kerscher, DAISY Consortium
Educational Testing Service
Educational Testing Service applauds the release of the W3C User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 as an important step forward in enhancing the use of the Web by all. We see these W3C guidelines as helping Web-based tests and related applications meet this goal.-- Kurt M. Landgraf, President and CEO, Educational Testing Service
European Disability Forum
The European Disability Forum regards the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 as a valuable contribution to increase awareness on the needs of disabled people to have access to the Internet. It is vital that guidelines illustrate that different categories of disabled people face different types of barriers when assessing Web pages. These guidelines are a step in the direction of greater awareness-raising on these types of problems, among format designers, authors and software developers. This is an important practical tool to follow up European level initiatives to ensure accessible Web sites for all.-- Helena González-Sancho, European Disability Forum
In the last three versions of Freedom Scientific's screen reader JAWS, we looked to WAI's User Agent Accessibility Guidelines to help us build our specifications for delivering Internet based information to our users. Having such a resource makes our job far easier, and makes JAWS a much better product. I frequently receive phone calls from mainstream software developers asking how to make their Web-centric products accessible, and I can always answer them with a reference to the W3C/WAI Web page. In my opinion, the guidelines published by the WAI rank among the most valuable resources available to both assistive technology and mainstream information technology companies today.-- Chris Hofstader, Vice President, Software Engineering, Freedom Scientific Inc.
As academic developers of on-line and multimedia applications, especially for people with disabilities, we are very excited to see these new guidelines that will help ensure that Web software consistently supports effective accessibility for all users. We particularly endorse the recommendations regarding critical tools such as captioning. Implementation of these guidelines will give developers of educational media confidence that their content will be accessible to everyone, regardless of their specific communication or cognitive needs.-- Cynthia M. King, Ph.D., Executive Director, Academic Technology, Gallaudet University
Thanks to the W3C's User Agent Accessibility Guidelines, we now have a framework for developing even more robust access to Web content for our users. Our implementation of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines in our Window-Eyes screen reading software will allow our users to become more proficient in navigating Web content, as well as provide them with tools for understanding their Web environment.-- Aaron Smith, Webmaster & Technical Support Specialist, GW Micro
HP is committed to connecting everyone to the power of technology, promoting access to the Web for persons with disabilities, and supports the W3C User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (UAAG 1.0). We believe that these guidelines will ultimately result in more accessible browsers and multimedia players as well as benefit accessibility of assistive technologies and other user agents. HP plans to adopt UAAG 1.0 guidelines for the browsers and multimedia players procured in the future, and is interested in the improvements in the accessibility of browsers and multimedia used by HP customers and the general public.-- Natasha Lipkina, Web Accessibility Program Manager, Hewlett-Packard
As a major sponsor of the Web Accessibility Initiative, IBM is proud to endorse the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines. IBM has been on the forefront of accessibility technology that includes creation of the earliest console and GUI based screen readers, co-development of the Java accessibility API, and development of an industry leading talking Web browser Home Page Reader. Until now, accessibility standards for the Web have been limited to content and authoring. This effort completes the picture by defining how software that retrieves and renders content may do so accessibly and with interoperability between other technologies making the Web more usable for all. IBM looks forward to the further adoption of these guidelines in its product offerings.-- Shon Saliga, Worldwide Accessibility Center Director, IBM
The release of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines as a W3C Recommendation will make it much easier for Government bodies to define their needs in procurement documents, in the same way that we reflect that Web content created must conform to the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Now the accessibility of technologies used to access the Web can be defined as well.-- Mary Frances Laughton, Director, Assistive Devices Industry Office, Industry Canada, Government of Canada
The Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities (JSRPD) welcomes the release of the W3C WAI User Agent Accessibility Guidelines. Our efforts to promote information accessibility for all will benefit from the widespread implementation of these guidelines. At JSRPD we are using the guidelines in our own open source software projects for multimedia DAISY playback and encourage others to do the same. With the release of the guidelines, the software development community now has an authoritative source for creating user agents that support the fundamental right of information accessibility.-- Hiroshi Kawamura, Director, Information Center, JSRPD
The Konqueror development team is highly supportive of free and open standards, and is currently implementing the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (UAAG 1.0) in Konqueror, the KDE Web browser. The KDE accessibility project is also working on improving accessibility support in the K Desktop Environment in general.-- Dirk Mueller, K Desktop Environment (KDE) Project
The Web Accessibility Initiative at the W3C represents a vitally important effort in making the Web accessible to all, and Macromedia welcomes the release of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines. Through their work, the W3C has provided great guidance to software developers, Web designers and assistance technology vendors on design and development practices to enhance interoperability and accessibility.-- Kevin Lynch, EVP/Chief Software Architect, Macromedia
Microsoft is proud to be a founding supporter and contributor to the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative and to the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines. Improving Web accessibility is vital to empowering people to realize their potential through the use of technology. These guidelines represent a critical step toward providing full Web access for all people, including those with disabilities.-- Chris Jones, Corporate Vice President, Windows Client Group, Microsoft Corportation
NIST is pleased to see the release of the UAAG 1.0 Recommendation. As an active participant in the development of industry accessibility specifications, such as the work of the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) V2 Technical Committee, NIST has been in the forefront of defining accessibility. NIST looks forward to the opportunity for synergy that future harmonization of these efforts will bring.-- Sharon Laskowski, manager of the Visualization and Usability Group, Information Access Division, NIST
On behalf of blind and partially sighted persons in Spain, ONCE welcomes the User Agent Accesibility Guidelines. The Guidelines will be an important tool for those of us promoting Web accesibility in Europe. ONCE is a major purchaser of Web access software and hardware, and the UAAG will be an important factor in deciding our procurement policy.-- Enrique Varela Couceiro, Manager, New Technologies, Accessibility Department, Fundación ONCE
At Opera Software we believe that the more accessible browser is the better browser. The User Agent Accessibility Guidelines have already been a help to us in achieving this goal. The framework is highly useful, both by motivating and inspiring to make the right design decisions, and by making it possible to test and measure the product afterwards. The guidelines can make it easier to make the Web itself easier, not just for some, but for all. Opera Software will use the guidelines not only as a part of our planning and testing process, but they are also a time-saver for documenting our accessibility features.-- Håkon Wium Lie, Chief Technical Officer, Opera Software
Accessibility and usability are critical to ensuring the full potential of the Web for consumers. Toward this aim, RealNetworks continues to create support within the RealOne Player and our Web services for users with disabilities, and RealNetworks supports the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines as a major step forward to enabling all individuals to experience the richness of the Web as an information source. With these standards, the W3C is building on its record of supporting accessibility standards to increase the value and usefulness of the Web for everyone.-- Brad Hefta-Gaub, Vice President, RealNetworks
The User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) 1.0 is a foundational document that should be read by all developers of user interfaces. There are substantial weaknesses in many of the end-user products that come to market today, and it will be exciting to see products gain broader acceptance in the user community as a result of the implementation of these guidelines. In the area of ePublishing technology, we will be encouraging publishers, who select reading systems for the distribution of their content, to pay attention to UAAG as they select reading systems as avenues for their content. I expect this will encourage the developers of those reading systems to sit up and take notice.-- James Pritchett, Project Manager, Digital Audio, Recording For the Blind & Dyslexic
Sun Microsystems applauds the W3C on the development of the WAI User Agent Accessibility Guidelines, in which we participated as reviewers. The Guidelines will help to speed the development of accessible Web-based products. Sun is implementing the Guidelines in our contribution to the Mozilla open source project, and will deliver an accessible browser for our desktops running on the Solaris Operating Environment (TM) and Linux.-- Curtis Sasaki, Vice President, Desktop Solutions, Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Vision Australia Foundation
Vision Australia Foundation fully endorses the release of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 as a significant step in providing access to the World Wide Web for people with disabilities. The user agent developers can now work to a standard which will improve access for people with disabilities and enable future assistive technologies to better interact with them, providing an improved online experience for the blind, vision impaired and people with other disabilities. Vision Australia strongly supports the accessibility work of the W3C.-- Dr. Andrew Arch, Manager, Online Accessibility Consulting, Vision Australia Foundation