W3C Releases Draft of Web Accessibility Initiative

The World Wide Web Consortium this week
released the first public working draft of the Web Accessibility Initiative.

The Accessibility Guidelines for Page Authoring, which is just one part of
the Web
Accessibility Initiative (WAI), are being developed to make sure that
disabled people have equal access to the Web.

Judy Brewer, Director of the Web Accessibility Initiative International
Program Office, explained the importance of the WAI for disabled people:
“The Page Authoring Guidelines reflect the accessibility improvements in
HTML 4.0, and are an outcome of a collaboration among industry, disability
and research organizations, as well as governments from around the world.”

“The W3C WAI Markup Guidelines Working Group is developing these guidelines
as a key reference for Web authors and site builders who want to ensure
that their Web sites can be reached by the broadest possible audience,”
continued Brewer.

Developers already have a headstart on the WAI if they have been using HTML
4.0 and Cascading Style Sheets Level 2 (CSS2) as they are the foundation
of the WAI. The WAI Page Authoring Guidelines are written to provide
strategies that will improve the accessibility of document structure,
navigation, and alternative formatting of content.

Guideline topics include:

  • images
  • image maps
  • audio
  • video
  • tables
  • links
  • frames
  • user-input forms

The guidelines feature suggested “tests” for Web accessibility, concluding
with an accessibility checklist. Alternative text is required for images,
and new constructs will allow the developer to provide more detailed
textual descriptions of images, image maps, tables, and frames.

The W3C is offering the Web community the use of its HTML Validation Service, which
validates Web pages against the HTML 4.0 Recommendation. The Validation
Service will be updated as additional guidelines are introduced by the WAI
Guidelines Working Groups.

The WAI Accessibility
Guidelines: Page Authoring Working Draft
is available for public
viewing. For
additional information, visit the W3C’s Web
Accessibility Initiative

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