W3C To Open Web to Those With Disabilities

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Tuesday advanced the final set of
guidelines in its triad of recommendations geared at making the Web more
accessible to those with disabilities.

W3C said it issued the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (UAAG 1.0)
as a W3C Recommendation, complementing the previously issued Web Content
Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG 1.0) and the Authoring Tool
Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (ATAG 1.0).

UAAG lays out the accessibility features required in browsers and
multimedia players to allow those with different abilities to access the Web. It addresses
HTML and XHTML browsers, multimedia players, graphics viewers and assistive

“Web browsers and media players serve people as the front door to the Web,”
said Tim Berners-Lee, father of the World Wide Web and director of W3C.
“But when those tools aren’t usable by people with disabilities, it’s akin
to locking the door and leaving no key. 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.”

UAAG 1.0 is designed to help software developers address requirements such
as accessibility of the user interface, rendering of accessibility
information, and user choice in configuring browsers and media players.
Also, the guidelines describe interoperability of mainstream browsers and
multimedia players with assistive technologies.

Jon Gunderson, chair of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working
Group (UAWG), noted that in addition to producing UAAG 1.0, the UAWG has
produced detailed information on implementing UAAG 1.0 in various 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,” he said.

UAAG, WCAG and ATAG were all developed under the aegis of the W3C’s Web
Accessibility Initiative (WAI), which formed five years ago to address
accessibility issues for users with visual, auditory, physical, cognitive
and neurological disabilities. WAI works with the support of the U.S.
Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and
Rehabilitation Research, the European Commission’s Information Society
Technologies Programme, Canada’s Assistive Devices Industry Office, Elisa
Communications, Microsoft, IBM, SAP, Verizon Foundation and Wells Fargo.

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