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User Agent Accessibility Guidelines FAQ task of EO

From: by way of Harvey Bingham <hbingham@acm.org>
Date: Fri, 14 Apr 2000 00:40:47 -0400
Message-Id: <4.3.1.2.20000414002709.00bf7a80@pop.tiac.net>
To: w3c-wai-eo@w3.org
At the UA face to face I learned that EO has the task of producing the FAQ
for the UAAG and techniques to support them.

Two early entries need to explain what are user agents. (The next two come
from the UAAG glossary).

Q: What is a User Agent?

A: A user agent is an application that retrieves and renders Web content, 
including text, graphics, sounds, video, images, and other content types. A 
user agent may require additional user agents that handle some types of 
content. For instance, a browser may run a separate program or plug-in to 
render sound or video. User agents include graphical desktop browsers, 
multimedia players, text browsers, voice browsers, and assistive 
technologies such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, speech 
synthesizers, onscreen keyboards, and voice input software.

Q: What are assistive technologies?

A: In the context of this document, an assistive technology is a user agent 
that relies on one or more other user agents to help people with 
disabilities interact with a computer. For example, screen reader software 
is an assistive technology because it relies on browsers or other 
application software to enable Web access, particularly for people with 
visual and learning disabilities.
Examples of assistive technologies that are important in the context of 
this document include the following:
       screen magnifiers, which are used by people with visual 
disabilities to enlarge and change colors on the screen to improve the 
visual readability of text and images.
       screen readers, which are used by people who are blind or have 
reading disabilities to read textual information through synthesized speech 
or Braille displays.
       speech recognition software, which may be used by people who have 
some physical disabilities.
       alternative keyboards, which are used by people with certain 
physical disabilities to simulate the keyboard.
       alternative pointing devices, which are used by people with certain 
physical disabilities to simulate mouse pointing and button activations.

A third one, that I was tasked to provide, limits the user agents:

Q: To what user agents do the UA Guidelines apply?

A: The WAI User Agent Working Group intentionally chose to limit the
intended audience of user agents in version 1.0 of the User Agent Guidelines
to graphical desktop user agents. (e.g., graphical browsers, media players).
In part, this was decided because assistive technology developers were
concerned by the requirements for communication with other user agents.
The WG chose to address general purpose graphical user agents instead of
specialized user agents because the latter generally address their target 
audience well and are not intended to be universally accessible.

New types of user agents will continue to evolve. These will have better 
support for building on the DOM. The UA Guidelines may need to consider
in a later version other aspects of these types. As more accessibility
support appears in the user agents, the need for special purpose assistive
technologies will diminish.

Regards/Harvey Bingham
Received on Friday, 14 April 2000 02:02:43 GMT

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