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W3C/WAI announces Working Draft of Page Authoring Guidelines

From: Judy Brewer <JBrewer@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 03 Feb 1998 13:28:32 -0500
Message-Id: <3.0.32.19980203132830.009d3420@sand.w3.org>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) today annouced the first public
draft of the WAI Accessibility Guidelines: Page Authoring.

A copy of the press release follows, and is also available at
http://www.w3.org/Press/1998/WAI-Guide

Additional resources, including the working draft, and a summary of HTML
4.0 accessibility improvements, are mentioned in the press release and
linked from the WAI home page http://www.w3.org/WAI

Many thanks to all whose ideas have contributed to this working draft.  

Please distribute or re-post this message as appropriate, avoiding
duplicate postings where possible.

Thank you,

Judy

-------------------------------------------------------
Judy Brewer   jbrewer@w3.org     617-258-9741
Director, Web Accessibility Initiative International Program Office
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
MIT/LCS Room NE43-355
545 Technology Square, Cambridge MA 02139 USA
http://www.w3.org/WAI

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CAMBRIDGE, MA, USA - February 3, 1998 -- The World Wide Web Consortium
(W3C) today issued the first public working draft of the WAI
Accessibility Guidelines: Page Authoring, one part of the solution which
the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is pursuing to ensure that the
millions of people with disabilities worldwide have access to the
benefits of the Web. "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," explained Judy Brewer,
Director of the Web Accessibility Initiative International Program
Office. "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." 

WAI Accessibility Guidelines: the Road Map for Accessible Design 

Using HTML 4.0 and Cascading Style Sheets Level 2 (CSS2) as a
foundation, the WAI Page Authoring Guidelines provide strategies to
improve the accessibility of document structure, navigation, and
alternative formatting of content. Much of the guidance applies to
earlier versions of HTML as well. Examples of covered topics include
images and image maps, audio and video, tables, links, frames, and
user-input forms. The guidelines include several suggestions for how to
test accessibility of Web sites, and conclude with a brief accessibility
checklist. 

"I've been writing accessibility guidelines for years, and never
imagined this kind of progress," said Gregg Vanderheiden, Director of
the Trace Research and Development Center at the University of
Wisconsin, Madison, and co-chair of the W3C WAI Markup Guidelines
Working Group. "In the WAI Markup Guidelines Working Group, we have made
more progress in three months than we ordinarily would in three years.
We are already getting feedback that these Web accessibility guidelines
are so much clearer and more usable than guidelines available
previously." 

The HTML 4.0 Recommendation includes a number of changes which
facilitate accessibility of Web pages. Most significantly, the HTML 4.0
specification makes a strong distinction between structure and
presentation through integration of style sheets. Alternative text is
now required for images; and new constructs enable more detailed textual
description of images, image maps, tables and frames. HTML 4.0 provides
a means for more structured forms and form menus, better support for
keyboard navigation, and provides mechanisms for more understandable
audio rendering of tables. 

Paul W. Schroeder, Director of the National Technology Program, American
Foundation for the Blind, added, "HTML 4.0 provides a robust and
convenient structure for ensuring equal access to a great deal of Web
content for people who are blind or visually impaired and for others who
primarily rely on keyboard navigation or text-only displays. We
encourage content developers to use the new Page Author Guidelines
issued by the WAI as a handy reference on how to take full advantage of
important features such as text descriptions of images and alternative
presentation of tabular information." 

"The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) is pleased that the
W3C has taken steps with the of HTML 4.0 enabling inclusion of disabled
people in the World Wide Web community. If corporations and individuals
now actively take advantage of the opportunities offered by including
the improvements of HTML 4.0 in their products and Web sites they will
be demonstrating their commitment to true 'design for all'," said
Jillian Harvey, Assistant to the Director of Technical Consumer Services
at RNIB. "RNIB urges chief executives to prioritize adoption of these
standards." 

The W3C HTML Validation Service (http://validator.w3.org/) validates Web
pages against the HTML 4.0 Recommendation, including checking for "alt"
(alternative content) tags for images, now required under HTML 4.0. The
Validation Service will be updated according to the guidelines produced
by the WAI Guidelines Working Groups. 

Broad Implementation Support 

Some of the biggest improvements in accessibility will come from full
implementations of HTML 4.0 and CSS2; the WAI is looking forward to
major browser and authoring tool manufacturers' implementations of these
accessibility improvements. 

"As we move into a universally connected world, where education, jobs,
services and entertainment are all enabled via the Web, it is critical
to provide technology that enables all Web users. Leveraging our
tradition of enabling technologies, and as an author for both the new
accessibility guidelines and the enhancements to HTML 4.0, IBM is
committed to ensuring that all users, including those with disabilities,
will be able to fully leverage the power of the Web," said John Patrick,
Vice President of Internet Technology at IBM. 

"Microsoft is a founding sponsor and active member of the WAI's efforts
and continues to be supportive in the area of full Web accessibility.
Internet Explorer 4.01 is extremely accessible and includes many of the
features contained in the HTML 4.0 specification, and Microsoft will
continue to improve its browser for use by people with disabilities,"
said Luanne LaLonde, Accessibility Product Manager at Microsoft. "After
all, many of these features are useful for all users, not just those
with disabilities, so our accessibility work benefits a wide range of
the Internet population." 

The WAI Page Authoring Guidelines are part of a comprehensive set of
guidelines with broad applicability, and are being lauded as
instrumental where accessibility is an added value feature, an
expectation, or a requirement. 

"We feel that designing more accessible Internet-based solutions will be
a tremendous service to our clients. The guidelines set forth by the Web
Accessibility Initiative are invaluable in helping us adapt projects and
services accordingly," added Phill Christian, Partner, Systems Design
Group, USWeb Corporation. 

"The WAI Page Authoring Guidelines give a consolidated look at all the
issues facing users with disabilities that designers should keep in mind
when developing sites. The efforts of the WAI dovetail perfectly with
our goals as an educational organization to give us quality material to
pass on to our membership. We will make sure that our designers get the
message," said Ann Navarro, Governing Board Member for the HTML Writers
Guild, the largest international Web developers group. 

"The Federal Government of Canada is revising the accessibility section
of their well-regarded Internet Style Guide to reflect the WAI Page
Authoring Guidelines. They are doing this to fulfill their commitment to
a truly accessible electronic government," said Chuck Letourneau,
consultant to the Canadian Government, and co-chair of the W3C WAI
Markup Guidelines Working Group. 

Cynthia Waddell, Disabilities Access Coordinator for the City of San
Jose, California, and recent recipient of a WebGrrls Award for her
ground-breaking work in accessible Web design, commented, "As the first
governmental jurisdiction in the United States to adopt a Web
accessibility policy, we really welcome these new guidelines. When we
started to do this in San Jose originally, there was no central resource
for Web accessibility. We are very proud to support removal of barriers
to effective communication and commerce." The San Jose model has been
recognized by the US Federal Government as a best practices model for
Web accessibility. 

The Web Accessibility Initiative and International Program Office 

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative is pursuing accessibility of the
Web through five primary areas of work: addressing accessibility issues
in the technology of the Web; creating guidelines for browsers,
authoring tools, and content creation; developing evaluation and
validation tools for accessibility; conducting education and outreach;
and tracking research and development. Depending on an individual's
disability (or the circumstances in which one is browsing the Web, for
instance on a device with no graphics display capability, or in a noisy
environment), graphics, audio content, navigation options, or other
aspects of Web design can present barriers. 

The Web Accessibility Initiative International Program Office is
sponsored by the US National Science Foundation and the Department of
Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation
Research; the European Commission's TIDE Programme; and the W3C industry
Members including IBM/Lotus Development Corporation, Microsoft
Corporation, NCR, and Riverland Holding. Disability and research
organizations on several continents also actively participate in the
WAI. 

In addition to issuing the Page Authoring Guidelines, the W3C WAI User
Interface Guidelines Working Group and Authoring Tools Guidelines
Working Group are developing guidelines for browsers and for authoring
tools.
Detailed information on accessibility improvements in HTML 4.0 is
available in the WAI Resource: HTML 4.0 Accessibility Improvements
document at http://www.w3.org/WAI/References/HTML4-access 

The WAI Accessibility Guidelines: Page Authoring Working Draft has been
produced as part of the WAI Technical Activity, and is available at
http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/WD-WAI-PAGEAUTH-0203. For more information on
the Web Accessibility Initiative, please see http://www.w3.org/WAI/. 


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; reference code implementations to embody and
promote standards; and various prototype and sample applications to
demonstrate use of new technology. To date, more than 235 organizations
are Members of the Consortium. 

For more information about the World Wide Web Consortium, see
http://www.w3.org/ 

W3C Hosts 

   MIT Laboratory for Computer Science http://www.lcs.mit.edu/ 
   INRIA http://www.inria.fr/ 
   Keio University http://www.keio.ac.jp/
Received on Tuesday, 3 February 1998 13:27:51 GMT

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