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News Release: World Wide Web Consortium Issues User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 as a W3C Recommendation

From: Judy Brewer <jbrewer@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 10:21:36 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

WAI Interest Group:

The following W3C News Release went out today, 17 December 2002.

May be circulated, but please avoid cross-postings.


- Judy


Making Web Browsers and media players accessible is like giving everyone
a key to the front door of the Web. W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative
(WAI) has produced the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines, which are
written to provide specific detailed instruction on how to make their
software an open door.

An unprecedented 23 testimonials, including those from software
manufacturers, government agencies and disability organizations are 
included in this mail. For more information, contact Janet Daly, W3C Head 
of Communications, at +1 617 253 5884, or


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

This press release (in English, French, and Japanese), testimonials and
a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about UAAG 1.0 are also
available on the Web at:


The User Agent Accessibility Guidelines themselves are at:


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

Testimonials for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 Recommendation

These testimonials are in support of UAAG 1.0 Press Release, and are from:
American Association of People with Disabilities; American Council of
the Blind; America Online; Assistive Technology Industry Association;
Boeing; Daisy Consortium; Educational Testing Service; Freedom
Scientific; Gallaudet University; GW Micro; Hewlett-Packard; IBM;
Industry Canada; KDE; Macromedia; Microsoft; National Institute of
Standards and Technology (US); ONCE; Opera Software; Real Networks;
RFB&D; Sun Microsystems; and 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

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 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

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

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

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

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, New Technology Manager, 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.

-- Hĺkon 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 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

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:

      1. ensuring that core technologies of the Web support accessibility;
      2. developing guidelines for Web content, user agents, and authoring
      3. facilitate development of evaluation and repair tools for
      4. conducting education and outreach;
      5. 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/


Contact America --
         Janet Daly, <janet@w3.org>, +1.617.253.5884 or +1.617.253.2613
Contact Europe --
         Marie-Claire Forgue, <mcf@w3.org>, +33.492.38.75.94
Contact Asia --
         Saeko Takeuchi <saeko@w3.org>, +81.466.49.1170


Judy Brewer    +1.617.258.9741    http://www.w3.org/WAI
Director, Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
MIT/LCS Room NE43-355, 200 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA,  02139,  USA
Received on Tuesday, 17 December 2002 10:21:32 UTC

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