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RE: Accessibility humanized

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2004 08:49:54 -0500
Message-ID: <C46A1118E0262B47BD5C202DA2490D1A0331807F@MAIL02.austin.utexas.edu>
To: "Andy Budd" <andy@message.uk.com>, "W" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

Andy Budd wrote:

I'm personally interested in how the WAI guidelines were derived. Are 
they a result of comprehensive user testing, or simply recommendations 
from accessibility experts?

WCAG 1.0 was developed over a period of some two years, starting in the
spring of 1997 and ending with publication of the formal Recommendation
in May 1999. As with development of WCAG 2.0, it was a public process;
there are mail archives going back to July 1997 at 


I'm not familiar with the full history, but in the spring semester 1998
I taught a course on accessibility for the first time, and one of the
items on the required reading list was a document called  "Unified Web
Accessibility Guidelines" [1], which pulled together ideas from a large
collection of previous documents.  The following is from a page on the
Trace Center for Research & Design Web site:
<blockquote cite"http://trace.wisc.edu/redirects/htmlgide/htmlgide.htm">
When the WAI was formed in March 1997, there were over 40 documents that
had been written to address web accessibility. In January 1998, the
WAI-GL working
group adopted the Trace Unified Web Guidelines (version 8) as the basis
for their guidelines document. 
Links to various early drafts of the accessibility guidelines are
available in the Trace archives at [2].

Maybe the most interesting one is the one called  "Design of HTML
(Mosaic) Pages to Increase their Accessibility to Users with
Disabilities Strategies for Today and Tomorrow" at [3].  It's dated  31
January 1995.  Note the way HTML and Mosaic are conflated in the title--
this document was written just a month or so after Netscape 1.0 was
released in December 1994 ...[4]

Reading that document reminded me of some important facts: for example,
as of that writing in January 1995, there were no graphical browsers
that supported the alt attribute-- it worked only in text-based browsers
like Lynx.

Several people on this list were involved in the discussions that
eventually produced WCAG 1.0, and some are still actively involved in
the development of version 2.0 as well.

John Slatin

[1] http://trace.wisc.edu/archive/html_guidelines/htmlgide.htm
[2] http://trace.wisc.edu/redirects/htmlgide/htmlgide.htm
[3] http://trace.wisc.edu/archive/html_guidelines/version1.html#start
[4] http://www.sauna.org/retro/wintel/
Received on Monday, 23 August 2004 13:49:56 UTC

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