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[Article] "Standards body pushes accessibility online" (CNET)

From: Ian B. Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2001 17:05:10 -0400
Message-ID: <3BA66586.5817FB80@w3.org>
To: w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
Here's a CNET article about UAAG 1.0 advancing to CR:

 "Standards body pushes accessibility online"

  By Paul Festa
  Staff Writer, CNET News.com 
  September 17, 2001, 11:10 a.m. PT 

Text version below.

 - Ian

Ian Jacobs (ij@w3.org)   http://www.w3.org/People/Jacobs
Tel:                     +1 718 260-9447


 Standards body pushes accessibility online 
 By Paul Festa

 Advancing its initiative to make the Web more accessible to people
 with disabilities, a major standards body has issued draft guidelines
 for designing browsers, multimedia players and other Web-based user

 The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) released the candidate
 recommendation for its User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) 1.0.
 The guidelines are poised, following the candidate phase, to join two
 other W3C accessibility recommendations, one for designing accessible
 Web content and the other for authoring tools.

 The W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is nearing the completion
 of its tripartite system of recommendations as making the Web
 accessible becomes an increasingly urgent task for site creators,
 authoring tool makers, and browsing software vendors.

 Federal Web sites, for example, must conform to Section 508, a 1998
 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act that requires technology procured
 by the federal government to be accessible to people with
 disabilities. The section also states that Web sites maintained by
 U.S. departments and agencies must be accessible.

 The W3C's proposed guidelines, first issued as a June 1998 working
 draft, outline for interface designers pitfalls that could prevent
 people with disabilities from using certain functions.

 The guidelines designate three levels of priority. Priority I problems
 are those that could prevent someone from using a feature. Priority II
 problems would have a "substantial impact" on use by a person with a
 disability. Priority III items are problems that, if fixed, would
 facilitate use by someone with a disability.

 One of the guidelines' principal concerns is the computer keyboard,
 where people with both visual disabilities and repetitive strain
 injuries may not find helpful workarounds. For example, the guidelines
 urge user interface designers to provide ways for people to navigate
 using the tab key, rather than a mouse and cursor.

 Another recommendation is that browsers and other user interfaces be
 made compatible with Web content accessibility functions, such as the
 inclusion of a screen-reader-friendly alternative or "alt" text behind

 The guidelines recommend that people be given some degree of control
 over the user interface's appearance. This could improve accessibility
 for color-blind people.

 In an attempt to ensure interoperability between Web user interfaces
 and devices such as screen readers, the guidelines recommend that user
 interface designers use common APIs (application programming
 interfaces), or common methods of making requests of an operating
 system or another application.

 Some of those interfaces are standardized, such as the W3C's own DOM
 (document object model), which makes elements on a Web page
 interactive with scripting and programming languages. But many are
 not, so the standards organization also refers authors to various
 proprietary technologies, including operating system conventions
 already set up to help designers do things such as substitute visual
 cues for beeps.

 The W3C said it had not set a firm deadline on the guidelines'
 graduation to final recommendation, but said it is aiming for year's
Ian Jacobs (ij@w3.org)   http://www.w3.org/People/Jacobs
Tel:                     +1 718 260-9447
Received on Monday, 17 September 2001 17:05:11 UTC

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