FW: W3C Proposes Guidelines On Web Access

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                      NEWSBYTES(R) Top Story  
W3C Proposes Guidelines On Web Accessibility

25 Mar 1999, 3:12 PM CST
By Laura Randall, Newsbytes.

  Charging that most Web sites don't provide adequate            
  accessibility for users with disabilities, the World Wide      
  Web Consortium (W3C) released draft guidelines on how Web      
  site designers and managers can provide better access to all   
  Internet users.                                                
  The guidelines, which were developed by the consortium's Web   
  Accessibility Initiative, are aimed at creating greater        
  awareness in the Web community of users who operate in         
  contexts different from the average Web user, including        
  persons who are visually or hearing impaired, those who        
  cannot a keyboard or mouse and those using text- only          
  "The majority of large sites are not accessible to people      
  with disabilities," Judy Brewer, director of the Web           
  Accessibility Initiative, tells Newsbytes. "There's not a      
  consistent level of awareness yet among Web developers that    
  it's important to maintain accessibility of their sites."      
  The World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, is an industry group    
  that develops technologies used for the Web. Its hundreds of   
  members include AT&T, America Online, IBM, Microsoft and       
  SAP. Implementation of the guidelines is subject to member     
  The guidelines discuss accessibility issues and provide        
  accessible design solutions. For example, one way to make      
  Web sites more accessible is by using style sheets to          
  control font styles and eliminating the font element. This     
  gives hypertext markup language (HTML) authors more control    
  over their pages and makes those pages more accessible to      
  people with low vision.                                        
  Another guideline explains how content developers can make     
  images accessible by providing a text equivalent that states   
  the purpose of the image. This would allow a blind Internet    
  user with a speech synthesizer installed on his computer to    
  understand the function of the image. The total cost to the    
  Web site designer has yet to be established, Brewer said.      
  Other groups are also pushing for improved accessibility on    
  the Web. Disabilities Information Resources, a Trenton,        
  N.J.-based organization, is urging Web site managers to        
  voluntarily provide complete access to Internet users before   
  anti-discrimination challenges arise in conjunction with the   
  Americans with Disabilities Act.                               
  "We don't think it's intentional discrimination, but it        
  would make more sense to address this before any problems      
  arise," DINF spokesman Phil Hall tells Newsbytes               
  For the most part, Web sites large and small are unaware of    
  the process involved in making their sites accessible and      
  maintaining that accessibility, Brewer said.                   
  Jeff Thomas, director of marketing at iSyndicate, admits       
  that accessibility isn't a top priority at the San             
  Francisco-based Internet content service provider right now.   
  But, he adds: "It's on our radar screen. It seems like         
  something we would ethically want to do. The short-term        
  answer is we aren't doing anything now. The long-term answer   
  is it's definitely something we'd want to consider."           
  Reported by Newsbytes News Network, http://www.newsbytes.com   
  (1999032499/Contact: Phil Hall, Open City Communications,      
  212-714-3575 /WIRES ONLINE/W3C/PHOTO)                          
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Received on Friday, 26 March 1999 17:21:39 UTC