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Suggested text to the introduction to discuss conformance and accessibility

From: Jon Gunderson <jongund@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Date: Fri, 06 Oct 2000 10:25:15 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
1.x Accessibility and Conformance UAAG
The goal of UAAG is to increase the accessibility of user agent technology 
through improved built-in accessibility features and compatibility with 
assistive technology.  Built-in accessibility features are available to 
people who can use the supported input and output devices of the user 
agent.  So for a graphical user interface like Microsoft Windows, Apple 
Macintosh and various versions of the X-Windowing system for UNIX this 
typically includes a bit-mapped graphics display, pointing device and a 
keyboard.  The guidelines require full support for the keyboard for all 
functionalities and the ability to adjust the graphical renderings for 
people with visual impairments.  Some users with disabilities are not able 
to use some or all the supported input and output devices of the standard 
user agent and therefore need to use assistive technologies for access to 
the user agent functionalities through speech input, speech output, 
on-screen keyboards, refreshable Braille displays and various other 
interface techniques.  In this case UAAG requires compatibility through the 
use standard input/output APIs, keyboard support, supporting accessibility 
APIs, and exporting the DOM for assistive technology to have direct access 
to web content.  Assistive technologies can offer renderings and input 
techniques that meet the needs of the people with disabilities that they 
are designed to serve.

One question that consumers may ask is what is the difference between 
accessibility of a user agent to people with disabilities and conformance 
of a user agent to UAAG, especially to answer the question of whether a 
user agent is usable by a particular disability.  If a person with a 
disability can use the supported input and output devices of a user agent, 
then accessibility and conformance to the guidelines probably mean the same 
thing.  If a user cannot use some or all input or output devices supported 
by the user agent, then they would need to use a conforming user agent with 
some additional assistive technology.  For example most user agents do not 
directly support synthetic speech output, so someone who is blind would 
need to use screen reader to read web content and access user interface 
controls.  The combination of the screen reader and a user agent can 
conform to UAAG if the combination of the screen reader and the user agent 
comply to all the applicable guidelines for rendering content to the 
user.  The user agent working group has setup groupings of applicable 
checkpoints that can be used in conformance claims so consumers can more 
easily understand what output modalities a user agent supports.  These 
include Text, GUI, Multimedia, Speech and All.

Jon Gunderson, Ph.D., ATP
Coordinator of Assistive Communication and Information Technology
Division of Rehabilitation - Education Services
College of Applied Life Studies
University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign
1207 S. Oak Street, Champaign, IL  61820

Voice: (217) 244-5870
Fax: (217) 333-0248

E-mail: jongund@uiuc.edu

WWW: http://www.staff.uiuc.edu/~jongund
WWW: http://www.w3.org/wai/ua
Received on Friday, 6 October 2000 11:25:08 UTC

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