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International Web Accessibility Summit

Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 November 2000

Accessibility in emerging Web Technology

The first part of this paper provides an overview of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and in particular of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). It discusses the W3C's role in developing the World Wide Web, and the WAI's role in ensuring that the work of the W3C protects and promotes accessibility. The second part discusses results from work done by WAI and the W3C in general on making XML languages accessible.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines ( have been developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to facilitate the design of accessible web sites by providing a precise, normative statement of the underlying technical requirements, together with detailed techniques of implementation. Version 1.0 of the Guidelines was published as a W3C Recommendation in May 1999, after more than 18 months of development by an international working group, in accordance with an open, collaborative process which encouraged broad participation from interested communities and thorough public review of the document.

In this presentation, the history of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and their interrelations with other guidelines published by the W3C, will be briefly explained. Changes in technology, and experience gained from the implementation of version 1.0, have created the impetus for the preparation of a more advanced edition of the guidelines, which is intended to build upon the existing specification while addressing issues raised since its release, through the construction of a new conceptual framework.

The current thinking of the working group will be examined via an outline of recent technical developments and a possible approach to enhancing the guidelines. It should be emphasised that, as the process of developing a new version of the guidelines is at an early stage, the ideas presented here are only preliminary and may be subject to change at any time. Compatibility with the version 1.0 guidelines will, furthermore, remain an important consideration. Nevertheless, this session will provide insight into the direction which the evolution of the guidelines has taken, and afford an opportunity to discuss the ideas and concerns which are shaping its progress.

Participation by members of the audience is encouraged.

Photograph of Charles McCathieNevile Charles McCathieNevile
Accessiblity Specialist, Web Accessibility Initative, World Wide Web Consortium.

Before joining W3C in November 1998, Charles had been working for Sunrise at RMIT on a variety of things including Web Accessibility and teaching people how to do HTML. At W3C, Charles is working on Web Accessibility full time, focussing on guidelines, protocol review, and outreach. Charles comes from Melbourne Australia, where he did his honours degree (Medieval History, with a little chemistry and biology and a lot of dead languages).

Photograph of Jason White Jason White
Co-Chair Web Accessibility Guidelines Working Group

Jason is presently completing an undergraduate law degree at the University of Melbourne, with interests in public international law, human rights and Constitutional law, whilst undertaking part-time postgraduate research in philosophy, concentrating primarily on epistemological issues.

He has been involved in the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative since May 1997 as a participant in a number of working groups. Jason's contributions have centred upon two areas: (1) the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, both version 1, which was released in May 1999 as a W3C Recommendation, and the ongoing development of version 2; and (2) the accessibility of W3C formats, including HTML 4.0, CSS level 2, XML, SVG etc. At the end of 1999 Jason was appointed, with Gregg Vanderheiden, as co-chair of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines working group.

Discussion Panel

This presentation was followed by open discussion, led by a panel consisting of Liddy Nevile, Martin Fathers, Charles McCathieNevile and Jason White.

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