History and Timeline

Web accessibility was first considered when OZeWAI started with a couple of presentations to interested participants in the early 1990’s.

At that time, many people were learning to make webpages using HTML and the Sunrise Research Laboratory provided a course online for free. It was designed to teach good principles and to help ensure that Web pages were accessible. It was used by developers and particularly universities around the world. This work grew into a set of activities including what was called a ‘hyperlecture’ because it was an hour long lecture that had so many hyperlinks it could form the base for a semester’s work on accessibility. This was especially useful because a teacher could provide students with work even if she herself did not yet know much about accessibility.

The Sunrise Research Laboratory also published a CD that was designed for and used by most Australian schools. Then, most schools did not yet have access to the Internet and many were worried about what children might access if they did. The OZeWAI CD was full of ‘safe’ sites and had, in fact, 192,000 items from the Web. These resources were all sourced with permission and(and form an interesting archive of the Web at that time). It was known as the OZeKIDS CD – hence the name of OZeWAI 🙂 The CD has been lodged in the National Library of Australia.

W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium worked on how to ensure the Web was able to be accessible to all, and Liddy Nevile, Sunrise Director, and others were soon involved in this work. Charles Nevile later went to W3C and worked specifically on accessibility in the WAI Team before moving on to other W3C activities in Europe.

In the early days, the Sunrise team convened an annual get-together of people interested in accessibility. This was known as the OZeWAI Conference and was held many times at La Trobe University. The Conference is now organised by the OZeWAI Committee. It has been attended by a keen bunch of participants and each year there have been interesting contributions from local and international players in the field of accessibility. All resources from these conferences are available online.

There is a ‘hyperlecture‘ on accessibility that might be of interest. It is kept for historic reasons as it was one of the first and most used in the 1990’s. It was developed and distributed so that people with little knowledge of accessibility could present the issues to their work colleagues. This was a ‘hyperlecture’ meaning that it was a lecture that could be accessed via its links to significant depth, thus providing the materials for a typical one-semester university course.


This is a growing timeline for recording the history of OZeWAI.

September 1996

W3C WAI project started

For description of history by Danial Dardailler, see WAI History. The WAI official launch occurred at the Web Conference in Santa Clara in April 1997.

February 1997

Briefing Package For Project WAI

See notes at Briefing Package.

August 1997

First WAI meetings

Jason White, Melbourne, attended the first WAI Groups meeting in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.


OZeWAI begins

Jim Miller, W3C Lead for Technology and Society, worked with Sunrise Research Laboratory at RMIT to develop Australian Web Accessibility Initiative (OZeWAI).


1997 Internet Unplugged Professional

Disc contains “Unified Web Site Accessibility Guidelines”, Version 7.1 March 1997, compiled by Trace R and D Centre, University of Wisconsin – Madison. Also “Accessibility” from Canada’s Diversity Management Directorate, HTML 2.0 “Web Page Accessibility Self-Evaluation Test” and links to other resources. HTML 2.0 tutorials are by Catherine Stebbings and Peter Batchelor (Sunrise Research Laboratory) (reference to accessibility only on why CSS will be good (for vision impaired viewers). Alternate text for images is mentioned, to be added to IMG tag, with no explanation of why. Disc reference: CD-SRL2-97.

January 1998

Work on charter of WAI RC

WAI Rating/certification home page: “This is the WAI group that should deal with tools and practices like Bobby, Lynx-it, etc, used to check, evaluate, as well as improve access on the Web. (RC stands for “rating and certification” but this is somewhat inaccurate and the group is up for rename).” See archive of email list discussion.

25 January 1998

Notes to WAI IG email list

Overview of Interest Group online discussion (from Liddy Nevile, member of the PICS Working Group of W3C). See link in previous event.

14-18 April, 1998, Brisbane.

Panel at WWW7: Accessibility and universal design: advantages and impact for business, government and developers

Panelists: George Kerscher (Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, on assignment to the DAISY Consortium), Dr. Steven Lucas (Matchlogic, Inc.), Jutta Treviranus (Adaptive Technology Resource Centre, University of Toronto), Cynthia Waddell (City of San Jose, California, U.S.A.). See the original WWW7 website.

14-18 April, 1998, Brisbane.

Panel at WWW7: Web accessibility: technical and business challenges, implementation successes

Panelists: Daniel Dardailler (Web Accessibility Initiative, World Wide Web Consortium), Phill Jenkins (Accessibility Program Manager, IBM), Julia Schofield (JSC Ltd., Australia and JSC Ltd., U.K.), Jason White (WAI Technical/User Expert), Lauren Wood (SoftQuad, Inc.) See original website link in previous event.

18 April, 1998

WAI Groups meeting (at WWW7 Conference) Brisbane, Australia

Australians participating were Jason White, Liddy Nevile, Charles McCathieNevile and Gunela Astbrink, See the meeting agenda and photos of the group: whole group and partial group.

22 September 1998


Information open day at RMIT and CD with accessibility resources promoted. See the archived website, originally presented as a CD-ROM.

September 1998

‘e’ OZeWAI

An OZeKIDS Project CD – Published by the Sunrise Research Laboratory “Universal Web Accessibility for Australians”. See http://purl.nla.gov.au/sunrise/ozewai The disc only works as originally intended in ancient Windows XP boxes, but the files on it are accessible on a Mac. I recall that this was the disc that went out to people who attended the session in the basement lecture theatre. This disc includes Charles’ HTML 4.0 tutorial, and also videos showing various technologies in use.

February 2000

Future Oriented Research and Development (FORD) project

Launched by Telstra Research Labs, the project was led by Robert Pedlow with Peter Ostojic and Mat Mirabella as Human Factors Research Specialists. The project looked at issues faced by blind and vision impaired people when using web sites and related technologies.


Telstra’s Centre for Accessibility (CFA)

Centre continued until December 2005. The FORD project and then the CFA represents one of the very first efforts in corporate Australia to investigate and to address accessibility in a meaningful way within the context of business, design and development.

15-16 November 2000

International Web Accessibility Summit

Drawing participants from around the world, the two day Summit covered a variety of web accessibility issues including: current policy and regulation issues, implementation, current accessibility, and future directions of accessibility and the web. It was held at Caulfield Racecourse. Keynote speakers included: Sue Hoylen, Technical Manager Australian W3C Office; Graeme Innes, Deputy Disability Discrimintion Commissioner, Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission; Tom Worthington, Director, Tomw Communications; John McKenna, Chair – Web Accessibility Taskforce, Internet Industry Association; Karl Dubost, Conformance Manager W3C. See archived content from the Summit CD-ROM.

December 2000

WCAG WG meeting in Melbourne

Telstra hosted a face-to-face meeting of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group in Melbourne.

13-14 November, 2001

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group and WAI Interest Group joint meeting

See notes from the meeting, hosted by Telstra in Melbourne.

15-16 November 2001

OZeWAI Conference

Held at Rydges, Melbourne. Keynotes included: Lisa Seeman (Global Formats, Israel), Wendy Chisholm (W3C, USA), Charles McCathieNevile (W3C, France), Jason White (Co-chair, a W3C Accessibility Working Group). See the archived website for the 2001 conference.

27-29 November 2002

OZeWAI 2002

Held again at Rydges, Melbourne. Keynotes included: Dean Jackson (CSIRO/W3C), a graphics expert. Charles McCathieNevile (W3C, France), Jason White (Uni Melb), Co-Chair of the W3C WCAG WG. See the archived website for the 2002 conference.

1-3 December 2003

OZeWAI 2003

The theme was Multi-modal Content: flexible, re-useable and accessible, and the conference was held at La Trobe University. Keynotes included: Max Froumentin – W3C, Bob Regan – Macromedia, Katie Haritos-Shea – CESSI Accessible Solutions, Charles McCathieNevile – W3C – SWAD-E – SIDAR. Katie is Vice-Chair of INCITS V2 Technical Committee developing ISO International Standard for a universal remote console. See the 2003 conference website.

1-3 December, 2004

OZeWAI 2004

The theme was Accessibility: what can we do with what we’ve got? Held again at La Trobe University. Keynotes included: Jutta Treviranus, Director, Adaptive Technology Resource Centre (ATRC) University of Toronto, Chair: W3C ATAG Working Group; Dey Alexander, Usability Consultant, Monash University. See the 2004 conference website.

7-9 December 2005

OZeWAI 2005

The theme was How can we include everyone? and the location was La Trobe University again. Keynotes included: Helle Bjarnø, Videncenter for Synshandicap – Denmark; Paul Bohman, WebAIM – U.S.A.; Shawn Henry, W3C – USA; Charles McCathieNevile, Opera – Norway. See the 2005 conference site.

29 November – December 1, 2006

OZeWAI 2006

The theme was Are we making the best progress possible? and the location was La Trobe University. Keynotes included: Madeleine Rothberg, WGBH/NCAM, USA; Johann de Boer, ANZ Bank; and Andrew Arch, W3C. See the 2006 website.

5-7 December, 2007

OZeWAI 2007

For the fifth year the conference was held at La Trobe University. The theme was – Web 2.0 accessibility – is it getting easier? Are we more inclusive than before? Keynotes included: Roger Hudson, Web Usability; Russ Weakley, Australian Museum; Jon Mason, Intercog Pty Ltd; Tom Worthington, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. See the 2007 conference website.

21-23 January, 2009

OZeWAI 2009

This year it was back to Melbourne, with the conference located at Melbourne University. The theme was Realising the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The conference was coordinated with OZCHI 2009. See conference site for 2009.

1-3 December 2010

OZeWAI 2010

Keynote: Jacqui Begbie and Raven Calais, Accessibility and Style at Australian Government Information Management Office. See conference site for 2010.

28-30 November 2011

OZeWAI 2011

The theme was Making digital content more accessible to the community. Keynote speakers: Jason Kiss, Researcher and consultant at Accessible Culture; Silvia Pfeiffer, CEO at Vquence Pty Ltd; Jacqui Begbie, AGIMO, Australian Federal Government. See the 2011 website.

29-30 November, 2012

OZeWAI 2012

The theme was Web Adaptability for Inclusion. Keynote speaker: Shadi Abou-Zahra, W3C. See the 2012 website.

27-29 November, 2013

OZeWAI 2013

Keynote speakers: Gerardo Capiel, VP Engineering, Benetech; Charles Nevile, Yandex, W3C Advisory Board, schema.org, HTML5 Accessibility Chair. See the 2013 website.

8-10 December, 2014

OZeWAI 2014

Keynote speakers: Jacqui Van Teulingen, Digital Government Strategy (AGIMO). Other speakers included: Scott Hollier, Media Access Australia; Gian Wild, AccessibilityOz; Justin Brown, Edith Cowan University; Vivienne Conway, WebKeyIT. See the 2014 website.

25-27 November, 2015

OZeWAI 2015

See the 2015 website.

28-30 November, 2016

OZeWAI 2016

For details see the 2016 website.