Panel Session On "Web Accessibility: Will WCAG 2.0 Better Meet Today's Challenges?"

This page outlines ideas for a panel session at the WWW 2003 conference.

Web Accessibility: Will WCAG 2.0 Better Meet Today's Challenges?

W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has been successful in raising awareness of Web accessibility on an international basis. However, although there is widespread awareness of the issues, many communities find the implementation of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG 1.0) difficult. We are increasingly hearing people argue that although WAI has been effective in promoting adoption of WCAG 1.0, it fails to address the challenges of bugs in browsers; it is difficult to test for conformance; and it needs to be easier to use and understand. In addition, some feel that the accessibility of Web resources can be addressed by use of proprietary formats, such as PDF and Flash -- areas which are traditionally out-of-scope for the W3C.

This panel session will provide a critique of the WCAG 1.0 based on feedback from one user community in the UK. Members of W3C/WAI will respond by describing changes in the latest draft version of WCAG 2.0 and by elaborating on other improvements, such as the addressing of more advanced Web technologies. In addition, W3C/WAI representatives will discuss plans for implementation testing of WCAG 2.0 during the W3C Candidate Recommendation period; ask the audience's feedback on early demonstration sites; and explain how the audience can become involved in implementation testing. Members of the audience will have the opportunity to discuss whether the new guidelines have adequately addressed concerns, and to further raise issues.


All Slides
[PowerPoint format] - [HTML format] - [Accessible HTML format]
Introduction Slides
[PowerPoint format] - [HTML format] - [Accessible HTML format]
Brian Kelly's Slides
[PowerPoint format] - [HTML format] - [Accessible HTML format]
Jenny Craven's Slides
[PowerPoint format] - [HTML format] - [Accessible HTML format]

The panelists include:

Brian Kelly, UKOLN, University of Bath, UK
Brian is an adviser to UK Universities and FE colleges on Web issues. Brian has recently carried out a survey of the accessibility of UK University entry points and has run workshops on accessibility policies for JISC Services and at the University of Nottingham. He has given many presentations on a range of Web topics. He particularly favours interactive sessions, and recently took part on a debate on the contentious issue of open source software.
Phone: +44 1225 383943
FAX: +44 1225 386838
Position Statement: Many organisations which agree with the aims of WAI have found implementation of a number of the WAI guidelines difficult. There appears to be a feeling that WAI guidelines can be too theoretical, costly to implement across existing large scale Web sites, or in conflict with certain usability requirements. In addition, due to WAI's links with the W3C and the W3C's commitment to open standards, it fails to acknowledge the compromises which user organisations may have to adopt in making use of proprietary formats.
Jenny Craven, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
Jenny Craven is a Research Associate in the Centre for Research in Library and Information Management (CERLIM), based at Manchester Metropolitan University. Jenny worked on the British Library and JISC funded REsources for Visually Impaired users of the Electronic Library (REVIEL) project which explored the accessibility of library OPACs and other electronic library services. She has led a supporting study for Disability and Information Systems in Higher Education (DISinHE) which investigated awareness and use of accessibility design standards in UK higher education. Jenny has just completed the Resource funded NOn-Visual Access to the digital library (NoVA) project which looked at the information seeking behaviour of blind and visually impaired users in Web-based search interfaces.
Jenny has been involved in running a number of workshops on accessibility issues, and, at the time of writing, is preparing a trip to Chile where she will run a session on the accessibility of public library Web sites.
Phone: +44 161 247 6142
Fax: +44 161 247 6979
Position Statement: WAI has done a great job in raising the importance of the issues, and, in conjunction with other W3C groups, developing a rich, interoperable and accessible range of formats. However, although awareness of Web accessibility is increasing, when governments seek to enforce accessibility through legislation there may be risks: users may still be faced with usability problems when trying to navigate around 'accessible' Web sites; it may be difficult to keep legislation in synch with updates to WAI guidelines; legislators may interpret WAI guidelines incorrectly; etc.
Judy Brewer
Judy Brewer is Director of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Judy joined the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in September 1997 as Domain Leader for the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and Director of the WAI International Program Office. She coordinates five areas of work for W3C with regard to Web accessibility: ensuring that W3C technologies (HTML, CSS, SMIL, XML, etc.) support accessibility; developing accessibility guidelines for Web content, user agents, authoring tools, and XML applications; developing tools for evaluation and repair of Web sites; conducting education and outreach on Web accessibility solutions; and monitoring research and development which may impact the future accessibility of the Web.
Phone: +1.617.258.9741
FAX: +1.617.258.5999
Position Statement: The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG 1.0) has been adopted by governments and businesses in many countries around the world, improving access to information for people with disabilities for whom the Web is a critical resource. WCAG 1.0 is one of four W3C/WAI guidelines which form a complementary suite of guidance for content developers, application developers, and Web language developers. The breakthrough in ease-of-use for Web developers will come when W3C/WAI's Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) are integrated into mainstream software used to build Web sites, so that the production of accessible Web content will become largely automatic. Harmonisation of Web accessibility standards (international adoption of a common standard for Web accessibility) is the key driver of ATAG implementation in authoring tools. Active participation of the broader Web community in developing and refining an improved WCAG 2.0 will help ensure full international support and adoption, which will in turn expand the market for ATAG-conformant authoring tools, thereby accelerating their more rapid development and availability to Web content developers.
Wendy Chisholm
Wendy Chisholm's primary responsibilities in the W3C in the Web Accessibility Initiative are (a) staff contact and co-editor for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group; (b) staff contact and co-editor for the Evaluation and Repair Tools Working Group and (c) staff contact for the Research and Development Interest Group. Before joining the W3C in October 1999, Wendy was a human factors engineer at the Trace R & D Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison researching the accessibility of evolving Web technologies and Java. Wendy co-edited the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0. & 2.0
Phone: +1.617.253.2613
Position Statement: WCAG 1.0 evolved from efforts in the Web community to increase awareness of accessibility and provide guidance to Web content developers.  As a W3C Recommendation, it has been widely adopted and continues to be a stable and useful reference for making Web content accessible. Since the publication of WCAG 1.0, Web technologies have become richer and the W3C process has become more rigorous. The intent in developing WCAG 2.0 is to make WCAG more usable by a wider audience and more applicable to new and future technologies.


Brian Kelly will report on surveys of accessibility of UK University Web sites and the difficulties encountered by Universities in formulating and implementing accessibility policies. Jenny Craven will expand on this theme by reviewing usability issues in accessing "accessibility" Web sites.

Judy Brewer and Wendy Chisholm will provide more information about current implementation support resources (both technical and practical) for WCAG 1.0, and respond to concerns about WCAG 1.0 ease-of-use by outlining the latest draft of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, and describing how members of the audience may participate in implementation testing.

The panelists recognise the need to avoid using the session as an opportunity to simply give presentations. The panelists will seek to ensure that the session provides an interactive experience and will explore techniques for doing this if the proposal is accepted. The panelists have all organised workshop sessions in different countries and are aware of cultural and languages issues which need to be addressed in interactive sessions.