Web accessibility: technical and business challenges, implementation successes


Judy Brewer (Web Accessibility Initiative International Program Office, World Wide Web Consortium)


Judy Brewer (Web Accessibility Initiative International Program Office, World Wide Web Consortium),


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.)

Panelist perspectives:

Daniel Dardailler (W3C Web Accessibility Initiative),
The World Wide Web is fast becoming the repository of preference for on-line information, and yet the rich media (graphics, audio/video-based) technology of the Web has inadvertently created barriers for people with disabilities.  The W3C guides the evolution of the Web's core protocols and has taken on a leadership role in removing these accessibility barriers.  W3C's position is clear: all Recommendations we issue should meet or exceed established accessibility goals.

Phill Jenkins (IBM Accessibility Program Manager),
We need to look at the various implementation options, successes, and challenges of the Web.  For example: screen readers vs. speaking browsers, Microsoft's Active Accessibility vs. Sun's Java Accessibility, and Universal Design vs. accessible software.  Also successes such as accessible IBM Web sites, accessible IBM technologies, and adoption of accessibility guidelines inside IBM.  We should consider the challenges of designing access for ever-evolving technologies, constantly diverging strategies of information access and presentation, and the complexities of mixed hardware and software platforms.

Julia Schofield (JSC Ltd.),
Julia Schofield will discuss usability issues in  making on-line multimedia services accessible, simple and effective for the general public.

Jason White (WAI Technical Expert)
With cooperation from W3C and software developers, technical standards can be set and implemented which have the potential to improve the accessibility of the Web for people with disabilities.  Given further cooperation from content providers in complying with Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) guidelines and W3C technical standards, a much more accessible Web is to be expected.  However, lack of commitment from any of these three groups would frustrate attainment of this goal.

Lauren Wood (Technical Product Manager, SoftQuad)
Lauren Wood will examine the implementation experience of SoftQuad in building accessibility prompting and validation into their HotMetal Pro authoring tool.

Panel description

While the technical challenges of the Web are being addressed through a variety of approaches, including the technical activity of the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative, additional challenges will emerge in the future.  What can we learn from implementation successes to date?  What variables contribute to the successful adoption of accessibility guidelines for browsers, authoring tools, and content development; and to full implementations of the accessibility improvements in the core technologies of the Web?  What resources are available to ease the transition to accessible design and development?

This panel will address technical issues in implementing Web accessibility.  Panelists will debate to what extent the Web can become accessible; whether HTML 4.0 and CSS2 adequately address technical barriers to accessibility; what additional technical improvements are needed to make the Web fully accessible; to what extent the WAI Accessibility Guidelines or other Web accessibility guidelines are likely to be broadly implemented; what the future holds with regard to Java accessibility; and what are key research initiatives to track with regard to user interface innovations.

Panelists will examine the technical challenges of Web accessibility from a variety of viewpoints.  Daniel Dardailler, W3C WAI Project Manager will provide an update on technical issues under consideration and progress to date in the Web Accessibility Initiative. Phill Jenkins, IBM Accessibility Program Manager, will explore current and future issues including implementation of accessibility in mixed-platform situations and how developments in Java will affect accessibility of the Web.  Jason White, a technical and user expert on several of the WAI Working Groups, will examine the adequacy of the current approaches and the extent of manufacturer's commitments to implementation.  Lauren Wood, from SoftQuad, will examine the implementation experience of developing the first authoring tool to incorporate accessibility prompting and validation.  Julia Schofield will discuss usability issues in  making on-line multimedia services accessible, simple and effective for the general public.

Audience participation will be strongly encouraged.  Panelists will discuss questions including: