After three years in the making, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has issued guidelines for designing browsers, multimedia players and other web software that will make the internet more accessible to people with disabilities.
The W3C has published the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) 1.0 informing developers that the technical report, first issued as a working draft in June 1998, is now considered stable and mature enough for implementation.
UAAG 1.0 explains how keyboard navigation, control over multimedia rendering, configuration options, communication with specialised software such as speech synthesisers or screen magnifiers, and other user interface capabilities can assist people with visual, hearing, physical, cognitive and neurological disabilities.
For example, required keyboard support will benefit people who cannot use a mouse, such as those with blindness or a physical disability.
Jon Gunderson, chairman of the UAAG Working Group, and professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said the group is now asking developers to implement the software accessibility guidelines.
He pointed out that developers, such as Adobe, IBM, Microsoft, Netscape and Sun Microsystems, have already been reviewing the latest recommendations.
The W3C has focused on five activities that include ensuring that web technology supports accessibility, developing accessibility guidelines and co-ordinating tool development for the evaluation and repair of websites.
It is also working on co-ordinating its research and development efforts, as well as implementing education and outreach policies.
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