Web Accessibility 3.0

I previously mentioned a joint paper on “Redefining Accessibility for a Web 2.0 World” which has been accepted for the ADDW08 conference to be held at the University of York on 22-24th September 2008. David Sloan, the lead author for the paper, will present this paper.

In addition to this paper Liddy Nevile and myself have had a paper on “Web Accessibility 3.0: Learning From The Past, Planning For The Future” also accepted at the ADDW08 conference. This paper describes three scenarios: it explores the limitations of a vision for Web accessibility based on use of the WAI approach to provide “universal accessibility” and then describes the limitations of the “holistic approach to Web accessibility” developed initially by myself, Lawrie Phipps and David Sloan. The paper describes how these approaches focus on, in the first scenario, on the accessibility of individual resources and, in the second scenario, on institutional approaches to enhancing the accessibility of the purposes of the Web services. However neither of these approaches seems to have much relevance to the accessibility of the globally popular Web 2.0 services. And if we are serious about Web accessibility we should be looking at the accessibility of the global World Wide Web, and not just individual resources or the resources managed within our institutions.

But how should be go about addressing such large-scale challenges? In the paper we suggest that we should be exploring how the relationships between resources might help to provide users with access to related resources and how personalisation approaches might provide users with access to resources which are accessible to the individual user, rather than being universally accessible. The vision, Liddy and I feel, can be regarded as an implementation of the W3C’s vision for the Semantic Web. But we also argue the need to have the scepticism which failed to be applied to WAI’s model for Web accessibility.  

The slides which will be presented at the conference are available on Slideshare and are embedded below.

And as we argued the need for a critical approach to proposals for Web accessibility (which we have taken in the past to the limitations of the WAI model and the WCAG guidelines) we invite your comments on our paper and this presentation.


  1. Interesting….

    There are two interpretations of the word accessibility.

    With my web-page-creator hat on, accessibility means that the page of data I have created “works” (ie, provides equal functionality) for all users – to which I add the backside-saving caveat of “who are using a web-standard compliant browser of some type“: If you are using a Braille reader, or an aural browser, or something that taps out morse-code on the end of your nose… you should get contents of the page, and the functionality to use it.
    There should be no discrimination.
    If the site is a collection of images, I don’t care if you can’t see the actual pictures, but the navigation should all work

    With my web-service-provider hat on, accessibility means that any APIs I use to provide machine-to-machine communication need to be well documented, preferably using someone else’s standard or encoding.
    The only complication to Open Access is that Open does not mean Free, so my interfaces may well need to deal with authorisation and authentication

    I believe you are talking about the latter, however I usually think of the former when I hear the term accessibility in relation to the web.

  2. The paper describes how machine-to-machine communication – which might be based on APIs, but could also use heuristic approaches, exploit ‘the wisdom of crowds’ (as Google page rank algorithm does), use metadata provided by the content creator or by others, etc. – might be applied to enrich the accessibility of resources to people (although I would argue that we should be supporting accessibility for people who may be using browsers found in the real world and not just browsers which may be UAAG-compliant and pass the ACID2 test.)

  3. although I would argue that we should be supporting accessibility for people who may be using browsers found in the real world and not just browsers which may be UAAG-compliant and pass the ACID2 test

    I don’t disagree with you.

    Professionally, I do two things:
    1) I try to create pages which conform to a defined level of validity (they are XML documents, and conform to a defined DTD)
    2) I test rendering against the browsers which appear in my log files, with more than 2% of the total traffic. I also test with CSS disabled, Images disabled, and ECMAScript (aka Javascript) disabled… this should cover 99+% of cases.

    My basic aim to to create something which does not discriminate, looks good to the majority of users, and where failure to render can be attributed to someone else.



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