Focus on Electronic Information No. 99-06

Date: June 1999

Subject: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Released

On May 5, 1999, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
announced the release of the Web Content Accessibility
Guidelines 1.0 specification as a W3C recommendation.  Being
a W3C recommendation means that the specification is stable;
contributes to the universality of the Web; and has been
reviewed by the W3C membership, who recommend it as the
means for making Web sites accessible.  W3C, the standard-
setting body for WWW activities, now encourages information
providers to raise their level of accessibility using this

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines include fourteen
guidelines for accessible design, such as the provision of
equivalent alternatives to visual information.  Each
guideline has associated "checkpoints" explaining how the
accessibility principles apply to specific features of
sites.  For example, providing alternative text for images
ensures that information is available to a person who cannot
see images.  Providing captions for audio files makes
information available to someone who cannot hear audio.  A
parallel "Techniques" document, to be updated periodically,
contains specifics on how to implement the checkpoints with
the latest versions of mark-up or presentation languages
such as HTML, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), or SMIL
(Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language).

The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by
developing common protocols that promote its evolution and
ensure its interoperability.  It is an international
industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for
Computer Science in the USA, the National Institute for
Research in Computer Science and Control in France, and Keio
University in Japan.  Services provided by the consortium
include: a repository of information about the World Wide
Web for developers and users, reference code implementations
to embody and promote standards, and various prototype and
sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology.
To date, over 320 organizations are members of the

__Web Accessibility Initiative__