On 5 May 1999, W3C announced the release of the "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" <http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT> specification as a W3C Recommendation. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines establish stable principles for accessible design, such as the need to provide equivalent alternatives for auditory and visual information. These guidelines not only make pages more accessible to people with disabilities, but also have the side benefit of making pages more accessible to all users, or to users using voice or text browsers, or one of the emerging handheld or voice-based computers.
The specification contains fourteen guidelines which are general principles of accessible design. Each guideline has associated "checkpoints" explaining how these 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. The checkpoints are also available as a prioritized checklist <http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT/full-checklist.html>, which
provides a handy tool for reviewing Web sites.
The guidelines are designed to be forward-compatible with evolving Web technologies, yet enable sites to degrade gracefully when confronted with legacy browsers. 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) are described in a parallel "Techniques" document <http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT-TECHS/>, to be updated periodically.
Each checkpoint is assigned one of three priority levels. Priority one is for checkpoints that a developer must satisfy, otherwise some groups of people will be unable to access information on a site; priority two a developer should satisfy or else it will be very difficult to access information; priority three a developer may satisfy otherwise some people will find it difficult to access information.
The specification defines three "conformance levels" to facilitate reference by other organizations. Conformance level "Single-A" includes priority one checkpoints; "Double-A" includes priority one and two; "Triple-A" includes priority one, two and three. For those whose pages follow the guidelines, logos are available which can be placed on their site to show conformance.
These guidelines address barriers in Web pages which people with physical, visual, hearing, and cognitive/neurological disabilities may encounter. Common accessibility problems on Web sites include: images without alternative text; lack of alternative text for imagemap hot-spots; misleading use of structural elements on pages; uncaptioned audio or undescribed video; lack of alternative information for users who cannot access frames or scripts; tables that are difficult to decipher when
linearized; or sites with poor color contrast.
Accessible Web sites can be just as creatively designed as inaccessible sites. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines address how to make a large variety of Web features accessible, rather than recommending that sites be text-only. The goal is to ensure that all kinds of Web sites, including
multimedia, work well for all users.
Many features of the guidelines actually improve usability of Web sites for non-disabled users, by ensuring that sites are more easily navigable, and that they can be accessed through a variety of different kinds of devices rather than only a traditional graphical desk-top browser.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines address one aspect of the accessibility equation -- how accessible the content on a site is. A second part of the equation is accessibility of browsers, which WAI is addressing that through the "User Agent Accessibility Guidelines," currently in Working Draft. A third part of the equation is accessibility of the authoring tools used to develop sites, addressed through the "Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines," also in Working Draft status. It is likely
that the release of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines will increase the demand for authoring tools that support development of accessible content.
In addition to guidelines development, WAI also works internally within W3C on ensuring that the technologies of the Web, such as HTML, CSS, SMIL, XML, DOM, etc., support accessibility. WAI coordinates with other organizations to develop tools which can assist in evaluation, and retrofitting pages and providing proxy solutions to support accessibility. WAI has an active education and outreach effort, and some activity coordinating with research and development which can affect future Web access. Additional information is available at http://www.w3.org/WAI.
Judy Brewer email@example.com +1.617.258.9741 http://www.w3.org/WAI
Director, Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) International Program Office World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
MIT/LCS Room NE43-355, 545 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA, 02139,
W3C is pleased to announce that HTTP/1.1, along with the accompanying authentication specification, has been approved by the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) as a IETF Draft Standard http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc2616.txt.
HTTP is the primary protocol of the Web, originally proposed by Tim Berners-Lee while he was at CERN. HTTP/1.0 was the first version of the HTTP that was widely used on the Internet. Although extremely popular, it had several significant performance issues that caused severe load problems on many parts of the Internet as Web use increased exponentially. The purpose of HTTP/1.1, first proposed by Roy Fielding while at ICS/University of California at Irvine, is to provide higher end-user performance while preserving the integrity and stability of the Internet using features including persistent connections, pipelining, caching, and IP address preservation.
As important, the HTTP Digest Authentication mechanism described in the accompanying HTTP Authentication specification, defines a method for authenticating a user to an HTTP server without exposing the user's password to potential eavesdroppers. This is an important step toward improving security on the Web.
Glimtar från den 8:e WWW konferensen, maj 99 i Toronto
Tim Berners-Lee blickade i sitt öppningtal vid den 8-de WWW konferensen i Toronto (maj 99) tillbaka på sin ursprungliga vision (access for all, a universal space, a cooperative workspace, independent of culture, language and platform, for use in real life, and machine understandable metadata). Han menade att de senaste årens utveckling i stort följt visionen och särskilt pekade på XLM Namespaces, RDF, and det nya Signed XML med Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) arbete som ersätter Dsig.
Tim lyfte fram två huvudfrågor för framtiden. Den första är behovet av gemensamma internationella standarder för digital kryptering, autenticering osv. Tyvärr verkar de flesta regeringar försöka att modifiera strukturer skapade på 1800 talet för att reglera den gränslösa värld som det 20de århundradet väntas leda till.
Den andra viktiga frågan var tillämpning av patentlagstiftningen, särskilt i USA. Ribban för att få ett programvarupatent godkänt ligger enl. Tim alldeles för lågt. Man söker och får patent på rena beskrivningar av existerande sociala och mekaniska förfaringssätt. Företagen tar fram uppsättningar av obegripliga sammanlänkade patentkedjor och tillämpar dem i sammanhang som inte alltid är uppenbara från originella patentansökningar. Man verkar göra för allt man kan för att få ett patent beviljade vilket bidrar till att skapa en marknad för rädsla, oskärhet och tvivel. Tim avslutade sitt föredrag med en uppmaning: "Dear community, please solve this problem".
The Intermind Patent
Patentfrågan kom också upp under Toronto W3C Advisory Committee Meeting. Den 19 de januari 1999 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) beviljade U.S. patent No 5,862,325 till Intermind. Patentet täcker användning av metadata för att styra informationsutbyte på Internet. Patentet omfattar 200 sidor och har 126 krav som illustreras av 47 bilder.
Intermind formulerar för närvarande "a progressive licensing program designed to promote the rapid growth of communications object technology."
W3C är bekymrat över att Intermind patent hotar öppen tillgång till W3C:s privacy protection technology, the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P). Intermind har redan indikerat att P3P troligen bryter mot deras patent. W3C har påbörjat en undersökning av giltigheten och tillämpbarheten av Interminds patent och söker därför information rörande programvara eller system som är äldre än Interminds patent.
An automated communications system operates to transfer data, metadata and methods from a provider computer to a consumer computer through a communications network. The transferred information controls the communications relationship, including responses by the consumer computer, updating of information, and processes for future communications. Information which changes in the provider computer is automatically updated in the consumer computer through the communications system in order to maintain continuity of the relationship. Transfer of metadata and methods permits intelligent processing of information by the consumer computer and combined control by the provider and consumer of the types and content of information subsequently transferred. Object oriented processing is used for storage and transfer of information. The use of metadata and methods further allows for automating may of the actions underlying the communications, including communication acknowledgements and archiving of information. Service objects and partner servers provide specialized data, metadata, and methods to providers and consumers to automate many common communications services and transactions useful to both providers and consumers. A combination of the provider and consumer programs and databases allows for additional functionality, including coordination of multiple users for a single database.
Abstract of Intermind US Patent 5,862,325
Yuri Rubinsky Award
This year's Yuri Rubinsky Award winner was Richard Stallman. Now that it has been running a few years, it was possible to get the previous award winners (Doug Engelbart, Vint Cerf, Gregg Vanderheiden and Ted Nelson) to select this year's winner .
Richard Stallman in 1984 developed the operating system GNU, which was the first major example of free software. Today, Linux-based variants of the GNU system, based on the Linux kernel developed by Linus Torvalds, are in widespread use. There are over 10 million users of GNU/Linux systems today. In 1998 he received the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer award along with Linus Torvalds.
Stallman's has been advocating for many years that instead of using proprietary software we should use free software that can be interchanged as we wish. It is his pioneering work in this area that gained him the Yuri Rubinsky Award.
Richard Stallman: Yuri Rubinsky Award Winner
Richard Stallman, in accepting the Award, took up Tim's message that something needed to be done about software patents. He pointed out that in June the European Union is planning to legalize software patents in Europe. No study has been done concerning the economic impact of legalising software patents and such a decision would be a major threat to the Web and free software. He urged everybody to look at the site: http://www.freepatents.org/
Best Paper Award
The best Paper Award this year was split into two with a prize for the best paper reviewed and a second prize for the best presentation. The two award Winners were:
"Focused Crawling: A New Approach for Topic-Specific Resource Discovery" by Soumen Chakrabati, Martin van den Berg, Byron Dom.
Given a pre-defined set of topics, the Focused Crawler analyses its crawl boundary to find the links that are likely to be most relevant for its crawl and avoids regions that it thinks are likely to be less productive. The crawler tries to identify hubs (pages with lots of relevant links as these often turn out to be authorities on the topic). Workers explore the crawl boundary and a watchdog keeps them under control. The paper contains a great deal of statistics to back up its claims with regard to relevance and robustness.
Mary Fernandez, presenting "A Query Language for XML" by Alin Deutsch, Mary Fernandez, Daniela Florescu, Alon Levy, Dan Suciu.
XML-QL is a query language for extracting data from XML documents. Mary is a researcher at AT&T:s Shannon Lab. Her research interests and project's focus on improving software development through the design of very high-level and special-purpose programming languages and the development of tools for their efficient implementation.
Mary Fernandez: Best Presentation Award Winner
WWW9: Amsterdam: 15-19 May 2000
The World-Wide Web Conference returns to Europe in the Milennium year. It will take place at the main RAI Conference Centre on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Ivan Herman and Dick Bulterman of CWI, the home of the W3C Netherland's Office, will be organising the Programme.