HTML and CSS Reference
tive role in developing recommendations and prototype technologies related to the Web.
Four major areas that the W3C addresses are Web architecture, user interface, technol-
ogy and society, and the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) . In an effort to standardize
Web technologies, the W3C produces specifications called recommendations.
The W3C Recommendations are created in working groups with input from many
major corporations involved in building Web technologies. These recommendations are
not rules; they are guidelines. Major software companies that build Web browsers, such
as Microsoft and Netscape, do not always follow the W3C Recommendations. This
makes life difficult for Web developers because not all browsers will display a Web page
in exactly the same way.
The good news is that there is a convergence toward the W3C Recommendations in
new versions of major browsers. There are even organized groups such as The Web
Standards Project, http://webstandards.org, whose mission is to promote W3C
Recommendations (often called Web standards) not only to the creators of browsers but
also to Web developers and designers.
Focus on Accessibility
The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), http://www.w3.org/WAI/ , is a major area of
work by the W3C. Since the Web has become an integral part of daily life, there is a
need for all individuals to be able to access it. According to Tim Berners-Lee at
http://www.w3.org/WAI/, “The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by every-
one regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”
The Web can present barriers to individuals with visual, auditory, physical, and neuro-
logical disabilities. The WAI has developed recommendations for Web content develop-
ers, Web authoring tool developers, Web browser developers, and developers of other
user agents to facilitate use of the Web by those with special needs. See the WAI's Web
Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) at http://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG20/
quickref/ for a list of these recommendations.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is a Federal civil rights law that
prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. The ADA requires that busi-
ness, federal, and state services are accessible to individuals with disabilities. A 1996
Department of Justice ruling, http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/foia/cltr204.txt, indicated that
ADA accessibility requirements apply to Internet resources.
Section 508 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act was amended in 1998 to require that U.S.
government agencies give individuals with disabilities access to information technology
that is comparable to the access available to others. This law requires developers creating
information technology (including Web pages) for use by the federal government to pro-
vide for accessibility . The Federal IT Accessibility Initiative, http://www.section508.gov,
provides accessibility requirement resources for information technology developers. In
recent years, state governments have also begun to encourage and promote Web accessi-
bility. The Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act (IITAA) guidelines,
example of this trend.
Forward-thinking Web developers design with accessibility in mind. Providing access for
visitors with visual, auditory, and other challenges should be an integral part of Web
design rather than an afterthought.