WAI-CooP First open meeting

WAI-CooP First open meeting

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Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to this first meeting of the Web Accessibility Initiative Committees of Practice Project. My name is Alejandro Moledo, I'm Head of Policy at the European Disability Forum. Next slide, please. Thank you. Before we start, I'd like to welcome you all and go through the housekeeping rules, that I guess by now you all know.

All participants are muted to avoid background noise. And, please, use the chatbox for technical questions. Our colleague Raquel will reply to you. For those questions related to the content or the presentations, please use the questions and answer function of Zoom.

You can find it on the menu below. And then, to ask for the floor, use also in the functions of Zoom, the raising hand function, which shortcut is Alt + Y. This event is also recorded, and will be publically available on the website of the project and The EDF's website. Next slide, please. As for the accessibility features of today's event, you can find the real-time captioning in English, but also in other languages, such as French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese on automatic translation.

You can use it to see the live caption, the function of closed caption in Zoom, but also through an external link that has been pasted in the chatbox. Then, we also have in every EDF event interpretation in international sign language, for which you can also multipin the screens of the interpreters with the option available in zoom. If you have any questions, please ask our colleague, Raquel, in the chatbox. Next slide, please.

So, for today's meeting, today's event, we want you to know about this project. This is the first open meeting of the WAI-CooP project. After this welcoming, and the words from the European Commission that will go into them in a moment, we'll go through the project overview and the different objectives of the project concerning resource collection, the technology trends tracking, and community of exchange and then we will conclude with wrap up and conclusions. Next slide, please.

So, as part of this welcoming, we would like to play a video recording by the Head of Unit of the European Commission responsible for the Web Accessibility Directive. This is June Lowery-Kingston. I think we can play the video. Raquel? ALEJANDRO: Just a second. RAQUEL: Just a second. Yes. RAQUEL: One second, please. ALEJANDRO: It's coming.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, it's my great pleasure to be part of the first open meeting of the WAI-CooP project. As many of you may know, 23rd of June is a date with special significance, not just because it's a Luxembourg holiday, but today marks an important deadline under the Web Accessibility Directive. As of today, all public sector mobile applications across the EU have to be accessible for persons with disabilities according to a common definition of accessibility requirements. I'm glad to see that you've chosen today for this auspicious meeting. The Web Directive, even if it's still at an early stage of implementation, it's a game-changer for a wider take on Web Accessibility.

Before the application of this directive, less than 10% of websites in the EU were accessible. At the end of this year, we'll receive the reports from the Member States on the implementation if the directive in the public sector. We're confident of seeing significant progress. Because adopting a law gives us the framework for ensuring equal treatment and creating a level playing field for industry through the common harmonized standards, but implementing the law, turning those words into actions requires a huge effort from many different people all across the EU. I'd like to thank everyone involved in implementing the Web Accessibility Directive and in making a difference in digital accessibility in the public sector.

We are delighted now that Wai-Coop project is under way to support and expand this dedicated community. So what do we do next? Well, the Commission is already working on the review of the web Accessibility Directive. And the findings will be available publically next June. As I mentioned the Member States have to report on the implementation of the Directive by December this year.

And these reports will feed into the review. But the core of the review is to gather and analyze broader evidence from a wide arrange of contacts from the public and from all the different profiles involved in digital web accessibility. We want to identify what has changed because of the directive. Are there still gaps in what is needed? What is the impact of recent technological advances? So our public consultation will run from early July to early October And it will collect evidence and data online to evaluate retrospectively the implementation of the directive. Now given the specific format of an EU formal review, the questionnaire addresses five evaluation criteria: effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, coherence and the EU added value. It will be accompanied by different targeted consultations with many of you present in your specific roles as public sector bodies, as industry, as training service providers, and organizations representing persons with disabilities to name but a few.

So, I encourage you, whether you'll be subject to the targeted consultation or not to fill in the online questionnaire which will be published on the EU have your say portal if all EU languages and promoted via Social Media at betterNet4EU is our particular Twitter hashtag. EDF will certainly share that. The portal and the questionnaire will be accessible in 24 languages. If you experience accessibility issues then, please let us know. And for the first time we think this questionnaire will be accompanied by a simpler and shorter easy-to-read version also in the 24 official languages.

The Web Accessibility Directive is just one piece of a much larger jigsaw puzzle of the EC's legislation to support persons with disabilities. And this is what is meant by assessing the coherence of the Web Accessibility Directive with other EU legislation, such as the Europ... Excuse me, the European Accessibility Act and the requirements under the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, the European Electronic Communications Code and so on, they all contribute to creating a regulatory environment framework that makes the EU fit for the digital age.

Now we all know that web accessibility is a moral obligation enshrined on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to which the EU and all Member States are part of. But it is also a matter of political will. Under this commission and this president who appointed the first-ever commissioner for Equality, that political commitment is very visible. As our president said at the start of the mandate on the guidelines a prosperous and social Europe depends on us all.

We need equality for all and equality in all its senses. In that context, the European Disability Strategy adopted in March is setting out the course for the ten years. And itself is entitled a union of equality: the European Strategy for Persons with Disabilities.

Its priorities include accessibility in the digital and physical environment. Also mainstreaming of disability issues throughout the Commission's work. So as examples of how equality is being mainstreamed, I'd like to mention two recent connected developments, the recently adopted regulation laying down harmonized rules on artificial intelligence, the world's first-ever legal framework for AI.

The mandatory requirements proposed in the draft regulation of all high-risk AI systems to be properly designed, tested and used to avoid bias and discriminatory impacts. AI systems must be technically robust and accurate to guarantee that the technology is fit for purpose and that negative results do not disproportionately affect specific groups, including persons with disabilities, or by age or by racial or ethnic origin. On the first of June, The Commission also adopted our vision for Europe's digital transformation by 2030.

The digital compass 2030 setting the roadmap for the digital decade like a compass with North, South, East and West, our European strategy has four cardinal points: digital skills, infrastructure, business, and the public sector. And it sets ambition targets on all foul front, targets that will be closely monitored. First of all, skills. By 2030 we seek to have 20 million IT specialists employed in the EU, up from the present level of 7.8 million.

And surely that must include more specialists and more specialized courses in accessibility given the job opportunities that accessibility offers. Secondly, infrastructures, by 2030 we want gigabit connectivity for all households and 5G in all cities and villages across European Union. For the digital transformation business by 2033, out of four companies should be using cloud, big data and AI. And fourthly, digital public services, and here, three targets relevant to those with disabilities.

100% of online services for the public sector. By 2030, EU citizens should have access to electronic health records and 80% of EU citizens should use a digital identity. These are all clearly relevant targets for our particular field. All digital identity solutions will use the same accessibility standards as those set in the Accessibility Act.

This compass is to be accompanied by seat of digital principles, another important open consultation running online now until September which I strongly suggest you contribute and have a look at concerning those digital principles. But do we walk the talk? Do we, as institutions follow up our lofty ambitions when it comes [INAUDIBLE] We recruit and treat our own staff and how we interact with the public. Although the Web Accessibility Directive doesn't apply directly to the institutions themselves, those institutions are warmly encouraged to comply and here things are moving in the right direction.

The communication, better regulation, joining forces to make better laws was adopted in late April 2021, and it makes an explicit reference to EU strategy to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and states: We are also making a portal, meaning the Have Your Say portal, more accessible to persons with disabilities. And so, I'm happy to confirm that the Commission is, at this very moment, committed and absolutely working so websites and mobile apps can be used by as many people as possible. There is an internal task force for the first time bringing together the services involved to make this change happen. The new web content management system enables Commission's departments to create an accessible website in a few days. However, applying accessibility across all our online information will take time given the huge amount of webpages under the .eu, the Commission itself manages over 800 different websites, but yes, we are getting there, we rely on you to point out where we're not doing well, and to signal to us the areas where you think we should be focusing on.

I'd like to finish with a few words about the WAI-CooP project. This community of practice, funded by the European Commission under the framework programme of Horizon 2020. This project supports the implementation of international standards by digital accessibility by establishing vendor-neutral overviews on available training, tools and resources by analyzing technology advances and coordinating with relevant research and relevant services, and providing opportunities for key stakeholders like you here, to share resources and to exchange best practice. WAI-CooP will achieve this by building on existing welfare resources and authority of guidance available from the W3C Web Accessible Initiative and will provide a one-stop-shop for anyone involved in implementing digital accessibility. Seeing the list of speakers today, I'm sure this first open meeting will be a very successful start to the project. I wish you all a very constructive meeting, and I thank you for your great and your ongoing work on digital accessibility.

Thank you. ALEJANDRO: Many thanks to the European Commission and to June and her team for sending this comprehensive overview on what The Commission has done and is currently doing to increase the inclusion of their technology tools, their website, their communication, their materials. From EDF this project is an opportunity to increase the capacity of all stakeholders and rightholders, persons with disabilities and their representative organization, Member States, public bodies, public authorities, services providers providing key services for citizens, experts, industry, in the end for us the web Accessibility directive is a milestone, because for many years the Disability movement was campaigning to have not just soft commitments to, you know, we will increase the accessibility of our website by 2010, in the end, we understood that only by coordinated approach, a stronger approach to web Accessibility we could achieve this goal of having an inclusive digital public sector for persons with disabilities and with the pandemic, and the sudden transition to more and more online services, we see how this actually reinforces the need of having more structural approach to accessibility, which in our view must be a core aspect of all technologies. And in this journey the Web Accessibility Directive was the first important milestone, and as June explained now, we have a more robust legal framework with the Accessibility Act, the Audiovisual Media Service Directive, the Electronics Communication Code, with the different disability standards that have been put in place. In all this journey, if I made the collaboration with W3C has been fundamental to reach these goals and legislations And, I wouldn't like to take more time, and I would like to pass the floor directly to, as I've heard many times, a living legend of accessibility in Europe, to Shadi Abou-Zahra, Accessibility strategy and Technology Specialist. And also Web Accessibility Initiative in the worldwide web consortium.

It's been a pleasure to work with him and with the rest of the partners and I'm sure this project will gather momentum and will increase the availability of resources and materials, so we create this community of practice for better and more inclusive web and digital accessibility in Europe. Shadi, look at us now, after all these years, reaching the deadlines of the directive and talking about implementation, which is what really matters, right? SHADI: Right, back at you. Thank you for the kind words and introduction, and also to June for the big picture, the overview of the different puzzle pieces as she says the Commission is working on and internationally the developments happening in the field of accessibility that we need to pay attention to.

It's an amazing pleasure to be working with EDF and other partners. I'll be introducing the individual partners and the people in the project as they come on. I'll try not the take more time introducing people.

Just to come back, this project is a piece in this big jigsaw puzzle, focusing on helping those who apply the web Accessibility directive. There is a lot of resources outside that are available trainings, certifications, tools, many resources that can help you implement digital Accessibility in different areas but often we see public agencies, suppliers to public agencies not knowing about these resources, not knowing where to start with accessibility, how to do, how to apply things, that's one footing of the project, one key aspect of this is to collect these resources and try to make them more available to it's easier to find for those who are starting on accessibility. The other thing is, accessibility is part of technology and is an evolving thing, it doesn't stop. And new technologies come on, new challenges arise, some things get resolved, others pop up new. We cannot talk about accessibility as a static thing without continually researching the advancements. For example, there are often discussions about, let's say, automatic captioning.

Is this ready enough, accurate enough? Will it be in five years, ten years? What do we do with complex images like maps and so on? How can we make these accessible? So we need to keep looking at the evolvement in research and development to answer the questions about how can we apply things. And last, but not least, the third footing of this project is to have an exchange with the community, like this today. But in future, we won't be talking heads introducing the project, it'll be much more you, the attendees talking. We want to do best practices exchanges and bringing people together, bringing knowledge together and these will be introduced later on today by the project partners. Yeah. Just quickly look at these objectives in a little bit more detail, what do we mean by connecting resources and making them available? One main part of this is accessibility training and certification there are different initiatives and developments happening worldwide.

We have the Web Accessibility curricula being developed at the W3C, which could be a reference so that we can compare different training, certifications, what do the different things offer so that we can compile a list and provide this as a searchable list, so you can find suitable training and certification for you or your staff. We also have a list of evaluation tools that has come into the years, there are many tools with different kinds of functionality. And so we want to revise this list from the ground up with more search functionality. Again, we ask for your input. W3C is an open space where we work with the public, we ask for your input, your suggestions help us improve things, what type of search functionalities, what type of resources work for you in your context, so please let us know. We have a collection of laws and policies, we want to update these in the European context, there'll be more information about these pieces later on.

I'm giving you an overview on the project, but in the next session, we'll go into these objectives in more detail. One piece that will not be discussed or introduced later on because it's not part of the project but in the context of this. There's a separate funding that W3C has called the WAI guide project from the EC and here we're developing a list of authoring tools that support accessibility.

We know how fundamental accessibility authoring tools are, the tools to create content, it could be a content management system, it could even be a word processor, Social Media, online healthcare records for example now, everybody wanting to download their corona pass or whatever. These are kinds of authoring tools you provide information to the public. The more these support accessibility, the more without these it'd be difficult to achieve accessibility. That is also happening, and this is kind of the synergy effect of having this work happening inside the W3C groups. The second objective I mentioned technology tracking, here, one of the key areas is to look at the information on harmonized accessibility testing.

We've been doing a lot of work with the European Commission funding on Accessibility Conformance Testing, ACT, you'll hear more about that later, where we try to have uniform interpretation of accessibility in different tools and methodologies. And in this project, we want to track the implementation of these ACT rules and see the evolution, the impact, in terms of harmonized ways of testing. Because essentially, what we want is different people test the same thing that they come to the same conclusion or result. Otherwise, we have confusion in space and delay of accessibility. Simultaneously, there will be a lot of work on analyzing support and gaps for accessibility in assistive technologies. What do I mean by that? For example, immersive environments.

There's a lot of discussions, not only discussion, implementation on immersive environments, augmented reality, and the such. And we need to look at what does accessibility mean? What do they offer? What are also challenges? This is one example of many of these gaps that we could be, or technology developments that we'll be looking at in this project. And last but not least, I mentioned in the introduction, exploring progress in research and development on accessibility. There are questions on the table, later on, you'll hear about your input on one of the most pressing questions for you, in your environment.

What do you feel you’d want us to try to look at? We'll be balancing all the different inputs, the requests and trying to evolve accessibility to give a spotlight, guidance maybe also for future work. And lastly, the third piece of the project is, as I said earlier, the community exchange, between the different stakeholders. So the public agency is trying to implement the directive, the suppliers, developers, doing the work for the public agencies, disability organizations who need to be involved in this, by the directive, required by the directive. The policymakers, researchers, we need everybody involved here to make accessibility happen. Here there is a lot of work by EDF explained later, things like frequently asked questions, we want to collect those, and try to document and provide them in one place you can come here if you have questions on the Accessibility Directive, with a legal disclaimer that we're not lawyers.

They'll be pointers and sign posts to find the information you need. And an ask question function where you can ask or send questions, so there's support for implementing the directive. So, the last slide for now is a rather complex diagram, which I'll show again at the end again. My hope is that, if at the end of today, by the end of today's session, you understand this diagram which summarizes the work of the project. On the lefthand side of the project, it's the market development.

What's happening in the market? What are the resources available? I mention the training and certification evaluation tools authoring tools, the practices and developments, all these resources are one part of the project that we want to connect. On the righthand side, there are the technology developments what's happening in the field of harmonized testing? In the field of technology development and in the research and development or technology evolution. So, the right and the left here are what's happening outside of the project, this is what we're trying to collect, document, with input from the community, but try to bring into the centre of the diagram, which is the best practices exchange.

The interface between the community of the Web Accessibility Directive, the WAI-CooP community, with the stakeholders I mentioned you here participating today, public agencies, monitoring bodies, developers, suppliers, researchers, etc., And at the bottom of the image is the WAI resources we want to use as the basis. These are the recognised resources we want to use as a match maker.

At the core of this project, there are the best practices exchange that we're trying to do here in bringing people together. And the unique opportunity here to be collaborating with the EDF to make sure people with disabilities are the table, they're part of the discussions when we talk about the challenges, what are technological priorities we need the look at. What are the resources we can build on it? What are the questions that need to be answered? We want to do it not for, but with people with disabilities. So, as I said, the open meetings, the help desk, the FAQ, this is the core of the project, but in to have these, we need the rest of the work to be happening.

So, that is it, for now, from me for the general overview. We will now go into... Well, area by area in a little bit more detail. The different people leading these deliverables as we call it in EC funding Lingo. The people leading these pieces, I'll introduce them one by one, and they'll be letting us know the work in these areas.

Now just as a reminder, please, do use the Q&A function. And let us know your questions for the day, and we'll try to be responding to them as we go along. So, the first area, this first session, we're a little bit behind time, is on the market development, so, the first deliverable is about the list of accessibility training and certification. This is kind of a code name for now as we don't know how this will be called. I'd like to call on here Professor Carlos Duarte, from the University of Lisbon who has been long time participating on the accessibility community and he has a long history working on mobile accessibility, testing, and many other areas, His research focus on digital accessibility. He is co-chair of the community group of the Accessibility Conformance Testing And is also working with us on the WAI curricula task force that is developing the WAI curricula I talked about earlier, which I'm sure you'll be referring to in his speech.

He also leads the team responsible for the development of Qual web, an automated web Accessibility tool at the University of Lisbon. And Carlos, please go ahead, let us know about the training and certifications CARLOS: Thank you so much, thank you for the introduction As you mentioned earlier, one of the objectives of this project is provide information about the accessibility training and certification offers that are available all around the world. I'm sure that some of you have had at some point in your organizations, you felt need to train or certify some of your staff in accessible development or accessible desing, or accessible content authoring or maybe you are a freelance developer that wants to upgrade your skills to make sure you know that what you develop is accessible and this you can meet the evolving needs of organisations across Europe. I could go on but these are just a couple of examples where users today might struggle to find information, they are looking for and that can benefit from the accessibility-related courses that we’re building in the scope of the WAI-CooP project. First we...

There seems to be a problem with the captioner. We want to make sure that the scope of this list is as broad as possible. It will cover educational resources, such as a university's degree on digital Accessibility or just a single discipline course. It will cover professional training resources that can be offered by individuals or training academies. It will cover certification offering from professional associations.

In short, it will display any offering related to the accessibility, that someone wants to announce. This brings us to an important point. It will be the responsibility of the individual or organisation responsible for the offering to provide that information. In WAI-CooP, we're not collecting the information ourself and we're not endorsing any of the courses. What we're doing developing an online resource that allow providers of accessibility-related courses to publish information about their offerings. This will then make it easier for other individuals and organisations that are looking for such offerings to more easily find it. Still, locating the course that meets my need can be a difficult task if there are no criteria to compare multiple offerings.

To assist in this comparison, as Shadi said, we will be reusing part of the work of the W3C WAI curricula task force. The work we're doing, the task force is defining what should be in a curricula for many aspects of web accessibility. This means the offerings on this list will be able to characterized by the learning outcomes from the WAI curricula they address. And this expected to make easier to distinguish between courses targeting developers or designers, for example, or between courses that just address the basics and those that are more detailed and specialized. The list of courses will feed to have features to support both the submission of courses by course providers, and the searching, the filtering of the available offers for those of us that are looking for that. These filters will consider the sides, the mention learning outcomes, and other aspects of the courses like what is the course format? Is it an online offering? Is it a face to face course? Is it a hybrid course? The cost of the course, which country and language will be provided in.

What level of expertise are you required to have to be able to understand the content of the course? Which target? Is it for a developer or a designer? So, what is the target and several other criteria that we are thinking about and considering. And this work is being done in coordination with W3C education working group. And I think we are happy to say that some of the initial prototypes that we have been doing during the first six month, they are already going live, and Shadi has already changed the slides, so in the coming months, we're following the W3C process, so we'll go through several stages of review. But, on an optimistic note, maybe we can be here presenting the first published list of certification and training.

I expect in the first WAI-CooP meeting of 2022. That's it for me now, Shadi. Thank you very much, Carlos, and we'll hear more from you later on other technology developments or other parts of the project under technology development. Moving over to another personal hero in accessibility, Eric Velleman who is currently an innovation expert at Bartimeus Institute for the blind, Accessibility Strategy advisor at the Accessibility Foundation and a researcher at Han University for applied sciences, he's got many hats in accessibility.

His research team works on methods for accessibility monitoring, data visualization and maturity modelling. I worked with Erik very closely on the WCAG EN the work on evaluation methodology and the report tool, and many of you might know also the statement generator, which is also in support of the accessibility directive. And, yeah, many other contributions he had in accessibility to the past. So, without further ado, Erik, please tell us about the list of evaluation tools. ERIK: Thank you for the great introduction, I think you missed the part where I said I liked playing roller coaster tycoon, but it doesn't work on my computer anymore.

Okay, so we're looking into resources of the W3C website, the WAI website, And one of the resources we want to update, or in this case, revise is the list of Web Accessibility evaluation tools. I don't know if you all know this page, but it is a page that has a long number of tools, 159 tools. Each has a short description and there are filters on the page. There's a button where you can add your own tool. There's a big disclaimer where W3C doesn't support any particular tool, and there's a page that helps you select web accessibility evaluation tools. This page, if you go here and search for a tool, the question is, what users will go here? And what exactly will they be doing there? So that is something we want to have a look at in the coming months.

We already started on this. Next slide, to look at the filters. So currently the are filters to filter the tools, like for guidelines, and many of the guidelines on the page they are guidelines that might not be in EN 30549 in Europe anymore, but national guidelines, so I think you have to have a look at that. Languages, type of tools, the supported formats, assisted by automatically checks for things. The license, like is it public free to use, commercial...? And does it provide additional accessibility information? We want to have a look at these filters and see what users got to this page and if these filters help them find the tools they are looking for.

So, next slide. To support you in the selection of tools there is an extensive page called Selection Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools, sort of the pages for sort of suite together. It has a video explaining how to select, it tells you what evaluation tools can do and cannot do. It goes into the features of evaluation tools, and it gives some further consideration. This is also a page that if we make changes to the tools list, it'll probably also make changes to this selecting support page. The next one.

To do this work... We carried out this together through the W3C education working group. To do this we're starting with writing the requirements for this, we're looking at use cases and scenarios, and maybe you can help us there, in fact, anyone can help us there by telling us if you go to this page, why would you go here? What are you looking for? And, well, so we can sort of conclude if the filtering is okay, so if you are missing filters, for instance, you can give us a heads up and tell us which filters would better help you. Or if you're happy with the filters that are there, also let us know. Also glad to have positive feedback. Then we want to research the Web Accessibility requirements and see if those requirements will add information or filtering to the page.

We'll define the workflow for editing submitting and moderating entries, and organizations can do this by themselves, so you go to this button, add a tool, you can fill out your tool there, and then submit it. So we want to look at this process if we can improve the workflow Although I haven't heard any complaints about it. Then develop and define prototypes, and then build the final version using the WAI website compliment, infrastructure and frameworks.

And there is a lot of work to do in repopulating the list according to the revised criteria, you'll probably be sending out a request to everyone who is on this list, or who has a tool listed here to maybe add information about criteria that we add for the filtering. So this is generally the work we want to do on the evaluation tools list. The second list we want to check is on accessibility laws and policies. If you go to this page, you'll see that it starts with a disclaimer, the pages not updated. So we want to do that. We're not revising this list.

We're not possibly changing it like for accessibility tools list. But we want to update the information. So, this is much more about content. So this is detective work, as we call it. So we want to know what is happening in all the countries of the world when it comes to policies related to web accessibility. We will be revising entries, we can do this thanks to GitHub, if you go to this page, at the bottom there is a link to the github, and in GitHub, you can just add your information so there's already information, new information, I think for Brazil and many other countries, you can go there and see if your country is already there and if not, just add information about policies in your country. We'll start with that, after that we'll start contacting and research additional entries.

We'll use a whole cannon of students from a University I'm working and ask them to sort of taking the[INAUDIBLE] to revise the entries that currently there. For the EU we'll collect specific information on policies to be web accessibility directive especially for a monitoring and enforcement bodies, etc. So, as you can see, at the left there is international laws and policies, an overview, and if you go to the page, you'll see a big list of countries.

If your country is not there, then just go to GitHub, issue list and tell that you're missing it. Even if you do that, we would prefer if you also add a select list of policies that you know about or links to them. That's it.

SHADI: Thank you very much, Erik. The link to this page is in the chat. It's W3C.org/wai/policies. And all the resources we're talking about will be available there.

There were some questions in the chat, that are relevant to this session. We've been talking about things we're going to do, or updating or already updating and inviting you to participate, and there are some questions on how can we do that. W3C is an open space. All our work is done in the public, in GitHub. There are many ways you can get involved in all these deliverables that you just saw. So, for example for this particular list of laws and policies that Erik was talking about, at the bottom of that page when you go there, there's a small box that says give us your feedback, you can send feedback by good old email or through GitHub. Github is a developer platform, it's not as scary as it sounds, you can raise issues there that help us collaboratively, you can see there also the drafts that we're developing, like the requirement analysis we've been talking about.

Or the draft, the preview that Carlos has shown. All these resources as they're being developed in their development stages are fully online, fully public, and we always welcome, you know, contribution to these. So, we'll get maybe back again in the end to give you more pointers, it's an open-source community, so everything is happening and you can get involved as much as you want.

You can send comments or actively come in and pick up more volunteer work here. There was a related question if there's a resource called the before and after the demo, and BAD is the acronym, which is a miniature website before and after being accessible It's also outdated. This isn't part of the project. The person is asking if they can start such a project.

Yes, please, it's open source. If you have the time, resources and commitment available to start such work, please contact me, and you know, it's all open for development. And last but not least, there was a question here on courses, why doesn't W3C WAI make an official accessibility programme that would guarantee the quality and consistency of the content? There are two answers to this. First of all, quality and consistency will depend on the particular country, the different laws and policies, assistive technologies used, etc. Sometimes it's not one course that will cover everything, sometimes you need something for specific developers, something you need for designers, UX designers, content authors and so on.

Centralization is maybe not the best approach, but decentralizing, trying to build up the capacities so people can provide courses more decentralized, W3C doesn't have to be the central body, and it cannot be for all of this. The second part of your question is, we have in fact a course, an introduction course, also available from our home page that we developed in cooperation with UNESCO, it's called foundations of digital accessibility, and it gives an excellent introduction, I'm biased, to the concept of accessibility and WCAG so have a look at that on our home page as well. Let's continue, we'll come back for more questions and answers, please keep them coming in the Q&A box. Now we're moving to a different part of the project, which is technology developments in the field. How is technology evolving and tracking this? Because it feeds into the implementation. What we can do with technologies? Or what tools and resources are available or what changes? What we can do on the ground? So, I'd like to call on the next person in line, Wilco Fiers, who has also been working in accessibility for many years, He's the Product owner of Ax Core and Ax Linter at Deque systems, These are all evaluation testing tools, automatic evaluation testing tools, but he also has a background in manual testing.

He's been doing that many years before joining DQ. He's a facilitator of the ACT task force (Accessibility Conformance Testing) and also the community group at W3C. He is actively participating in the development of the WCA guidelines, so he participated in the development of 2.1 and the upcoming WCAG 2.2 and 3.0. A person with many hats on as well. Welcome, Wilco, please, tell us more about the ACT support matrix. WILCO: Thank you Shadi.

And welcome to the shortest part of this presentation So, real quick, so ACT stands for Accessibility Conformance Testing. It is a project that was started up a couple of years ago when it became apparent to a bunch of us that there are far too many differences between different tools and different testing methodologies. When testing essentially two distinct things. So, WCAG meaning Content Accessibility Guidelines is the international standard of accessibility testing.

However, when a testing along WCAG, it requires an interpretation, WCAG was written many years ago, and technologies are ever changing. It was written in a way it'd transcend different technologies and it'd stay current even though technologies change, but because of that, there is an interpretation that's needed and what we found and what many people have found is that this interpretation happens different ways by different people. So, what we wanted to do with ACT is figure out a way to get organizations to test more consistently, which is why we came up with ACT rules. ACT rules are these specific documents to one type of content, so you can imagine a webpage can be a PDF or HTML, there's different technology out there and you can write a rule that describes how to test one particular aspect of one of those technologies. And, by having these rules alongside test cases we can make sure that when you build an accessibility tool, when you're building a testing methodology, that you do it in the same way and in the intended way by the W3C.

That's in short what ACT is about, it's making sure different tools and different testing methodologies have a consistent interpretation of WCAG, so that when you test the same page with two different technologies, you get roughly the same result. That already exists, that is work that's in progress, but as part of the WAICooP project, what we're going to do is develop an ACT support matrix. What the support matrix is going to do is to track the support of ACT rules in different accessibility evaluation tools, these different testing methodologies.

And just so we're all on the same page here, in methodology, it's not a widely understood term, but when you're testing WCAG manually, often organizations have a document of how to test WCAG. Sometimes these are kind of ad hoc documents, these are more formalized examples that's popular in Europe RGA, developed by the French government which outlines step-by-step how to test for WCAG. In the support matrix, what we're going to do is keep track of different tools, different methodologies, how they compare to these rules that we have talked about. We do this by looking at test cases, so a tool or methodology and you would run it against a number of test cases, and it would tell you a couple of things.

Firstly, it would tell you if that rule is fully supported or partially supported, or not supported at all. Maybe there are things in the ACT rule that is just done differently than in the tool or the methodology. That's something that you'd be able to tell from the support matrix. Another super available thing is to know if that tool or methodology did test fully automatically, semi-automatically or manual.

There are many tools out there, an increasing number of them these days that mix things up, some things are automatic, some require user input And in a support matrix you should be able to see what tools are available where. This is going to show how consistent different tools and different methodologies are with the common expression of WCAG. This is all going to be part of the WAI website. This is open to be checked and approved by accessibility guidance working group, which is the group responsible for WCAG itself so you know this is the intended way [INAUDIBLE] Hopefully, this will create greater transparency, and it's going to encourage a tool develop or some methodology developers to make sure the way to approach testing is increasingly consistent. SHADI: Thank you, Wilco.

Quick question, I think we have some over 70 rules already for WCAG 2? WILCO: I think we're in the 90s. It depends on how you count. SHADI: Okay. So there's a good related question here, All questions are good, but this one concerns your presentation. What will become the ACT in regards to WCAG 3? WILCO: That's a fascinating question.

SHADI: Test-driven landscape, defined test before success criteria, before more can be tested automatically. WILCO: I really hope it will. One of the tasks of the ACT taskforce is to work with the group that is developing WCAG 3 to help them do this. To some extent, 3 is going to be more automatable than WCAG 2, we'll have to wait and see, there are lots of ambitions to have different types of testing, which may not be as automated as testing is today, it's kind of a back and forth going on about how we're going to do that but ACT is definitely involved. We'll be looking at WCAG 3 for this angle as welt. SHADI: Thank you. We should separate two things:

One is the testability of the requirements, which is the focus of ACT, and the other orthogonal part is the automatability. Of course the more structured and clear the tests are, the more testing tools can start getting created with herristics, AI, and what not in order to increase the level of automation. The point is really to be more testable, exactly.

Now, and just to mention, also, WCAG is at the early stage of development, If Wilco knew, I want to also be looking into his glass ball. We're at the early stage, but there are good signs that the aspect of testability is making its way into WCAG 3. More questions are coming in, keep them coming, but now let's move on, we have more to tell you about what this project is working on.

I go back again to Carlos to tell us some more about the technology gaps and analysis work. CARLOS: Thank you, Shadi. I hope captioners can hear me better this time.

So, regarding the technology gap analysis, this is something that we're also looking at the scope of the project, so we'll also try to monitor technological developments in digital accessibility, basically to understand gaps for accessibility key technologies as Shadi mentioned earlier, virtual reality, augmented reality... Different ways that machine learning and artificial intelligence can impact accessibility, but also mobile and other technologies. As I'm sure you're all aware, technology is developing at an ever-increasing pace, this will create both opportunities and challenges for persons with disabilities. While in this project we will not develop new technology, we will try to monitor ongoing research and development activities and circulate our finding accross the communities of the Web Accessibility Directive to support current and future implementations of the directive. Our monitoring process will need to consider different sources.

Clearly, the web accessibility community will provide relevant input on their existing and future needs about the directive's implementation for web and mobile technologies. Representatives of persons with disabilities can provide up to date information about accessibility gaps existing and upcoming technologies. Practitioners and companies developing accessible solutions or solutions for monitoring accessibility conformance of existing platforms will be another source of information for this.

Here, I'd like to bring the architectures of the working group of the W3C accessible platforms that will certainly contribute with the identification of existing limitations in how current assistive technologies might cope in this new environment, like AI-enabled interactions or assessments, or virtual and augmented realities. So, we'll work with the working group of the accessible platforms architectures hopefully starting from next month to assist us in this identification. And, of course, we will reach out to the research community to try to bridge the gap between their research efforts and accessible implementations of those results. And, we're pretty sure that this will give rise to a large volume of information.

This is why we need to define some criteria to prioritize what we can address as part of this project. And in a bit, I'll talk about the kind of activities we want to promote. But we don't expect to be able to support activities for all the topics that we will be raising. So we will have to establish criteria taking into account all relevant and current a specific topic is and much of an impact it can have on the community.

This will allow us to prioritize topics, select topics we want to focus in each of the project tiers, and optimize resources we have available for this task. As I mentioned, we will implement different activities in this task. And there's technology gaps analysis umbrella. We want to establish a platform where the stakeholders can contribute. Towards that goal, we're configuring a digital forum to facilitate identification and discussion of topics by every member of the community. We will populate this forum with a set of categories and topics resulting from our initial inquiries.

For example, monitoring agencies will certainly like to discuss topics about monitoring accessibility. Accessibility experts might want to discuss devaluation practices. The AI researchers can discuss how to prevent bias in their solutions. These are just examples of discussions that could go on in this forum.

With this, we hope the whole community can benefit from the shared knowledge. At the same time, we will monitor and analyze the discussion to understand what are the most relevant and impactful topics, eventually for different subcommunities. This analysis will be helpful for establishing topics for future open meetings, which Carin will talk about later, but also for the second activity that we're conducting in this task. And this activity is to organize and run three research symposium, where we expect to promote exchanges between researchers from academia, and industry, and technology developers, public bodies, representatives of persons with disabilities and basically anyone else interested in this topic.

We're not talking about academic conferences when we research symposia, we're not talking about conferences with in-depth analysis of research topics, but more of a place for exchange of applied practices, experiences and solutions that are already available, or that can be made available in a short time. In the context of this task, we’ve been already doing some digging about what the research and development communities are up to. We have looked up to research publications on accessibility-related conferences and journals in the last three years.

We've analyzed keywords and found out that, for example, virtual reality is a hot topic in the research community related to accessibility. But so are evaluation techniques, games, education, or AI and machine learning, for instance. So, in the coming months, I would say, we need to cross this information, the needs of persons with disabilities developers, public bodies so that the project can make an informed decision on the topic for the first symposium that will happen later this year. Back to you, Shadi. SHADI: Thank you very much, Carlos, we're still at the start of the project.

This will be another open space here where... There's a screenshot right now on the screen, with just a sketch of the tooling we're thinking about that's not yet confirmed, which basically would list different categories of research topics and people could contribute thread in there, so have online discussions up vote things, contribute, and then depending on these criteria we'll select individual ones that we can research in more depth but the platform and ideas will remain open for others to create their own research symposia or dig into specific questions in depth. Moving on because we're really running short on time, to the third but most essential part of the project, which is the best practices exchange, which is really connecting all these different efforts with open meetings, with frequently asked questions, help desk and providing WAI resources, and kind of promoting this exchange. And, I'd like to call on like to say my partner in crime on this project, and, very dear colleague Carine Marzin who has been working on EU digital accessibility policy for over 13 years now, including with EDF and the European Blind Union, She's the author of the EDF's Plug and Play report. If you haven't read that report, I really recommend that you do, it looks at the Disability perspective on all the evolving and emerging technologies like AI and automated decision making and emerging technologies etc. It's a really important report on the accessibility opportunities, but also challenges here.

And I'm very glad that she's now the project manager for the WAI-CooP that EDF and working very closely with me and particularly here in this area, which is the interface to the world. So, Carine please take this one. CARIN: Thank you, Shadi, for the kind words. I'm going to introduce very briefly the three deliverables that the EDF is responsible for in this project.

The first one here is the open meetings. Obviously, today is the first meeting which we're using to present the project to you and our objective is to have two open meetings every year. Obviously, we are online because of COVID-19, we're hoping in future we'll be able to have face-to-face meetings, and the idea is to organize those meetings in coordination with EDF members meetings which are held every six months in the different EU Member States. So, who would we want to see in those meetings and talk to us? Well, anyone who has an interest in Web Accessibility in the implementation of the directive. People from the industry, people who work for public authorities, people who are in academia, EDF members, and anybody else that feels they want to contribute to the conversation. The discussion topics that we will pick for those meetings, they will be based on feedback we get from the project community, so that's everyone attending the meeting today or people that want to network and would have an interest.

That's in a nutshell what these open meetings will be about. Next slide, please. The second part of the project which is under EDF's responsibility is to set up a Frequently Asked Questions website. So, we will collect document and curate a list of FAQs on web accessibility and the directive on the issues that come up in implementation of the directive.

You know, from various communities, so we thought about our welcoming questions from anyone, from web developers, service providers, public sector bodies, organizations of persons with disabilities, researchers, anybody really that wants to ask questions. We'll prepare answers and the answers will be reviewed by the WAI-CooP project partners here. Then they'll be posted on the website which is currently in development. So that's coming soon.

Next slide, please. So, on the website where we have the Frequently Asked Questions, we will have a function, which is a help desk function. Should you not find the answer to the questions you're asking, you will have an opportunity to fill an online form, ask any question about web accessibility, and then we will work on those questions and provide answers with the input of the WAI-CooP partners you met today.

Once we have an answer to these questions we'll add them to the FAQ website, for the community to be able to see, objectively to capture the key questions that come up in the implementation of the web directive, but also to become new themes and discussion topics so, which will then feedback into the project, whether it's through open meetings discussion, themes, or through the research part of the project, and so on. So, in a nutshell, this is what the EDF will work on. And, I will hand it back to you, Shadi. SHADI: Thank you Carin. It's the last deliverable you'll hear about today.

I know this has been a lot to take in. Erik, tell us about the way resources will be updated, very briefly please, we're behind time. ERIK: Okay, very briefly. So, there are more resources on the website of WAI.

So we're currently looking into which resources people would like to update, revise or maybe curate so, we're looking at this sort of a top list of resources. There is a GitHub page, I don't think it is open, but if you have any ideas about the page that you think is important, that would really need updating or more content or more work, then, please let us know. And tell us why because it'd be important to explain to other people why we do one and not the other.

We can revise one WAI resource per year, for this, we'll establish requirements, develop prototypes, use components and styles to update the page. The closer we leave the page as it is, just add content if that is the case. So this is, we'll do one WAI resource, we can update one WAI resource per year. So, yeah. Let us know. SHADI: Thank you, Erik. This will be based in the context of this project, on the other discussions you heard earlier.

One of the key questions is what are the things we need to clarify to help people implement accessibility such as the web accessibility directive. We come to kind of the end of the project. I am showing, again, the diagram from earlier, hopefully, now things are a little bit more in place, the map of how things fit together.

So, on the lefthand side, we have market developments with the list of training and certifications, evaluation tools, authoring tools not directly developed by this project, but fits in very well, it's a synergy effect, the policy and practices, this is kind of what's happening in the world outside, the resources we're collecting and making available. On the right-hand side are the technology developments, how it looks with harmonized testing, getting the methodologies and testing and more uniform in their interpretation. The gaps or in different technologies, and support in gaps. Technologies, generally, and technologies on the web like immersive environment, etc., research development symposia to bring people together to look at applied or future WAIs.

In the centre of the diagram is the best practices exchange, bringing it all together, the community together to have these discussions, to be matchmaking between the resources and the technologies involving people with disabilities is the heart of this project with open meetings and help us in the Frequently Asked Questions. And at the bottom of the image of WAI resources but at the top of the community is the Web Accessibility community in this particular project. But there's a related question I want to point out. Somebody asked specifically about the list of international laws and policies. So, web accessibility is becoming global and this project is in the context of the European Web Accessibility directive. But I think the questions are the same in every country.

Where do I start? Which tools can I use? What resources are available? And so on. We're doing much work on translations and internationalisation at W3C so these resources are for this project, in the context of this project useful or also equally applied internationally so it's not exclusive to the Web Accessibility directive. Please do contribute with your laws and policies. We have the funding to maintain this page for the coming years We also want to make sure that we can have maintenance model, something that we can keep updated regularly later on in the years. Talking about maintenance and keeping things alive for a long time, it's a difficult thing to do. Another question: is it planned to have an expert comment on the tool list? I believe, the list of evaluation tools.

So, for example, vendors might say our tool makes coffee in the morning, but you might want to have a comment saying well, the coffee is not that good or something. Now we've discussed this about having comments or kind of this would be an evaluation from W3C or an external body but posted on the W3C website. It's a very difficult thing to do, we're trying to move in another direction which is provide more details, what exactly does it mean, this feature? How does it map to ACT, for example? If you say, you test WCAG what success criteria, or what tests exactly do you actually cover? Things like this to provide transparency but in an objective way, rather than have a subjective assessment by third parties because that gets into all sorts of liability difficulties. I am wondering if there's other questions… If any of the panellists wants to add one or the other.

So, please, Carlos, Erik, Wilco and Carin, if you have any comments, now is the time. Hearing none, let me try to get a few more questions answered from the public. I cannot promise to get to all of them, they're coming in quickly.

Is it the intention to have the FAQ in a knowledge base format to make it easier to search for answers in the list of FAQ format? Really good question. It will depend on how this expands and how the size is. So far, we don't have that many questions that needs a full-blown knowledge base to my understanding, but that might change during the course of the project depending on all your questions that we need to work in. There are some questions talking about overlays, which are these things that you can... the promise that you can install on the website, and they make it accessible, magically accessible. One of the things is, this is outside the scope of this project.

We do not count these for now as evaluation tools. So right now, they would not be listed on the evaluation tools. Sorry, then, there was another question, if the EAA is soon also mandatory for parts of the private sector.

How do you see the incorporation of private companies like Telekom for training and education? Great question. Thank you. We're trying to look ahead. All these resources and this is the benefit of the Web Directive Yes, for now, it only applies to public bodies, but there are developers for these public bodies who will be developing other things as well. There's the knowledge in the community, the awareness, so these resources will be useful for anyone to implement accessibility. There's the European Accessibility Act that comes into full force, I hope all these resources should be reasonable.

SHADI: Okay, one last question. Somebody verified that many lawsuits use a particular tool. I really do not know about that. And that's also outside the scope of this project. I mean, we could look into methods of large scale monitoring and so on, as some of the research questions, but I don't think we'd be looking into specifics tools regardless if it's an evaluation tool or overlay or any other thing, we're trying to hear, to scale on a broader level. This brings us to the end of the session.

I know this has been very fast, and we whizzed through, It's also the balance to find between having it short and sweet, especially when it's online. And people are already fed up of Zoom. We do hope we can have face-to-face meetings should we be able to travel. Essentially these open meetings were supposed to be co-held with EDF meetings again, here, to facilitate participation of people with disabilities in these discussions I think corona has impacted us all, hopefully, we can return again to face-to-face with real interaction and not in front of computer screens. I apologize that we rushed through this to get an overview.

The next open meeting will be yours, picking topics and themes and invite you to be more actively involved in the discussions. I want to mention a few things at the end. First of all, big thanks to EDF for hosting this meeting, the accessibility functionality, and for being a good partner, I really look forward to future meetings with in-person opportunities here.

So big thanks to EDF and of course all the project partners. I want to thank in particular Carin and Raquel for all the work done on this. The v

2021-08-09 00:20

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