WAI-Tools Project Update: First Open Meeting Brings Experts Together

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By Daniela Di Gianantonio
dic. 21 2017 — Web Accessibility

This blog post is part of an ongoing Siteimprove series to update readers on the latest WAI-Tools Project news.

Building on ongoing efforts to standardize accessibility testing, the WAI-Tools Project officially kicked off its three-year journey in Brussels on November 29. There, the group behind the project publicly introduced its plans in the first open meeting.

Around 50 people gathered to learn about the project work and deliverables. The meeting brought together accessibility experts from EU Member States, researchers and practitioners, representatives from the European Commission and other stakeholders.

The WAI-Tools Project is a collaborative innovation action between key players in the manual and automated accessibility industry and national authorities. Most of the project work is carried on in the vendor-neutral environment of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and it is co-funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 program (Grant Agreement 780057).

The main deliverables of the WAI-Tools Project are to:

  • Build a common interpretation of global WCAG 2 by creating automated, semi-automated, and manual test rules in the W3C ACT Format
  • Develop open source implementations of these test rules
  • Demonstrate their applicability in large-scale accessibility monitoring

As a member of the WAI-Tools Project consortium, Siteimprove’s role in the project is to build a transparent set of automated accessibility testing rules. From there, the goal is to implement those ACT rules into Siteimprove’s checker engine, and deliver an open-sourced checker engine that anyone can “plug and play” into their technology. It directly supports the company mission to make the web a better place for all, and will provide an even stronger accessibility solution to its global customer base.

A fundamental piece of W3C’s mission is to empower people around the world to develop new technologies based on open standards. So while the WAI-Tools Project has a certain set of partners and specific deliverables, it’s designed to support and accelerate W3C activities that are open for contribution by anyone.

“By working together, in the collaborative W3C space, we can build on each other’s work to help foster web accessibility,” said Shadi Abou-Zahra, accessibility strategy and technology specialist with the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the W3C.

Most of the WAI-Tools Project work is developed in close coordination with the W3C’s Auto-WCAG Community Group and the ACT Task Force. These groups and the project consortium encourage active participation, comments, and contributions to all project results.

In the coming year, project partners will establish the specific testing rules to be developed in the common ACT format, which will follow the ACT Review Process throughout 2018. Moreover, the group is designing outreach activities to raise awareness about the project, and promote involvement and uptake of project results.

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