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8th European e-Accessibility Forum
User-driven e-Accessibility

31/03/2014, 09:00 - 18:00 - Registration from 8:30
Cité des sciences et de l'industrie - Universcience - Paris

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Combining User and Device Context for Accessibility

Andy HEATH (United-Kingdom)
W3C/WAI IndieUI Independent User Interface working group

Speaker's information

Andy Heath

Having spent 20 years teaching computer science, Andy HEATH is now a freelance consultant on strategy and implementation around Accessibility Technology Standards supporting individualisation. He is an editor of and contributor to many key standards and an invited expert to many groups including ISO/IEC 24751-1:2008 Individualized adaptability and accessibility in e-learning, education and training, W3C/WAI Independent User Interface working group, IMS Accessibility Special Interest Group, ISO/IEC JTAG for the revision of ISO/IEC Guide 71, ISO/IEC JTC1 SWG on the Internet of Things, the schema.org Accessibility Metadata project and The IEEE Actionable Data Book research project. In his non-working time he is in love with Argentinian Tango.



Accessibility is a relationship between producer and consumer. Every mechanism we use to deal with accessibility is some way of managing that relationship.

Independent User Interface (IndieUI) is a way for user actions to be communicated to web applications. IndieUI aims to make it easier for web applications to work in a wide range of contexts — different devices, different assistive technologies (AT), different user needs.

For example, if a user wants to scroll down a page, they might use their finger on a touch screen, or click a scroll bar with a mouse, or use a scroll wheel, or press Page Down on a keyboard, or say "scroll down" with a voice command. All those different user actions can be translated into a simple IndieUI scroll event.

IndieUI will allow web application developers to get these events from different devices without having to recognize how the user performed the action. With IndieUI, AT will have a simple set of events to control web applications, and web application developers will have a uniform way to design applications that work for multiple devices and contexts.

IndieUI will include two technical specifications: IndieUI: Events and IndieUI: User Context. These documents are developed by the Independent User Interface Working Group (IndieUI WG), which is part of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

IndieUI: Events maps user input events to intended function. For example, a user scrolling a page is a series of touch events closely related in time and space. This can be complicated for web applications to process, particularly because the expected gestures vary by platform. IndieUI will allow the device to send a simple "scroll" event to the application, thus simplifying the work needed by the web application developer.

IndieUI: User Context will allow a web application to get information about user needs and preferences. This will facilitate a web application optimizing for specific user contexts and provide the best possible user experience to all users. Some complex web applications can provide a much better experience if given access to information such as a user's preferred colour, font, screen, and even *restricted* assistive technology settings such as a preference to render captions, or whether a screen reader is on. General web pages developed using best practices may never need access to restricted user settings, but complex web applications can utilize this information to enhance the performance and user interface.

Both documents are in currently in draft form.

video of the presentation by Andy Heath

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