The W3C's User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) 1.0 is a formal W3C recommendation, meaning it is "essentially an Internet standard for browser and media player design", said Judy Brewer, director of Web accessibility at W3C.
"The accessibility [effort is about] making sure that regardless of what kind of disability, people can still get the information from a Web site," she said.
Written for software developers, the W3C recommendation represents consensus among developers and the disability community on accessibility features needed in browsers and multimedia players used to access the Web.
Examples of enabling disabled access include making browser commands accessible on a keyboard for those who cannot use a mouse and support for screen reader technology, which intercepts what is on a screen and directs it to a speech synthesiser or refreshable braille device for the blind.
"There are millions of blind people using the Web," she said, noting that some of the features in the W3C guidelines are already being implemented in products.
UAAG 1.0 addresses HTML and XHTML browsers, multimedia players, graphics viewers and assistive technologies. The recommendation is the third in a series of recommendations on Web accessibility, following Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 and Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0.
The UAAG Working Group at W3C has also produced a related test suite, interactive forms for evaluation and a techniques document with detailed information on implementation in different markup languages and user agent types.