Project Silver - what it means for accessibility and how you can help make the web more inclusive

silve panel

It’s just a few months since the Web Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG) were publicly released by the World Wide Web Consortium (WC3). But, work has already started on the guidelines’ successor, currently known as Project Silver.

AbilityNet will be following the guidelines’ development over the coming years (the project might be in development for five years) and will be looking for ways we can contribute our wide-ranging expertise from working on web accessibility for numerous large organisations. 

Can you help with Project Silver?

Anyone can contribute to the project and, after a year of initial research, it already has some good foundational ideas about what needs development with the guidelines. The project is particularly looking for participation from experts in the accessibility community who can help with:

  • Writing plain and simple language. The current WCAG 2.1 uses some complex language and we would welcome simplification for our clients and other organisations.
  • Links and resources for supporting content, examples and tutorials. We believe this would hugely help organisations understand accessibility much more clearly and mean that more disabled people could access essential services online. 

The new update comes because a group of people within the WC3 wanted to work on the next major evolution of accessibility guidance with a User Experience model. This meant researching what users needed from accessibility guidance and potentially recommending a major restructuring of WCAG.

A Silver Design Sprint has been already completed, developing a prototype and user testing. This is due in September 2018. 

Experts and members of public needed

If you’d like to contribute to Project Silver, here are some options:

Task Force Participant: the most time-consuming level of participation. The time commitment is estimated to be 6-10 hours per week. To join the Silver Task Force, individuals must be participants of the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group. 

The Silver Community Group is open to the public, and only requires a (free) W3C account and agreeing to the intellectual property commitment for W3C Community Groups. Participants contribute at the amount of time that is convenient for them. 

  • Research Partner: The Silver Task Force seeks qualified researchers in accessibility fields to assist with user research and background research on Silver and WCAG 2. 
  • Silver Stakeholder: people who would provide valuable perspective on a new design of accessibility guidelines. 
  • Comments on publications: The Silver Task Force invites the public to comment on its work. Announcements on Silver Task Force work will be announced on the Silver Email list (public-silver@w3.org)].

Publications will be also be tweeted with the #a11y and #wcag hashtags. Silver publications use the #a11ySilver hashtag. All publications include instructions for comments. 

Writing in plain English

Main topics you can help with:

  • Writing Silver in plain/simple language. Great for editors.
  • Linking to more helpful information that is hard to find.
  • Creating a homepage useful for both beginners and experts.
  • Developing a method for accessibility experts to contribute new content.
  • Changing how to define conformance beyond true/false success criteria statements.
  • Improving specification development tools, i.e. a simplified interface to Github so more people with disabilities can participate.
  • Helping to organise usability testing of the different ideas.

Find out more

This blog was written by Marta Valle and Joe Chidzik from AbilityNet's accessibility team

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