Personalizing the Web
for Better Accessibility

WAI-Adapt Task Force

★ W3C TPAC 2023, Seville, 11–15 September ★


This is a presentation on the latest work of the WAI-Adapt Task Force.

Facilitators: Sharon Snider; Lionel Wolberger

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What is this all about?

A more adaptive web

Who needs a more adaptive web?

All of us, at some time or another!

Day-to-day impact

Accessing critical services…

Standards exist to make these interfaces accessible such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)


User needs differ

An approach like this needs semantics.

Where are we going?

WikiHow page about how to make a cup of tea before adaptation; featuring extraneous content and many visual elements.
WikiHow page about how to make a cup of tea after adaptation; with far less content around the central article, and symbols augmenting key words.

Content Usable

The Cognitive and Learning Disabilities Accessibility Task Force's document on making content usable

How are we supporting increased adaptation?

Access to web content for symbol users

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)

Home page of Global Symbols, a site that helps people find and publish symbol sets


User need: Users may need symbols to help them understand the concepts behind the content on the page, using the symbol set they know.

Solution: Allow authors to attribute symbol-set-agnostic concepts to parts of the content on the page.

Symbol markup example

  <li><span adapt-symbol="22380">Ingredients</span></li>
  <li><span adapt-symbol="16245">Prepping</span></li>
  <li><span adapt-symbol="22909">Cooking</span></li>
  <li><span adapt-symbol="13690">Plate</span> and taste</li>

We are only mapping individual concepts to individual symbols—not translating.

Blissymbolics Concepts

Home page of Blissymbolics Communication International

AAC Symbol Registry

W3C and Blissymbolics AAC symbol registry spec

Authoring tool demo

Home page of prototype authoring tool


Further work and explorations

Further work

This work is currently being explored…

Simplification: Many people find too many on-screen options to be problematic. Extra example: someone with a migraine. Simplification demo

Purpose: Icons, symbols and pictograms help people identify the purpose of interactive elements. There are many different icons and symbols. Purpose, action, and destination demo

Action, Destination: Users need to understand what a button will do, or where a link will take them. Purpose, action, and destination demo

Distraction: Content of various types and purposes can distract users.


Getting involved

Move the needle—your input is critical

We need implementations based on the specification.

More ways you can take part

Thank you for listening

We look forward to working with you!

This talk was created by members of the WAI-Adapt task force, with particular thanks to Lisa Seeman, Lionel, and the COGA TF for specific content.

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