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LONDON, England - The Usability & Accessibility Working Group (UA-WG) today announced the launch of its new web site, http://www.ua-wg.org.

The web site aims to conform to the highest accessibility standards, as set down by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines from the W3C, the leading Internet body.

Visitors to the new web site will soon be able to access a comprehensive glossary, as well as news stories and articles covering the usability and accessibility of web sites. The web site will also contain information about the accessibility accreditation scheme that the UA-WG will be launching in the near future.

Aiming to devise practical initiatives to remedy social exclusion from the Internet, the UA-WG was founded by the British Web Design and Marketing Association (BWDMA) and boasts scientists, academics, and industry professionals among its members. The UA-WG is a non-profit organisation that has no vested interests and is vendor-neutral.

According to Jodie White, BWDMA Relationship Manager, it is the participation of people with disabilities that makes the composition of the UA-WG unusual.

White explains: "The UA-WG is designed to attract a broad range of professionals from trade bodies, advocacy groups and industry professionals. As we also have contributing professionals that are both disabled and work in the digital sector, the group has even greater insight into the diversity of requirements for people with disabilities."

Léonie Watson, Chairman for the UA-WG, was a creative designer and programmer who went from 20:20 vision to absolute blindness.

She says: "Since the evolution of the Disability Discrimination Act, web usability and accessibility have become hot issues. I am very encouraged by the commitment of people that obviously have a real passion for these issues. We already have some interesting initiatives to consider that could make a significant difference."

The first initiative the UA-WG is looking to promote is the first ever accessibility accreditation scheme for suppliers of web design services. The accreditation will enable the digital industry to identify qualified suppliers in what is a legally essential requirement for all organisations on the web. It will include education elements, a continuous self-assessment facility and a formal accreditation process.

About the UA-WG
Aiming to devise practical initiatives to remedy social exclusion from the Internet, the UA-WG has attracted scientists, academics, and industry professionals. The basic goals of the group are to raise awareness of problems and issues, promote best practice accessibility and usability and endorse the Accessibility Accreditation Scheme. For further information please consult http://www.ua-wg.org or contact Léonie Watson on 0117 929 7375.

Published on: 12:00AM on 12th August 2004