innovation in metadata design, implementation & best practices

DCMI Accessibility Community

DCMI Accessibility Working Group

Join this working group...
See current activity documents...

Chair: Liddy Nevile
Status: This working group is currently active.
Established: 2001-10-25
Last Update: 2005-08-01

In 2004, the DC-Accessibility Working group completed its set of tasks as chartered and produced a set of documents that were to be considered by the Usage Board for the creation of a new DC element to be called DC.Accessibility. The Usage Board have worked with members of the Accessibility Working Group for some time but this work is not yet complete.

The proposed new term is designed to enable matching of resources and services to people's needs and preferences for display, control and content. This is particularly important when users have limitations for any of these, for whatever reason. It is, of course, essential for some users with physical or cognitive disabilities. Microsoft's research shows that more than 60% of existing users will benefit if adaptations are possible. We are concerned that the number of people suffering disabilities is increasing as populations around the world age. If resources and services are adaptable to their needs, many more people will be able to become users.

In addition, it has become clear that communities of publishers, for example, will benefit from single-source, multiple publishing formats if adaptability is available to them. Those trying to fit large Web pages on to small phoine screens are interested from the 'device independent' perspective.

The information model for the new term is closely related to one that describes people's accessibility needs and preferences. Both specifications, for people and for resources, were developed in collaboration with the IMS Global Project and others and they are maintained by IMS: These specifications are free and available to all. They are accompanied by an Overview document, a Best Practices Guide, and schema and vocabularies expressed in XML.

Since that work was completed, the work has become the subject of work in the ISO JTC1 SC36 context, and a first draft of a three part proposal is now available for public comment: see,,

In the meantime, the term "accessibility" has raised some issues as it is very easily confused with "access" which is often in people's minds when they are talking about discovery, and so there is discussion currently about whether it would be better to look to the family of issues, the adaptability of the resource, and work with a term such as "adaptability". Another advantage of this approach is that it brings the work even more closely in line with W3C work in their Device Independent Working Group and it seems it will also fit well with the W3C Mobile Web Initiative work. (It is pleasing to see also that W3C's EARL 1.0 supports what has been done by the DC Accessibility Working Group, as it was hoped it would.) For discussion on this topic, please see

The current proposal for the new element uses the term 'adaptability' in preference to 'accessibility' for the name of the proposed new DC element.

Most recently, in Toronto in July, the Accessibility WG has reviewed the previous work and significantly revised it. It now aligns more closely with DC principles. There is a draft document that describes the Access For All abstract model for resources and their metadata. See

Anyone interested in contributing time and effort will be welcomed - there is a lot of work to be done and everyone has something to contribute!


  1. Completion of work related to the new DC:Accessibility term

    1. finalisation of terminology
    2. text values for term
    3. Sample EARL statements (recommended as value format for term)
    4. RDF schema etc
    5. Best practice notes especially for DC users
  2. Liaison efforts

    1. IMS Global Learning (there is on-going collaborative work associated with accessibility and the new terms)
    2. ISO JTSC 36 (the new term and the people description term are on the agenda for ISO)
    3. ePortfolio and other specification developers
    4. Encourage involvement of new members/experts
  3. Implementation

    1. Work on the necessary matching piece as a DC term (people descriptions)
    2. Seek funding to work collaboratively with others on accessibility metadata
    3. Consider the role of cascading descriptions of people's needs (eg institutional - wide, team-wide, and individual)
    4. Consider the description needs for non-digital resources in mixed digitial/non-digital environments (eg consider the role of a human assistant)
  4. Tools

    1. Promote and support the development of tools that use the accessibility terms to match resources to people's needs and preferences


The work for 2005 should be mostly completed in 2005. (Most of what was proposed for "3. Implementation" (above) will not be undertaken in 2005 due to the lack of progress with the term development.)


The DC Accessibility Working Group mailing list is:

Recent tasks

  • many revisions of the proposal for a new term
  • many revisions of the ISO JTC1 SC36 proposal for an ISO standard for accessibility metadata for education
  • development of an abstract model for DC Access For All resources and metadata

News and Announcements

2005-9-14, The next F2F Working Group meeting for DC:Accessibility will be held at the 2005 Dublin Core Conference in Madrid. There will be a full day of activities for those interested in Dublin Core and accessibility. Anyone interested in attending who has any queries should contact Liddy Nevile.

Open Issues

The work behind the user needs and resource profiles that allow for matching of resources to users' needs and preferences, was predicated upon the notion that digital resources are easily manipulated by computer applications. The initial work was designed to exploit the potential of the applications, in fact. In the UK, however, where there is considerable interest in these profiles for use in education, the context is often mixed (as elsewhere) and so it is likely to be of concern to content providers whether there are physical resources that alter the accessibility of digital resources. A human assistant is one example of such a resource.

Originally, the vocabulary for use in the profiles was part of the profile but it has now been separated to allow for more flexibility. This means there are three parts to the profiles: the user profiles, the resource profiles, and the vocabularies to be used. This opens the way for a multiplicity of vocabularies. There is a concern that what may be achieved in terms of interoperability could be lost through a proliferation of vocabularies.

It is clear that any given user might want to have several profiles of needs according to the context in which they might be operating: the time of day, location, etc might make a difference. Clearly, there are also likely to be institutional uses for user profiles and so the idea of cascading profiles is raised. For accessibility reasons, it is essential that the user's profile always overrides all other profiles, as is the case with cascading style sheets.

This approach to accessibility depends upon not just accessible content (WCAG conformant?) being created in the beginning, with good authoring tools (ATAG conformant), for use with good user agents (UAAG compliant) but also that responsibility for accessible content delivery be taken by the server. This is a shift from earlier approaches which depended solely on WCAG/ATAG/UAAG conformance. It is consistent with other work that aims to provide more device flexibility for users, and so more information mobility.

Face-to-Face Meetings and Reports

  • IMS/DC Working Group meeting in Toronto Canada in July 2005
  • IMS/DC Working Group meeting in Sheffiled UK in April 2005
  • ISO JTC1 SC36 meetings in Tokyo Japan in Febuary 2005
  • AltiLab and IMS meetings held in Melbourne Australia in February 2005.
  • OZeWAI 2004 - December 2004 in Melbourne, Australia
  • IMS/DC Working Group meeting - November in Milton Keynes, UK
  • DC 2004 - October 2004 in Shanghai, China
  • Semantic Web Advanced Development in Europe/MMI-DC 2004 Copenhagen
  • MMI-DC 2004 Brussels
  • DC 2003 - October 2003 in Seattle
    Two special sessions were held at the DC 2003 Conference: see
  • DC/INCITS Accessibility Roadmap Meeting - January 2003 in Washington
    There is a report of this meeting at
  • DC 2002 - October 2002 in Florence


Mailing list

To join or leave:

There have been a number of activities of relevance to this Working Group. (If others know of relevant activities, please let us know!)


Meeting of interested members at DC 2001, Tokyo, October 2001

Members of the Dublin Core Community who met in Tokyo at DC2001 Workshop considered the need for DCMI to demonstrate its concern for accessibility of Web content by exemplifying good accessibility practices and providing a context for others who also take time to make their content accessible.


  • W3C/WAI, developing accessibility standards, tests, and EARL, etc.
  • IMS, working on metadata about resources and learners and accessibility
  • NCAM, accessibility of all media
  • INCITS V2, accessibility of devices to a universal remote console (URC).