DCMI Accessibility Community

Name: DCMI Accessibility Community
Type: Community Interest Group
Status: Inactive Finished
Charter: The DCMI Accessibility Community is a forum for individuals and organizations involved in implementing Dublin Core in a context of accessibility, with the objective to enhance the matching of personal needs to resources through the use of Dublin Core metadata.
Moderator/Chair: Liddy Neville
Established: 2001-10-25


The focus of the work of the Community is to ensure that DC metadata users can describe resources and services in a way that will increase the accessibility of information for everyone. This supports the 'AccessForAll' approach to accessibility that differs from previous reliance solely on good resource design and construction. The AccessForAll approach adopts the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities aiming to make the online world inclusive. AccessForAll metadata:

  • makes it easier, or possible, to find resources that will be accessible to the individual user;
  • enables accessibility services to deconstruct resources containing inaccessible material and to replace, augment or transform that material before replacing it in the composite resource and delivering it to the user;
  • will exploit the emerging accessibility services in the cloud, thus supporting the development of the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure ( GPII);
  • makes it more likely that a resource suitable for an individual user will be found, even when it is not generally 'accessible' (according to the W3C/WAI WCAG, and
  • enables the sharing of the task of creating alternative modalities of a particular resource so these components can be shared.

See more details about the AccessForAll Framework on the DC-Accessibility wiki

The adaptation of resources is of interest to many users but currently there is no standard way to indicate the adaptability of resources. There are a number of different communities interested in such adaptability e.g. those concerned with:

  • local dependence and independence of resources and services;
  • internationalisation (multi-lingual and multi-cultural resources);
  • accessibility, and
  • mobility and ubiquity, etc.

The general aim of the DCMI Accessibility Community has been to develop an application profile for resources and one for an individual user's accessibility needs and preferences so these can be matched.

The definition of 'accessibility' is wide to include a range of definitions, particularly including those based on the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The range of resources is also likely to be wide but initially relates to digital resources. Other (non-digital) resources can also be described, as is appropriate when they are 'online' meaning their identity is online. The Dublin Core™ metadata solution will work across all domains and the application profiles may be thought of as 'modules' of metadata, to be combined with other metadata to enhance their discoverability and therefore opportunities for their accessibility.

All the work done to date has been done in collaboration with others also working on accessibility metadata.

History of the AccessForAll metadata work

The DCMI Accessibility Community considered the role of metadata to indicate conformance to the well-respected W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. As claims of conformance frequently relate to legal obligations, it has been shown that such metadata is often not reliable and as it does not indicate the accessibility of a resource to an individual, even where it conforms to the WCAG requirements, such metadata is not specific enough to be of significant value in resource discovery for individuals.

More than a decade ago the DC Accessibility Working Group was started to develop metadata relating to accessibility. It was noted that it was the relationship of DC terms that mattered more than just the terms, in the case of accessibility. A few years later, TRACE commenced work on another project that has now led to ISO/IEC N24752. DCMI was involved in developing metadata that can be used to make a remote controller that can be used for any device, matching an interface to the controller to the individual user's needs and preferences.

The AccessForAll work started with a demonstration system built by the ATRC at the University of Toronto. The Inclusive Learning Exchange (TILE) at http://inclusivelearning.ca/ shows how metadata-driven systems can significantly increase accessibility and is undergoing significant implementation. Two metadata profiles for educational users of LOM metadata were developed by IMS Global Consortium: one for describing the needs and preferences of individual users and the other for describing the resources they might want to use (see http://www.imsglobal.org/accessibility/). The metadata was not DC comformant as it was LOM conformant.

This work was then considered by the ISO JTC1 SC36 WG7. The first parts of a proposed multi-part standard was released in 2009 by ISO. They are now available for free from ISO and identified as N24751. The first three parts of the standard provide the Framework, Digital Resource Description and Personal Needs and Preferences documents. Although the work was done by those working for education, these are ISO standards and, as such, applicable in all contexts.

The first parts of AccessFor All metadata are designed to enable matching of digital resources and services to individuals' needs and preferences for display, control and the content of digital resources.. Other parts have been developed for other types of resources. This matching is particularly important when users have accessibility limitations for whatever reason. It is, of course, essential for some users with physical or cognitive disabilities (needs) but also, others may have accessibility preferences. Microsoft's research shows that more than 60% of existing users will benefit if digital resource adaptations are possible. Inconvenience and frustration will be lessened if it is possible to find out about resources, or events or places, in advance of arriving at them. We are concerned that the number of people suffering disabilities is increasing as populations around the world get older. If the accessibility of resources, services, events and places are described in standard ways, many more people will be able to find what they need and want.

The work published in the ISO context did not, however, comply with DC or RDF standards. This meant that the work of the DC Accessibility community was not the same although it aimed to provide comparable 'AccessForAll' descriptions. The ISO editors have now been chartered to rethink and appropriately revise N24751, reforming the abstract model for the metadata (in Part 1) and then to rework how the needs and preferences of users are organised. The editors will also rethink how the needs and preferences are organised, having realised that they may be better organised by needs than by types of resources. All this work will now be done in the light of the new ISO/IEC Metadata for Learning Resources standard (N19788) that requires the metadata to be fully compatible with DCMT and RDF.

Significantly more detail about the AccessForAll metadata is available from the wiki.

Discussion should be directed to the DC-Accessibility Community's mailing list.


Develop AccessFor All metadata for Dublin Core™ metadata users

Outstanding Tasks:

  • promotion of accessibility metadata
  • guidelines for the use of accessibility metadata
  • cross-walks from DC to other relevant accessibility element sets

Liaison efforts

  • Continue working with related groups and activities
  • Encourage involvement of new members/experts


The aim is to complete the work as soon as possible.


The DC Accessibility Community main mailing list archive is: http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/dc-accessibility.html This list is used for open discussion. It is also available for notification of the community of other activites that may be of interest. Practitioners may use it to seek help from their peers.

Recent tasks

  • continuing work with ISO/IEC committees to promote understanding and the use of DCMT and RDF
  • development of an abstract model for DC Access For All resources and metadata
  • production of a namespace for the new terms and vocabularies

Open Issues

The DC-Accessibility Working Group seeks the addition of a term 'accessibility' in order to enable accessibility metadata to be used in the description of resources. If such a term could be adopted and promoted, the accessibility of the World Wide Web would be increased enormously for people with disabilities. Perhaps DCMI could adopt a policy of supporting accessibility, as does W3C, and not publish materials that are inaccessible to many and always consider how its work on terms and application profiles, etc., supports accessibility.

The Working Group's 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. It does not avoid the need for content authoring to be done according to the WCAG Guidelines.

Face-to-Face Meetings

  • There are many meetings around the world that contribute to this work but the next DCMI meeting will be in Malaysia in 2012.
- DC-Accessibility Working Group session at DC 2006 in October 2006
  • Many Task Groups meetings took place in 2006 including weekly teleconferences
  • DC Working Group meeting in Melbourne Australia in December 7 - 9
  • IMS/DC Working Group meeting in New Jersey in November 2005
  • ISO JTC1 SC36 meetings in North Carolina USA in September 2005
  • DC-Accessibility Working Group sessions at DC 2005 in September 2005
  • IMS/DC Working Group meeting in Toronto Canada in July 2005
  • IMS/DC Working Group meeting in Sheffield 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 http://www.ischool.washington.edu/dc2003/accessibility.html
  • DC/INCITS Accessibility Roadmap Meeting - January 2003 in Washington
    There is a report of this meeting at http://www.dc-anz.org/access-roadmap/
  • 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.