It’s no secret that the work of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has an impact on the ICT industry, companies and of course, international standards. Many of you already know that the organisation is led by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web. W3C continue to lead the world toward a more inclusive Web. “The W3C mission is to lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure the long-term growth of the Web” W3C Mission Statement.
W3C have now adopted a new chapter strategy to promote membership, and provide better service to our members. Web Key IT are honoured to have been selected as the Chapter Host for Australia – Western Region. Web Key IT’s General Manager, Amanda Mace will be the Chapter Manager as well as W3C Evangelist - Australia, taking over this role from me as I am now ‘formally’ retired., something many people never believed would happen.
Australian Chapters, including the new Western Region Chapter, will aim to create connections and be a touch point for W3C members here in Australia. Not only connecting with the W3C and its work, but with each other. Providing a strong link to the W3C head office ensures our region is on the map with the opportunity to shine on an international stage. I need not tell you the enormous talent, skill, knowledge and innovation happening here in our industry, incubated and grown to great successes. Having a strong W3C community will not only highlight that to a broader audience but also enable us to have a say in the admirable goals and standards of the W3C.
I first joined W3C as an Invited Expert on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Working Group while completing my PhD at ECU, in Western Australia. My doctoral thesis was on the state of digital accessibility in Australia and I was working on assessing 138 websites around Australia (Government – all levels, Corporate, Not-for-Profit, and Government-Affiliated). The international standards against which I was auditing the websites was this same WCAG, developed by W3C. Being involved with W3C while completing this research provided me with an inside track to the up-coming changes in the requirements.
In 2011 I applied for a Google Student Award to attend W4A (Web For All) which is a co-located conference with the W3C Web Conference – that year being held in Hyderabad, India. I was incredibly pleased and surprised to win the award, which covered most of the costs of me attending this conference. As part of the award, I was to present my PhD proposal to the W4A audience and receive feedback and comments. To my great surprise, many of the authors that I had been citing in my Literature Review were sitting in that room and offered their assistance while I did my research – an offer I happily accepted. Many of these people have become trusted friends and colleagues since that time.
After completing my PhD, I stayed on the WCAG Working Group, then also joined the Research & Development Working Group, even co-chairing this for a short time before it amalgamated with another working group. We were able to conduct some great research and sponsor some really informative webinars on all sorts of subjects related to the digital world from interactive navigation to wearable appliances and of course digital accessibility. I was also involved with writing the WCAG Evaluation Methodology which is the means developed through the W3C process to evaluate websites for accessibility.
Web Key IT was founded in 2011 and we later became a member of W3C, at the time one of only 10 Australian members. Since that time, we have continued our involvement, which has provided us with incredible opportunities – attending the Technical Plenary and Advisory Committee Meetings, working on a Road Show with W3C, having our staff on some of the different working groups, having the most up-to-date information on new standards and techniques, attending conferences and networking with leaders in the digital field all over the world. Our company has become more internationally respected because of our continued involvement with W3C.
Personally, I have benefited from having mentors and colleagues all around the globe who are interested in the work we do here. I have also been able to provide some of that mentoring and encouragement to others entering the industry. I believe that my work with W3C has contributed greatly to the recognition I have received in my industry, the support I have received from co-members, the awards I have received here in Australia, and eventually to my being recognised as a Fellow of ACS. My involvement with W3C also led to me being offered the position to write the Kuwait Digital Accessibility Framework with the United National and the Government of Kuwait, in 2018, which is an incredible privilege I will never forget.
I would strongly encourage all members of ACS to take a careful look at W3C, consider becoming involved in this important work, encourage your companies to join in the battle to lead the Web to its potential, and to continue their education with the incredible resources provided by W3C.
If you are interested in finding out more about W3C, its work and how you can become involved, you’re always welcome to talk to me, but I would suggest you contact Amanda Mace, the new Chapter Manager at email@example.com
Dr. Vivienne Conway