Requirements for WAI-Adapt specification


This specification is designed to enable authors to add extra information about content, to enable personalization for the individual user, including providing extra support and enabling new user agents for people with learning and cognitive disabilities.

Adding the semantics in these specifications enable user agents to adapt the content for the individual needs of the user. These adaptations may include:

WAI-Adapt enables the author the ability to keep their original design intact, whilst enabling personalized experiences for different users via different user agents. This is important because:

Note that this work is limited to adding information about the content. The design of the user agents is outside the scope of this work.

Web developers using HTML and other documents to add supporting syntax that provides the extra information, help, and context.

For example: Revert

It is envisioned that user agents such as browser extensions and assistive technology use the syntax to manipulate the content to meet the user’s need. For example, the user agent may also use user preferences for different interface options – either for the individual or as a popular “skin”. Alternatively, the web author can also include an open-source script that enables the personalization for the user. However, it is up to the implementers how the semantics are used. Examples of implementations are at

The latest working draft of the semantics and work-in-progress are available at

WAI-Adapt Features

Familiar Terms and Symbols

Common concepts used in controls should be machine understandable so the user agent or script should understand the context of links, buttons, and fields and other page elements so that symbols and text is displayed in a way each user understands.

Implemented in module 1, Adaptable Content.

Symbol Sets

Enable text symbols and text to be mapped and converted into different set of symbols.

Create interoperable symbol sets for users with complex communication needs that require the use of Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) systems. AAC systems are designed for people who are non-verbal that often use symbols with or without text. AAC end-users tend to only learn one symbol set and cannot easily communicate with other symbol users in a written format. In addition, they may struggle to understand different symbols that are used in different applications. It's important to note that some symbols may be subject to copyright, which means they cannot be shared across applications. However, there are open symbol sets that can be shared and mapped against concepts, generating representative text.

Implemented in module 1, Adaptable Content.

Enable alternatives for numeric concepts

Not everyone can understand numeric concepts and numbers. We need to allow alternatives for numeric content.

Implemented in module 2, Adaptable Help and Support.

Importance identification

There must be a mechanism to identify and differentiate the features included in web content based on its importance (e.g. critical, high, medium, low).

Implemented in module 1, Adaptable Content.

Enable Alternate Language Complexity of Same Content

Support for Authors to provide a simplified version of the page or of a section of a page. These alternative versions may not be identical in content but maintain the intent of the original content.

Implemented in module 2, Adaptable Help and Support.

Enable Alternate for Non-Literal Content

Some users cannot understand non-literal text and icons such as metaphors, idioms etc. The literal property is intended to identify text or images as non-literal and allows the author to explain non-literal text and images to users.

Implemented in module 2, Adaptable Help and Support.

Enable Additional Help Information

We propose additional properties so that an author can indicate the existence of additional information, that some user groups may need, but others will find unnecessary.

Implemented in module 2, Adaptable Help and Support.

Enable Additional Feedback

Support additional properties where the author can provide additional information or explain what just happened, that some users may need.

Implemented in module 2, Adaptable Help and Support.

Step Indicator

Support to users must be able to track completed tasks in order to identify their location in a process. In addition, a user must be able to navigate to completed tasks to make modifications or corrections.

Implemented in module 3, Adaptable Tools.

Message Categorization

A mechanism for managing both system level and application level reminders and messages for users who are sensitive to distractions. We require a group of defined values that give users control over the number of reminders and messages that are presented along with a mechanism for managing, prioritizing, and grouping reminders and messages.

Implemented in module 3, Adaptable Tools.