AccessForAll (not to be confused with this webportal) is a framework designed to define and describe resource accessibility. It currently exists as a number of specifications being developed collaboratively by a group of communities interested in interoperable metadata for describing accessibility characteristics of resources and in some contexts related user profile information.
Dublin Core metadata is designed to be easy-to-use and ubiquitous. A single DC term should convey important information that can be complemented by other metadata where suitable. For people with disabilities who use assistive technologies, very detailed metadata about their needs and the characteristics of a resource may be necessary if they are to have good access to information.
The single term ‘accessibility’ has been designed to perform the duties of a DC term for access: it warns users with limitations on their access facilities of potential problems with a resource. AccessForAll descriptions make a much greater difference and are, of course, recommended. A resource may be inaccessible to a user as it is first published, but subsequently augmented by an accessible alternative, such as a description of an image. In this case, the use of the DC accessibility term supports the addition of another term, such as has-version or has-alternative, that points to the new resource that may be useful in the circumstances.
AccessForAll is a new strategy for matching resources to the needs and preferences of individual users, especially, but not exclusively, for those with permanent disabilities. AccessForAll is a general accessibility strategy and the task for the DC community is to develop application profiles so AccessForAll can be realised across all domains in an interoperable way. The original AccessForAll work is the work of the ATRC at the University of Toronto, who have given free access to their work, and is supported by work in other fora in collaboration with the ATRC. The first version was made by IMS GLC for education, and is currently being updated to match the ISO/IEC version.
ISO JTC1 has adopted AccessForAll and the first three parts of the standard are completed. These include an introductory Part 1 (ISO/IEC 24751-1 2008); Part 2 that describes how to write descriptions of user needs and preferences for digital resources (ISO/IEC 24751-2 2008) and Part 3 describes how to write resource descriptions (ISO/IEC 24751-3 2008) for matching them to the needs and preferences; currently Part 4 & 5 (non-digital resources), Parts 6 & 7 (events and places), and Part 8 (languages) are in preparation. All parts of this ISO/IEC standard are to be available free of charge. The AccessForAll approach to accessibility has been implemented in several places, including at the University of Toronto and in the learning management product of Angel Learning.
More information is available on http://dublincore.org/accessibilitywiki/AccessForAll.