What does Society of Typographic Aficionados (SOTA) have in common with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)? TypeCon.

This week at SOTA’s annual conference, W3C plans on initiating discussion around the new open format for enabling high-quality typography for the Web.

Improving Web Fonts Accessibility with WOFF

The new open format, known as the Web Open File Format (WOFF 1.0), allows web designers to improve the readability, accessibility and search optimization of the typography they employ. Bringing together various browser vendors, foundries and font service providers, WOFF works to advance web typography.

Why the concern for the future of web typography? Because designers face some limits when it comes to designing. There are only so many fonts deemed “web-safe” and yet in order to create fun and engaging designs, like those done in the print industry, many of those fonts and typefaces lack an interoperable format supported by different browsers and the lack of practical web font licensing options.

Thanks to WOFF, browser companies and font vendors will start to make their fonts available for licensing, creating more rich typographic choices for content creators, web authors and brand managers.

Rich typographic choices means better readability, as well as the ability for text to be rendered as speech, making it easier to people who are blind or with low vision to access the content. Approved and licensed fonts will also be discoverable via search engines and in multiple languages for global audiences, making it possible to create content for the web in more of the world's languages.

Facilitating Collaboration & Discussion

Already, many browsers have begun to support WOFF. Since October 2009, Apple, Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, Opera, and the font editor FontForge have been adding and refining support for the technology.

WOFF typefaces are already available from some commercial foundries, as well as other contributing members from Adobe, Bitstream, LettError, Monotype Imaging, Open Font Library, Tiro Typeworks, and Type Supply.

On Friday, August 20, members of the Web Fonts Working Group will participate in a panel at TypeCon 2010. All conference attendees are encouraged to participate and discuss the advantages and practicalities of adopting this open standard for Web typography.