Context Properties

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This page is part of the work of the Needs and Preferences Working Group.

The tables below collect various properties describing a context of use, including aspects such as environment, situation, time, location. These are collected from other projects, standards and technologies.

As discussed in the meeting on 2012-06-26, please feel free to add relevant properties into the table.


Property name (URI) Value space Default value English description Reference to standard, project Is core?
urn:ietf:params:xml:ns:pidf:rpid:place-is For audio: noisy, ok, quiet, unknown;
for video: toobright, ok, dark, unknown;
for text (e.g. RTT): uncomfortable, inappropriate, ok, unknown.
- ("unknown" could be a suitable default) "describes properties of the place the person is currently at" RFC 4480: Place-is Element
(empty row)


Property name (URI) Value space Default value English description Reference to standard, project Is core?
urn:ietf:params:xml:ns:pidf:rpid:situation A value form the enumeration in RFC 4480, or IANA-registered values from other namespaces - "what the person is currently doing, expressed as an enumeration of activity-describing elements. A person can be engaged in multiple activities at the same time, e.g., traveling and having a meal." IETF RFC 4480: Activities Element
urn:ietf:params:xml:ns:pidf:rpid:privacy enumeration (audio, text, unknown, video) - ("unknown" could be a suitable default) "which types of communication third parties in the vicinity of the presentity are unlikely to be able to intercept accidentally or intentionally" (emphasis added) IETF RFC 4480: Privacy Element
(empty row)


Property name (URI) Value space Default value English description Reference to standard, project Is core?
urn:ietf:params:xml:ns:pidf:rpid:time-offset a positive or negative integer - "number of minutes of offset from UTC at the person's current location" RFC 4480: Time Offset
(empty row)


Property name (URI) Value space Default value English description Reference to standard, project Is core?
urn:ietf:params:xml:ns:pidf:rpid:place-type Types enumerated in RFC 4589 or additional IANA-registered values as described in RFC 4589. - "the type of place the person is currently at" RFC 4480: Place-type Element and RFC 4589
(empty row)


Property name (URI) Value space Default value English description Reference to standard, project Is core?
urn:ietf:params:xml:ns:pidf:rpid:mood At least the enumeration in XEP-0107 - "the mood of the presentity" RFC 4480: Mood Element
urn:ietf:params:xml:ns:pidf:rpid:user-input active or idle - "records the user-input or usage state of the service or device, based on human user input, e.g., keyboard, pointing device, or voice. (...) The mechanism for such aggregation is beyond the scope of this document, but generally reflects the most recent user input across all devices and services" RFC 4480: User-Input Element
(empty row)

Notes & Use Cases

Not knowing where to put these, and having no source for them, here are some instances of context that may be useful for implementing current assistive technologies and facilitating new ones.


This is an important domain in which there is already a lot of attention to the needs of people with disabilities.

  • needing to be found
  • needing to be rescued or treated as a crime victim
  • needing to tell rescuers about needs; may need real-time captioning (CART), sign language interpreter, or personal communication assistant/caregiver to help communicate
  • device(s) used by person may have been stolen or are broken, out of reach, person unable to use them
  • caregivers need to be notified


  • initiating a conversation -- getting someone's attention.
  • maintaining the conversation
  • terminating the conversation
  • communicating with 1 person vs. many people -- different implications for turn-taking
  • private conversation/whispering
  • follow-up to a conversation -- I was creating an utterance and the other person left; I can continue to construct it and email it instead.


I already bought the shoes I need and now I'm in another store about to buy another pair. Perhaps I am permitted to buy X but not Y, or permitted to buy 20 units of X but no more. Perhaps I'm allowed to spend a certain amount of money per week.

Personal care & autonomy

  • toileting and other bodily self-care
  • sex (no incoming video calls, please)
  • getting personal attendant services


  • regular learning, in the classroom vs. a lab, vs. at home
  • being tested: nothing that could work like a cheat sheet; extended timing information is automatically displayed
  • doing research with access to only specific reference materials
  • classroom sign language interpreting or CART -- the captioner or interpreter knows the specific vocabulary of the subject being taught


In general, how many cues, how much double checking, confirming, checking in with assistance do I get by default? Based on familiarity:

  • with this task
  • with this location
  • with this person
  • with this means of transportation or route

Relationship management

  • Who is this person?
  • What kind of relationship is it?
  • What are some relevant details about this person?
  • How recently did I communicate with this person?
  • What did we discuss?
  • What business did we transact?
  • What are his/her/my expectations? Did either of us accomplish any items since we last interacted?

Multipart task: an activity whose goal is accomplished on several devices or over several sessions. For example, I use a calculator, then transfer the answer to a tax form.

Schedule context -- different performance requirements if I am free the whole day vs. have an appointment in 5 minutes.