Techniques for Authoring Tool Accessibility

W3C Working Draft 26 October 1999

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Jutta Treviranus - ATRC, University of Toronto
Jan Richards - University of Toronto
Ian Jacobs - W3C
Charles McCathieNevile - W3C


This document contains example techniques and references to further information, as an informative aid to developers seeking to implement the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines [WAI-AUTOOLS]. The guidelines and checkpoints of that document are included for convenience.

This document is part of a series of accessibility documents published by the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative.

Status of this document

This section describes the status of this document at the time of its publication. Other documents may supersede this document. The latest status of this document series is maintained at the W3C.

This is a Working Draft of the Techniques for Authoring Tool Accessibility. This draft follows the Working Group meeting on 20 October 1999. For further information consult the minutes of Working Group Meetings.

This is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or rendered obsolete by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use W3C Working Drafts as reference material or to cite them as other than "work in progress". This is work in progress and does not imply endorsement by either W3C or its Member organizations.

The goals of the WAI AU Working Group are discussed in the WAI AU charter.

Please send general comments about this document to the public mailing list: w3c-wai-au@w3.org, archived at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-au

A list of the current AU Working Group participants is available.

A list of current W3C Recommendations and other technical documents can be found at http://www.w3.org/TR.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

This document complements the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines [WAI-AUTOOLS]. Although it reproduces the guidelines and checkpoints from that document it is not a normative reference; the techniques introduced here are not required for conformance to the Guidelines. The document contains suggested implementation techniques, examples, and references to other sources of information as an aid to developers seeking to implement the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines. These techniques are not necessarily the only way of fulfilling the checkpoint, nor are they necessarily a definitive set of requirements for fulfilling a checkpoint. It is expected to be updated in response to queries raised by implementors of the Guidelines, for example to cover new technologies. Suggestions for additional techniques are welcome and should be sent to the Working Group mailing list at w3c-wai-au@w3.org. The archive of that list at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-au is also available.

To understand the accessibility issues relevant to authoring tool design, consider that many users may be creating documents in contexts very different from your own:

In addition, accessible design will benefit many people who do not have a physical disability but with similar needs. For example they may be working in a noisy environment and unable to hear, or need to use their eyes for another task, and be unable to view a screen. They may be using a small mobile device, with a small screen, no keyboard and no mouse.

1.1 How the Techniques are organized.

This document has the same structure as the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines ([WAI-AUTOOLS]). Each Guideline and checkpoint from that Document is listed, in the same order, with techniques for implementing them, further references, and other information that the working group considers useful for implementing the guidelines but not a normative (required) part of the guidelines themselves. For some guidelines there are techniques or information that are relevant to the entire guideline. These are provided at the end of the section for the relevant guideline.

Some of the techniques describe the implementation of a checkpoint in a real HTML editing tool - W3C's WYSIWYG HTML editor Amaya [AMAYA], the image editor Sketch ([SKETCH]), and Microsoft's Word 2000. The Amaya techniques are also available as single "sample implementation" documents [AMAYA-SAMPLE], and it is anticipated that some other sample implementations will be handled in the same way in future drafts.

Each checkpoint is intended to be specific enough that it can be verified, while being sufficiently general to allow developers the freedom to use the most appropriate strategies to meet the checkpoint.

1.2 Checkpoint Priorities

Each checkpoint has a priority level. The priority level reflects the impact of the checkpoint in meeting the goals of this specification. These goals are:

The three priority levels are assigned as follows:

[Priority 1]
If the checkpoint is essential to meeting the goals
[Priority 2]
If the checkpoint is important to meeting the goals
[Priority 3]
If the checkpoint is beneficial to meeting the goals
[Relative Priority]

Some checkpoints that refer to generating, authoring, or checking Web content have multiple priorities. The priority is dependent on the priority in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines [WAI-WEBCONTENT].

For example providing text equivalents for images and audio is a priority 1 requirement in [WAI-WEBCONTENT] since without it one or more groups will find it impossible to access the information. Therefore, it is a priority 1 requirement for the authoring tool to check for (4.1) or ask the author for (3.1) equivalent alternatives for these types of content. Expansion of abbreviations and acronyms with ABBR and ACRONYM elements by using the "title" attribute is a priority 3 in [WAI-WEBCONTENT]. Therefore, it is only priority 3 for the authoring tool to check for (4.1) or ask the author for (3.2) this information.

  • It is priority 1 to implement the checkpoint for content features that are a priority 1 requirement in [WAI-WEBCONTENT].
  • It is priority 2 to implement the checkpoint for content features that are a priority 2 requirement in [WAI-WEBCONTENT].
  • It is priority 3 to implement the checkpoint for content features that are a priority 3 requirement in [WAI-WEBCONTENT].

2 Guidelines

Guideline 1. Support accessible authoring practices

If the tool automatically generates markup, many authors will be unaware of the accessibility status of the final content unless they expend extra effort to make appropriate corrections by hand. Since many authors are unfamiliar with accessibility, the onus is on the authoring tool to generate accessible markup, and where appropriate, to guide the author in producing accessible content.

Many applications feature the ability to convert documents from other formats (e.g., Rich Text Format) into a markup format specifically intended for the Web such as HTML. Markup changes may also be made to facilitate efficient editing and manipulation. It is essential that these processes do not introduce inaccessible markup, or remove accessibility content, particularly since the markup changes are hidden from the author's view in many tools.


1.1 Ensure that the author can produce accessible content in the markup language(s) supported by the tool. [Priority 1]
1.2 Ensure that the tool preserves all accessibility information during authoring, transformations and conversions. [Priority 1]
1.3 Ensure that the tool generates markup that conforms to the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines [WAI-WEBCONTENT]. [Relative Priority]
1.4 Ensure that templates provided by the tool conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines [WAI-WEBCONTENT]. [Relative Priority]

Guideline 2. Generate standard markup

Conformance with standards promotes interoperability and accessibility, by making it easier to create specialized user agents that address the needs of users with disabilities. In particular many assistive technologies used with browsers and multimedia players are only able to provide access to Web documents that use valid markup. Therefore, valid markup is an essential aspect of authoring tool accessibility.

Where applicable use W3C Recommendations, which have been reviewed to ensure accessibility and interoperability. If there are no applicable W3C Recommendations, use a published standard that enables accessibility.


2.1 Use the latest versions of W3C Recommendations when they are available and appropriate for a task. [Priority 2]
W3C specifications have undergone review specifically to ensure that they do not compromise accessibility, and where possible they enhance it.
2.2 Ensure that the tool generates valid markup. [Priority 1]
This is necessary for user agents to be able to render Web content in a manner appropriate to a particular user's needs.
2.3 If markup generated by the tool does not conform to W3C specifications, inform the author. [Priority 3]

Guideline 3. Support the creation of accessible content

Well structured information, and equivalent alternative information are cornerstones of accessible design, allowing information to be presented in a way most appropriate for the needs of the user without constraining the creativity of the author. Yet generating equivalent information, such as textual alternatives for images and audio descriptions of video, can be one of the most challenging aspects of Web design, and authoring tool developers should attempt to facilitate and automate the mechanics of this process. For example, prompting authors to include equivalent alternative information such as text equivalents, captions, and auditory descriptions at appropriate times can greatly ease the burden for authors. Where such information can be mechanically determined and offered as a choice for the author (e.g., the function of icons in an automatically-generated navigation bar, or expansion of acronyms from a dictionary) the tool can assist the author. At the same time it can reinforce the need for such information and the author's role in ensuring that it is used appropriately in each instance.


3.1 Prompt the author to provide equivalent alternative information (e.g., captions, auditory descriptions and collated text transcripts for video). [Relative Priority]
3.2 Help the author create structured content and separate information from its presentation. [Relative Priority]
3.3 Ensure that prepackaged content conforms to [WAI-WEBCONTENT]. [Relative Priority]
For example include synchronized text and audio equivalents (such as video captions) with movies. Refer also to checkpoint 3.4.
3.4 Do not insert automatically generated or place-holder equivalent alternatives. [Priority 1]
For example, "search" may be appropriate alternative text for a graphic button linked to a search function, but the filename of an image should not be inserted as a default.

Note. Human-authored equivalent alternatives may be available for an object (for example through checkpoint 3.5 and/or checkpoint 3.3). It is appropriate for the tool to offer these to the author as defaults.

3.5 Provide a mechanism to manage alternative information for multimedia objects, that retains and offers for editing pre-written or previously linked equivalent alternative information. [Priority 3]

Guideline 4. Provide ways of checking and correcting inaccessible content

Many authoring tools allow authors to create documents with little or no knowledge about the underlying markup. To ensure accessibility, authoring tools must be designed so that they can automatically identify inaccessible markup, and enable its correction even when the markup itself is hidden from the author.

In supporting the creation of accessible Web content, authoring tools should take into account differing authoring styles. In general, authors will prefer to be able to configure their tools to support their working style. Tools that allow such configuration can help authors to feel that accessible authoring is a natural practice (refer to guideline 5) rather than an intrusion on their normal work pattern. For example some users may prefer to be alerted to accessibility problems when they occur, whereas others may prefer to perform a check at the end of an editing session. This is analogous to programming environments that allow users to decide whether to check for correct code during editing or at compile time.

Note. Validation of markup is an essential aspect of checking the accessibility of content.


4.1 Check for and alert the author to accessibility problems. [Relative Priority]
Note: Some accessibility problems cannot be detected automatically, and will require the user to make decisions.
4.2 Assist authors in correcting accessibility problems. [Relative Priority]
At a minimum, provide context-sensitive help with the accessibility checking required by 4.1
4.3 Allow the author to preserve markup not recognized by the tool. [Priority 2]
Note. The author may have included or imported markup that enhances accessibility but is not recognized by the tool.
4.4 Provide the author with a summary of the document's accessibility status. [Priority 3]
4.5 Allow the author to transform presentation markup that is misused to convey structure into structural markup, and to transform presentation markup that is stylistic into style sheets. [Priority 3]

Techniques for this guideline:

Guideline 5. Integrate accessibility solutions into the overall "look and feel"

When a new feature is added to an existing software tool without proper integration, the result is often an obvious discontinuity. Differing color schemes, fonts, interaction styles and even application stability can be factors affecting user acceptance of the new feature. In addition, the relative prominence of different ways to achieve the same thing can be an important factor in which method an author chooses. Therefore, it is important that creating accessible content is a natural process when using an authoring tool.


5.1 Ensure that functions related to accessible authoring practices are naturally integrated into the tool. [Priority 2]
5.2 Ensure that [WAI-WEBCONTENT] Priority 1 accessible authoring practices are among the most obvious and easily initiated by the author. [Priority 2]

Guideline 6. Promote accessibility in help and documentation

The issues surrounding the creation of accessible Web content are often unknown to Web authors. Help and documentation include explanations of accessibility problems, and should demonstrate solutions with examples.


6.1 Document all features that promote the production of accessible content. [Priority 1]
6.2 Ensure that creating accessible content is a naturally integrated part of the documentation, including examples. [Priority 2]
6.3 In a dedicated section, document all features of the tool that promote the production of accessible content. [Priority 3]

Guideline 7. Ensure that the authoring tool is accessible to authors with disabilities

The authoring tool is a software program with standard user interface elements and as such must be designed according to relevant user interface accessibility guidelines.

Some additional user interface design considerations apply specifically to Web authoring tools. For instance, authoring tools must ensure that the author can edit (in the editing view) using one set of stylistic preferences and publish using different styles. For instance, authors with low vision may need large text when editing but want to publish with a smaller default text size. The style preferences of the editing view must not affect the markup of the published document.

Authoring tools must also ensure that the author can navigate a document efficiently while editing, regardless of disability. Authors who use screen readers, refreshable braille displays, or screen magnifiers can make limited use (if at all) of graphical artifacts that communicate the structure of the document and act as signposts when traversing it. For authors with blindness or motor impairments, fatigue and other problems that arise when serial access is the only navigation technique are major usability issues. Authoring tools should therefore provide an editing view that conveys a sense of the overall structure and allows structured navigation.

Note. Documentation, help files, and installation are part of the software and need to be available in an accessible form.


7.1 Use all applicable operating system and accessibility standards and conventions (Priority 1 for standards and conventions that are essential to accessibility, Priority 2 for those that are important to accessibility, Priority 3 for those that are beneficial to accessibility). [Priority 1]
The techniques for this checkpoint include references to checklists and guidelines for a number of platforms and to general guidelines for accessible applications.
  • Not all of the guidelines and checklists for application accessibility are prioritized according to their impact on Accessibility. For instance the priorities in [MS-SOFTWARE] are partially determined by a logo requirement program. Therefore developers may need to compare the documents they are using to other guidelines. [WAI-WEBCONTENT] and [WAI-USERAGENT] both have priority systems that are directly compatible with the priorities in [WAI-AUTOOLS].
  • Guidelines for specific platforms include
    1. "IBM Guidelines for Writing Accessible Applications Using 100% Pure Java" [JAVA-ACCESS] R. Schwerdtfeger, IBM Special Needs Systems.
    2. "An ICE Rendezvous Mechanism for X Window System Clients" [ICE-RAP], W. Walker. A description of how to use the ICE and RAP protocols for X Window clients.
    3. "Information for Developers About Microsoft Active Accessibility" [MSAA] Microsoft Corporation.
    4. "The Inter-Client communication conventions manual" [ICCCM]. A protocol for communication between clients in the X Window system.
    5. "Lotus Notes accessibility guidelines" [NOTES-ACCESS] IBM Special Needs Systems.
    6. "Java accessibility guidelines and checklist" [JAVA-CHECKLIST] IBM Special Needs Systems.
    7. "The Java Tutorial. Trail: Creating a GUI with JFC/Swing" [JAVA-TUT]. An online tutorial that describes how to use the Swing Java Foundation Class to build an accessible User Interface.
    8. "Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines" [APPLE-HI] Apple Computer Inc.
    9. "The Microsoft Windows Guidelines for Accessible Software Design" [MS-SOFTWARE].
  • Guidelines for specific software types include
    1. "The Three-tions of Accessibility-Aware HTML Authoring Tools" [ACCESS-AWARE], J. Richards.
    2. "User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (Working Draft)" J. Gunderson, I. Jacobs eds. (This is a work in progress) [WAI-USERAGENT]
  • General guidelines for producing accessible software include:
    1. "Accessibility for applications designers" [MS-ENABLE] Microsoft Corporation.
    2. "Application Software Design Guidelines" [TRACE-REF] compiled by G. Vanderheiden. A thorough reference work.
    3. "Designing for Accessibility" [SUN-DESIGN] Eric Bergman and Earl Johnson. This paper discusses specific disabilities including those related to hearing, vision, and cognitive function.
    4. "EITAAC Desktop Software standards" [EITAAC] Electronic Information Technology Access Advisory (EITACC) Committee.
    5. "Requirements for Accessible Software Design" [ED-DEPT] US Department of Education, version 1.1 March 6, 1997.
    6. "Software Accessibility" [IBM-ACCESS] IBM Special Needs Systems
    7. "Towards Accessible Human-Computer Interaction" [SUN-HCI] Eric Bergman, Earl Johnson, Sun Microsytems 1995. A substantial paper, with a valuable print bibliography.
    8. "What is Accessible Software" [WHAT-IS] James W. Thatcher, Ph.D., IBM, 1997. This paper gives a short example-based introduction to the difference between software that is accessible, and software that can be used by some assistive technologies.
  • User Interfaces are sometimes built as Web content, and as such should follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines [WAI-WEBCONTENT]. Refer also to 1.
  • The following are common requirements for producing accessible software. This list does not necessarily cover all requirements for all platforms, and items may not be applicable to some software.

    Following Standards

    • Draw text and objects using system conventions
    • Make mouse, keyboard, and API activation of events consistent
    • Provide a User Interface that is "familiar" (to system standards, or across platform)
    • Use system standard indirections and APIs wherever possible
    • Ensure all dialogs, subwindows, etc meet these requirements
    • Avoid blocking assistive technology functions (sticky/mouse keys, screenreader controls, etc) where possible


    • Allow users to create profiles
    • Allow control of timing, colors, sizes, input/output devices and media
    • Allow users to reshape the user interface - customize toolbars, keyboard commands, etc

    Input Device Independence

    • Provide Keyboard access to all functions
    • Document all keyboard bindings
    • Provide customizable keyboard shortcuts for common functions
    • Provide logical navigation order for the keyboard interface.
    • Avoid repetitive keying wherever possible
    • Provide mouse access to functions where possible

    Icons, Graphics, Sounds

    • Provide graphical (text) equivalents for sound warnings
    • Allow sounds to be turned off
    • Provide text equivalents for images/icons
    • Use customizable (or removable) colors/patterns
    • Ensure high contrast is available (as default setting)
    • Provide text equivalents for all audio
    • Use icons that are resizeable or available in multiple sizes


    • Do not rely on color alone for meaning. Use color for differentiation, in combination with accessible cues (text equivalents, natural language, etc)
    • Position related text labels and objects consistently, and in an obvious manner (labels before objects is recommended)
    • Group related controls
    • Ensure default window sizes fit in screen
    • Allow for window resizing (very small to very large)

    User Focus

    • Clearly identify the user focus (and expose it via API)
    • Unexpected events should not be caused by viewing content (for example by moving the focus to a new point)
    • Allow user control of timing - delays, time-dependent response, etc
    • Allow for navigation between as well as within windows

    2.7.1 Documentation

    • Provide documentation for all features of the tool
    • Ensure that help functions are accessible
  • Amaya is currently available for two platforms: Unix and Windows. There is some work required on both platforms to bring it into line with conventions, in particular to provide conformance with the User Agent Guidelines [WAI-USERAGENT], and to implement Microsoft Active Accessibility [MSAA]. It is being re-written to take advantage of the improved accessibility support possible in Gnome (it currently uses Motif) in the Unix version. The Documentation is all available online as HTML and has been reviewed to ensure it conforms to [WAI-WEBCONTENT].
  • Sketch uses standard APIs, provides help documentation in HTML that is not completely accessible, and fails to provide full accessibility to some functions.
  • Word seems to conform to this checkpoint well.
7.2 Allow the author to change the presentation within editing views without affecting the document markup. [Priority 1]
This allows the author to edit the document according to personal requirements, without changing the way the document is rendered when published.
7.3 Allow the author to edit all properties of each element and object in an accessible fashion. [Priority 1]
7.4 Ensure the editing view allows navigation via the structure of the document in an accessible fashion. [Priority 1]
7.5 Enable editing of the structure of the document in an accessible fashion. [Priority 2]
7.6 Allow the author to search within editing views. [Priority 2]

3 Appendix - Sample Implementations

The Sample Implementations are collections of the above techniques for a specific type of tool. They have been developed to illustrate how the design principles embodied in the guidelines sections can be applied in various types of authoring tool.

3.1 Amaya

Amaya [AMAYA] is the W3C's testbed Web authoring/browsing platform. Its default editing view is WYSIWYG-style. The sample implementation [AMAYA-SAMPLE] outlines how Amaya Release version 2.1 conforms to the 3 September 1999 draft of the guidelines, and plans for improving conformance. Note. Amaya is developed as a proof of concept for a number of specifications, not a product for market.

3.2 Sketch

Sketch [SKETCH] is an open-source image editor. The version tested is 0.6.2, which provides an experimental SVG import/export functionality, although it only implements a few SVG elements as a proof of concept. It is written in python to enable easy user extension (and how to do this is well-documented).

3.3 The A-prompt Tool

The A-prompt tool [APROMPT] is an example tool that allows for checking of many accessibility features in HTML pages, and incorporates an "Alternative Information Management Mechanism" Refer also to checkpoint 3.5. to manage equivalent alternative information for known resources. The tool is built in such a way that the functions can be incorporated into an authoring tool.

3.4 Alt-Text for the HTML 4.0 IMG Element

"Alt-text" is generally considered the most important aid to HTML accessibility. For this reason, the issue of "alt-text" has been chosen as the subject for an extended technique based on a hypothetical implementation.

7 Ensure that the authoring tool is accessible to authors with disabilities
Implementation: The author can edit the document using the alternative information of the image in its place, and can access all the properties of the image (height, width, etc)
2 Generate standard markup
Implementation: In any markup produced, the IMG element is always properly formed as defined in the HTML4 specification. This means that the element contains both a "src" attribute and an "alt" attribute.
1 Support accessible authoring practices
Implementation: Due to the [WEB-CONTENT-PRIORITY] recommendation status of "alt-text" in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, special attention will be devoted to prompting and guiding the user toward full "alt" coverage. The authoring tool has the capability of opening and converting word processor documents into HTML. If an image is encountered during this process, the user will be prompted for "alt-text". The authoring tool sometimes makes changes to the HTML it works with to allow more efficient manipulation. These changes never result in the removal or modification of "alt-text" entries.
3 Support the creation of accessible content
Implementation: The authoring tool is shipped with many ready-to-use clip art and other images. For each of these images a short "alt-text" string and a longer description have been pre-written and stored in an "alt-text" registry. When the user selects one of these images for insertion, the alternative text and long description are offered for editing and approval. Whenever the user includes another image, the tool keeps the reference to that image and the associated "alt-text" and long description in the "alt-text registry". When a text alternative offered by the tool is edited, the tool adds the new text to the registry, and offers both entries when the image is used again. There is an option to mark any entry as the default.
5 Integrate accessibility solutions into the overall "look and feel"
Implementation: At no point do "alt-text" requests appear on their own or in a non-standard manner. Instead "alt-text" notices and emphasis appear as integrated and necessary as the "src" attribute.
4 Provide ways of checking and correcting inaccessible content
Implementation: If the user opens content or pastes in markup containing an IMG element that lacks "alt-text", the author is prompted to add them. The tool can be configured to prompt as soon as an error is detected, or to provide a highlight mark where these errors occur and to prompt when the author is saving or publishing a document. The default prompt includes prompting for a long description of each image.
6 Promote accessibility in help and documentation
Implementation: Whenever missing "alt-text" is flagged (anywhere in the tool suite) the same quick explanation, extended help, and examples are offered. The help documentation for inserting images and image maps includes providing alternative text as part of the necessary steps, and describes how to determine appropriate alternative text in the same section. Examples of images and image-maps all have alternative text included, and images have long descriptions.

4 Glossary of Terms and Definitions

Accessibility (Also: Accessible)
Within these guidelines, "accessible Web content" and "accessible authoring tool" mean that the content and tool can be used by people regardless of disability.
To understand the accessibility issues relevant to authoring tool design, consider that many users may be creating content in contexts very different from your own:
Accessible design will benefit people in these different authoring scenarios and also many people who do not have a physical disability but who have similar needs. For example, someone may be working in a noisy environment and thus require an alternative representation of audio information. Similarly, someone may be working in an eyes-busy environment and thus require an audio equivalent to information they cannot view. Users of small mobile devices (with small screens, no keyboard, and no mouse) have similar functional needs as some users with disabilities.
Accessibility Awareness
An accessibility-aware application is one that has been designed to account for users' differing needs, abilities, and technologies. In the case of authoring tools, this means that (1) care has been taken to ensure that the content produced by user-authors is accessible and (2) that the user interface has been designed to be usable with a variety of display and control technologies.
Accessibility Information
Accessibility information is content, including information and markup, that is used to improve the accessibility of a document. Accessibility information includes, but is not limited to, equivalent alternative information.
Accessibility Problem (Also: Inaccessible Markup)
Inaccessible Web content or authoring tools cannot be used by some people with disabilities. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines [WAI-WEBCONTENT] describes how to create accessible Web content.
Accessible Authoring Practice
Practices that improve the accessibility of Web content. Both authors and tools engage in accessible authoring practices. For example, authors write clearly, structure their content, provide navigation aids, etc. Tools generate valid markup and assist authors in providing and managing appropriate equivalent alternatives.
An alert draws the author's attention to an event or situation. It may require a response from the author. An alert warns the author that there are problems that need to be addressed. Attracting the user's attention artfully can be challenging, since user perceptions of alerts, prompts, and warnings can influence opinions of the tool and even of accessible authoring.
An Unintrusive Alert is an alert such as an icon, underlining, or gentle sound that can be presented to the user without necessitating immediate action. For example, in some word processors misspelled text is highlighted without forcing the user to make immediate corrections. These alerts allow users to continue editing with the knowledge that problems will be easy to identify at a later time. However, users may become annoyed at the extra formatting or may choose to ignore the alerts altogether.
An Interruptive Alert is an informative message that interrupts the editing process for the user. For example, interruptive alerts are often presented when a user's action could cause a loss of data. Interruptive alerts allow problems to be brought to the user's attention immediately. However, users may resent the constant delays and forced actions. Many people prefer to finish expressing an idea before returning to edit its format.
Alternative Information (Also: Equivalent Alternative)
Content is "equivalent" to other content when both fulfill essentially the same function or purpose upon presentation to the user. Equivalent alternatives play an important role in accessible authoring practices since certain types of content may not be accessible to all users (e.g., video, images, audio, etc.). Authors are encouraged to provide text equivalents for non-text content since text may be rendered as synthesized speech for individuals who have visual or learning disabilities, as braille for individuals who are blind, or as graphical text for individuals who are deaf or do not have a disability. For more information about equivalent alternatives, please refer to [WAI-WEBCONTENT].
Text equivalents for still images can be short ("Site Map Link") or long (e.g., "Figure 4 shows that the population of bacteria doubled approximately every twenty hours over the first one hundred hours, increasing from about 1000 per milliliter to about 32,000 per milliliter."). Text equivalents for audio clips are called "text transcripts". Captions are essential text equivalents for movie audio. Another essential text equivalent for a movie is a "collated text transcript." An essential non-text equivalent for movies is "auditory description" of the key graphical elements of a presentation.
This document uses the term "attribute" as used in SGML and XML ([XML]): Element types may be defined as having any number of attributes. In the following example, the attributes of the beverage element type are "flavour", which has the value "lots", and "colour", which has the value "red":
<beverage flavour="lots" colour="red">my favourite</beverage>
Some attributes are integral to document accessibility (e.g., the "alt", "title", and "longdesc" attributes in HTML.
Auditory Description
An auditory description provides information about actions, body language, graphics, and scene changes in a video. They are commonly used by people who are blind or have low vision, although they may also be used as a low-bandwidth equivalent on the Web. An auditory description is either a pre-recorded human voice or a synthesized voice (recorded or generated on the fly). The auditory description must be synchronized with the audio track of a video presentation, usually during natural pauses in the audio track.
Authoring Tool
An authoring tool is any software that is used to generate content for publishing on the Web. Authoring tools include:
Automated Markup Insertion Function
Automated markup insertion functions are the features of an authoring tool that allow the user to produce markup without directly typing it. This includes a wide range of tools from simple markup insertion aids (such as a bold button on a toolbar) to markup managers (such as table makers that include powerful tools such as "split cells" that can make multiple changes) to high level site building wizards that produce almost complete documents on the basis of a series of user preferences.
Captions are essential text equivalents for movie audio. Captions consist of a text transcript of the audio track of the movie (or other video presentation) that is synchronized with the video and audio tracks. Captions are generally rendered graphically and benefit people who can see but are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or cannot hear the audio.
Conversion Tool
A conversion tool is any application or application feature that allows content in some other format (proprietary or not) to be converted automatically into a particular markup language. This includes software whose primary function is to convert documents to a particular markup language as well as "save as HTML" (or other markup language) features in non-markup applications.
Current User Selection
When several views co-exist, each may have a user selection, but only one is active, called the current user selection. The selections may be rendered specially (e.g., graphically highlighted).
Description Link (D-link)
A description link, or D-Link, is an author-supplied link to additional information about a piece of content that might otherwise be difficult to access (image, applet, video, etc.).
A document is a series of elements that are defined by a markup language (e.g., HTML 4.0 or an XML application).
Editing an element
Editing an element involves making changes to one or more of an element's attributes or properties. This applies to all editing, including, but not limited to, direct coding in a text editing mode, making changes to a property dialog or direct User Interface manipulation.
Editing View
A view provided by the authoring tool that allows editing. Some authoring tools will have several different types of view, and some allow views of several documents at once.
An element is any identifiable object within a document, for example a character, word, image, paragraph or spreadsheet cell. In [HTML40] and [XML], an element refers to a pair of tags and their content, or an "empty" tag - one that requires no closing tag or content.
The focus designates the active element (e.g., link, form control, element with associated scripts, etc.) in a view that will react when the user next interacts with the document.
Generation Tool
A Generation Tool is a program or script that produces automatic markup "on the fly" by following a template or set of rules. The generation may be performed on either the server or client side.
Image Editor
A graphics program that provides a variety of options for altering images of different formats.
Inserting an element
Inserting an element involves placing that element's markup within the markup of the file. This applies to all insertions, including, but not limited to, direct coding in a text editing mode, choosing an automated insertion from a pull-down menu or tool bar button, "drag-and-drop" style insertions, or "paste" operations.
Markup Language
Authors encode information using a markup language such as HTML ([HTML40]), SVG ([SVG]), or MathML ([MATHML]).
Multimedia Authoring Tool
Software that facilitates integration of diverse media elements into an comprehensive presentation format. Multimedia includes video, audio, images, animations, simulations, and other interactive components.
A prompt is a request for user input, either information or a decision. A prompt requires author response. For example, an "alt-text" entry field prominently displayed in an image insertion dialog would constitute a prompt. Prompts can be used to encourage authors to provide information needed to make content accessible (such as alternative text equivalents).
A property is a piece of information about an element, for example structural information (e.g., it is item number 7 in a list, or plain text) or presentation information (e.g., that it is marked as bold, its font size is 14). In XML and HTML, properties of an element include the name of the element (e.g., IMG or DL), the values of its attributes, and information associated by means of a style sheet. In a database, properties of a particular element may include values of the entry, and acceptable data types for that element.
Publishing Tool
A tool that allows content to be uploaded in an integrated fashion. Sometimes these tools makes changes such as local hyper-reference modifications. Although these tools sometimes stand alone, they may also be integrated into site management tools.
Rendered Content
The rendered content is that which an element actually causes to be rendered by the user agent. This may differ from the element's structural content. For example, some elements cause external data to be rendered (e.g., the IMG element in [HTML40]), and in some cases, browsers may render the value of an attribute (e.g., "alt", "title") in place of the element's content.
Rendered View, Preview
What is rendered by the authoring tool to the author as a means of simulating how a user of the document being edited will interact with the document currently being edited as a published document.
A selection is a set of elements identified for a particular operation. The user selection identifies a set of elements for certain types of user interaction (e.g., cut, copy, and paste operations). The user selection may be established by the user (e.g., by a pointing device or the keyboard) or via an accessibility Application Programmatic Interface (API). A view may have several selections, but only one user selection.
Site Management Tool
A tool that provides an overview of an entire Web site indicating hierarchical structure. It will facilitate management through functions that may include automatic index creation, automatic link updating, and broken link checking.
A transcript is a line by line record of sounds within an audio clip, or an audio track from a video clip. A collated text transcript for a video combines (collates) caption text with text descriptions of video information (descriptions of the actions, body language, graphics, and scene changes of the video track). Collated text transcripts are essential for individuals who are deaf-blind and rely on braille for access to movies and other content.
A process that changes a document or object into another, equivalent, object according to a discrete set of rules. This includes any application or application feature that allows content which is marked up in a particular markup language to be transformed into another markup language, such as a conversion tool, software that allows the author to change the DTD defined for the original document to another DTD, and the ability to change the markup of lists and convert them into tables.
User Agent
An application that retrieves and renders Web content. User agents include browsers, plug-ins for a particular media type, and some assistive technologies.
User-Configurable Schedule
A user-configurable schedule allows the user to determine the type of prompts and alerts that are used, including when they are presented. For example, a user may wish to include multiple images without being prompted for alternative information, and then provide the alternative information in a batch process, or may wish to be reminded each time they add an image. If the prompting is done on a user-configurable schedule they will be able to make that decision themselves. This technique allows a tool to suit the needs a wide range of authors.
Video Editor
A tool that facilitates the process of manipulating video images. Video editing includes cutting segments (trimming), re-sequencing clips, and adding transitions and other special effects.
Authoring tools may render the same content in a variety of ways; each rendering is called a view. For instance, one view may show raw markup, a second may show a structured tree, a third may show markup with rendered objects while a final view shows an example of how the document may appear if it were to be rendered by a particular browser. A typical way to distinguish views in a graphic environment is to place each in a separate window.

5 Acknowledgments

Many thanks to the following people who have contributed through review and comment: Jim Allan, Denis Anson, Kitch Barnicle, Kynn Bartlett, Harvey Bingham, Judy Brewer, Carl Brown, Dick Brown, Wendy Chisholm, Rob Cumming, Daniel Dardailler, Mark Day, BK Delong, Martin Dürst, Kelly Ford, Jamie Fox, Edna French, Sylvain Galineau, Al Gilman, Eric Hansen, Phill Jenkins, Len Kasday, Brian Kelly, Marja-Riitta Koivunen, Sho Kuwamoto, Jaap van Lelieveld, William Loughborough, Karen McCall, Charles Oppermann, Dave Pawson, Dave Poehlman, Bruce Roberts, Chris Ridpath, Gregory Rosmaita, Janina Sajka, John Slatin, Jim Thatcher, Irène Vatton, Gregg Vanderheiden, Pawan Vora, Jason White, and Lauren Wood.

6 References

For the latest version of any W3C specification please consult the list of W3C Technical Reports.

"The Three-tions of Accessibility-Aware HTML Authoring Tools," J. Richards.
Amaya W3C's own browser/authoring tool, used to demonstrate and test many of the new developments in Web protocols and data formats. Amaya has a WYSIWYG style of interface. Source code, binaries, and further information are all available at http://www.w3.org/Amaya/.
"Images and Client-side Image Maps" Amaya's Help page for images and image maps.
Amaya - Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines example" Describes how Amaya, W3C's WYSIWYG browser/authoring tool, implements the guidelines.
"Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines," Apple Computer Inc.
A-prompt tool is a freely available example tool developed by the Adaptive Technology Resource Center at the University of Toronto, and the TRACE center at the University of Wisconsin. The source code for the tool is also available at http://aprompt.snow.utoronto.ca
"Techniques For Evaluation And Implementation Of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines," C. Ridpath.
"CSS, level 1 Recommendation," B. Bos, H. Wium Lie, eds., 17 December 1996, revised 11 January 1999. This CSS1 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/REC-CSS1-19990111. The latest version of CSS1 is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-CSS1.
"CSS, level 2 Recommendation," B. Bos, H. Wium Lie, C. Lilley, and I. Jacobs, eds., 12 May 1998. This CSS2 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/REC-CSS2-19980512. The latest version of CSS2 is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-CSS2.
"Accessibility Features of CSS," I. Jacobs and J. Brewer, eds., 4 August 1999. This version is http://www.w3.org/1999/08/NOTE-CSS-access-19990804. The latest version of Accessibility Features of CSS is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS-access.
"Requirements for Accessible Software Design," US Department of Education, version 1.1 March 6, 1997.
" EITACC Desktop Software standards," Electronic Information Technology Access Advisory (EITACC) Committee.
""WAI Resources: HTML 4.0 Accessibility Improvements," I. Jacobs, J. Brewer, and D. Dardailler, eds. This document describes accessibility features in HTML 4.0.
"HTML 4.0 Recommendation," D. Raggett, A. Le Hors, and I. Jacobs, eds., 17 December 1997, revised 24 April 1998. This HTML 4.0 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/REC-html40-19980424. The latest version of HTML 4.0 is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40.
"Software Accessibility," IBM Special Needs Systems.
"The Inter-Client communication conventions manual." A protocol for communication between clients in the X Window system.
"An ICE Rendezvous Mechanism for X Window System Clients," W. Walker. A description of how to use the ICE and RAP protocols for X Window clients.
"IBM Guidelines for Writing Accessible Applications Using 100% Pure Java," R. Schwerdtfeger, IBM Special Needs Systems.
"Java Accessibility Guidelines and Checklist," IBM Special Needs Systems.
"The Java Tutorial. Trail: Creating a GUI with JFC/Swing." An online tutorial that describes how to use the Swing Java Foundation Class to build an accessible User Interface.
"Mathematical Markup Language," P. Ion and R. Miner, eds., 7 April 1998, revised 7 July 1999. This MathML 1.0 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/REC-MathML-19990707. The latest version of MathML 1.0 is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-MathML.
"Accessibility for Applications Designers," Microsoft Corporation.
"The Microsoft Windows Guidelines for Accessible Software Design." Warning! This is a "self-extracting archive", an application that will probably only run on MS-Windows systems.
"Information for Developers About Microsoft Active Accessibility," Microsoft Corporation.
"Lotus Notes Accessibility Guidelines," IBM Special Needs Systems.
"A Comparison of Schemas for Dublin Core-based Video Metadata Representation," J Hunter.
The Sketch open source image editor home page.
"Accessibility of SMIL", M.-R. Koivunen, I. Jacobs eds. The latest version is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/SMIL-access
"Designing for Accessibility," Eric Bergman and Earl Johnson. This paper discusses specific disabilities including those related to hearing, vision, and cognitive function.
"Towards Accessible Human-Computer Interaction," Eric Bergman, Earl Johnson, Sun Microsytems 1995. A substantial paper, with a valuable print bibliography.
"Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) 1.0 Specification" (Working Draft), J. Ferraiolo, ed. The latest version of the SVG specification is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/SVG
"Accessibility of Scalable Vector Graphics" (Working Draft), C. McCathieNevile, M.-R. Koivunen eds. The latest version is available at http://www.w3.org/1999/09/SVG-access
"Application Software Design Guidelines," compiled by G. Vanderheiden. A thorough reference work.
"Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0," J. Treviranus, J. Richards, I. Jacobs, and C. McCathieNevile eds. The latest version is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-AUTOOLS.
The Web Accessibility Initiative Evaluation and Repair Tools Working Group tracks and develops tools that can help repair accessibility errors.
"User Agent Accessibility Guidelines," J. Gunderson and I. Jacobs, eds. The latest version of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines is available at http://www.w3.org/WAI/UA/WAI-USERAGENT.
"Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0," W. Chisholm, G. Vanderheiden, and I. Jacobs, eds., 5 May 1999. This Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WAI-WEBCONTENT-19990505. The latest version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT/.
"Techniques for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0," W. Chisholm, G. Vanderheiden, and I. Jacobs, eds. The latest version of Techniques for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT-TECHS/.
Priorities defined by [WAI-WEBCONTENT].
"What is Accessible Software," James W. Thatcher, Ph.D., IBM, 1997. This paper gives a short example-based introduction to the difference between software that is accessible, and software that can be used by some assistive technologies.
"XHTML(TM) 1.0: The Extensible HyperText Markup Language (Working Draft)," S. Pemberton et al. The latest version of XHTML 1.0 is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1.
"The Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.0," T. Bray, J. Paoli, C. M. Sperberg-McQueen eds. The latest version of the The XML Specification ia available at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-xml.
"Namespaces in XML," T. Bray, D. Hollander, A. Layman eds. The latest version of the XML Namespaces Specification is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-xml-names.
"XML Accessibility Guidelines (Draft Note)," D. Dardailler ed. Draft notes for producing accessible XML document types. The latest version of the XML Accessibility Guidelines is available at http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/xmlgl.