Techniques for Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0
W3C Note 3 February 2000
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- Jutta Treviranus -
ATRC, University of Toronto
- Charles McCathieNevile - W3C
- Ian Jacobs - W3C
- Jan Richards - University of Toronto
©2000 W3C® (MIT,
INRIA, Keio), All Rights
Reserved. W3C liability,
use and software
licensing rules apply.
This document provides information to authoring tool developers who wish to
satisfy the checkpoints of "Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" [ATAG10]. It includes suggested techniques, sample
strategies in deployed tools, and references to other accessibility resources
(such as platform-specific software accessibility guidelines) that provide
additional information on how a tool may satisfy each checkpoint.
This document is part of a series of accessibility documents published by
the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative
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 document is a W3C Note, published as an informative appendix to
"Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0". The Working Group expects to update this document in response to
queries raised by implementors of the Guidelines, for example, to cover new
technologies. Suggestions for additional techniques are welcome.
This document has been approved by the
Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AUWG). Publication of
this Note by W3C indicates no endorsement by the W3C Membership.
For further information about Working Group decisions, please consult the minutes of AUWG Meetings.
This document has been produced by the
Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AUWG) as part of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). The goals of the Working Group are
discussed in the AUWG
Please send general comments about this document to the public mailing list:
firstname.lastname@example.org (public archives).
A list of current W3C Recommendations and other technical documents
including Working Drafts and Notes can be found at http://www.w3.org/TR.
The "Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0"
[ATAG10] has two goals: to assist developers in designing authoring tools
that produce accessible Web content and to assist developers in creating an
accessible authoring interface. The present "Techniques Document" suggests to
developers some strategies for meeting those goals.
Implementation of techniques for some of these guidelines requires
familiarity with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
1.0 [WCAG10]. In
addition, readers are strongly encouraged to become familiar with the
"Techniques for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" [WCAG10-TECHS]
and "Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0"
Note: The techniques in this document are merely
suggestions; they are not required for conformance to "Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0". These
techniques are not necessarily the only way of satisfying the checkpoint, nor
are they necessarily a definitive set of requirements for satisfying a
This document has the same structure as the "Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" [ATAG10]: seven guidelines,
each of which includes at least one checkpoint. Information about checkpoint priorities is found in the
"Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0".
Unlike "Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0", the current document includes a list of techniques
after each checkpoint. Techniques may be suggested strategies, references to
other accessibility resources (noted "Reference"), or examples of how deployed
tools satisfy the checkpoint (noted "Sample").
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
Some of the sample techniques describe how Amaya satisfies the checkpoints.
Amaya [AMAYA] is both
an HTML authoring tool and a browser. Amaya's default editing view is WYSIWYG-style. The Amaya
techniques are also available as a single "sample implementation" document
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 review it and make appropriate corrections by hand. Since many authors are
unfamiliar with accessibility, authoring tools are responsible for
automatically generating accessible markup, and where appropriate, for guiding
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 when a tool hides the markup changes from the author's view.
- 1.1 Ensure that the author can
produce accessible content in
the markup language(s)
supported by the tool. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint
- 1.2 Ensure that the tool preserves all
conversions. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint
- When transforming a table to a list or list of lists, ensure that table
headings are transformed into headings and that summary or caption information
is retained as rendered content. This transformation may not be
- Even when a document's graphical layout has been rearranged, ensure that
the document makes sense when rendered serially. For example, prompt the author
to confirm linearized reading order after the graphical layout has changed.
Desktop publishing software often has such a feature.
- When importing images with associated descriptions to an HTML document make
the descriptions available through appropriate markup. For instance, in HTML
- When converting from a word-processor format to HTML, ensure that headings
and list items are transformed into appropriate headings of the appropriate
level, and list items in the appropriate type of list (rather than as plain
text with font formatting)
- Do not transform text into images - use style sheets for presentation
control, or an XML application such as Scalable Vector Graphics [SVG] that keeps the text as text.
If this is not possible, ensure that the text that is converted is available as
equivalent text for the image.
- Ensure that the tool recognizes and preserves elements that are defined in
the relevant specification(s) even if it is unable to render them in a
publishing view or preview mode. This is relevant for WYSIWYG page authoring tools, tools that
handle image formats which allow the incorporation of equivalent text or data,
and tools for multimedia and data-processing.
- When converting linked elements such as footnotes or endnotes either
provide them as inline content or maintain two-way linking. In HTML, this
should be hypertext links rather than plain-text references.
- Sample: The predefined transformations shipped with Amaya preserve
all element content. The transformation language allows the preservation of
attribute values, but this is not done by all the supplied
- 1.3 Ensure that when the tool
automatically generates markup it conforms to the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10]. [Relative Priority] (Checkpoint
- Use consistent document structures. For a tool that does site-wide
management, provide consistent navigation systems and document structures.
- Include markup that provides equivalent alternatives for media-dependent
elements or content.
- Do not use structural
markup for presentation effects, or presentation markup for known
structures. For example, use list markup of an appropriate type rather than
creating multiple line paragraphs and beginning each line with an image of a
bullet. Do not use list markup for an indentation effect.
- Do not publish Web content in markup languages that do not allow for
equivalent alternative information to be included for media-specific
presentations (such as images or video, sound, etc).
- New markup languages are constantly being developed, and in many cases
offer improvements to the structure and utility of Web content. In implementing
a new or extended markup language, it is important to ensure that a tool does
not remove access to information that had been inherent in the base markup
The same can apply to a format that simplifies an existing format. For
example, producing a modified HTML DTD that did not include the
"alt" attribute for the
IMG element, or effectively working
to such a DTD by not implementing a means to include the attribute, compromises
the accessibility of any included
- Reference: The Web Accessibility Initiative's Protocols and Formats
group have a draft set of notes about creating accessible markup languages [XMLGL].
- Sample: Amaya generates markup that conforms to level-A, and allows
the author to generate markup that is triple-A through the user interface.
- 1.4 Ensure that templates provided
by the tool conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10]. [Relative Priority] (Checkpoint
- Produce accessible representations for site maps generated by the authoring
- Provide equivalent alternatives for all non-text content (images, audio,
- Use consistent navigation mechanisms.
- Ensure that event-handlers for scripts are device-independent.
- Ensure that color schemes provide sufficient contrast for people or
technology with poor color separation.
- Ensure that the natural language of the template is identified.
- Provide navigation bars.
- Provide keyboard shortcuts for important links, etc.
- Sample: Amaya has templates, which have not yet been checked for
conformance to WCAG
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
2.1 Use the latest versions of W3C Recommendations when they are available and appropriate
for a task. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 2.1)
- W3C specifications have undergone review specifically to ensure that they
do not compromise accessibility, and where possible, they enhance it.
- When creating documents or markup languages, make full use of W3C Recommendations. For example, when creating mathematical
content for the Web use MathML [MATHML] rather than another markup language. Use applicable HTML 4
- Specifications that become W3C Recommendations after an authoring tool's
development cycles permit input are not considered "available" in time.
- Ensure that the tool recognizes and preserves elements that are defined in
the relevant specification(s) even if it is unable to render them. This is
particularly important for WYSIWYG editing
- Sample: Amaya supports HTML 4 [HTML4], XHTML 1.0 [XHTML10], and most of CSS1 [CSS1]. It provides partial support for MathML [MATHML] and some
experimental support for Scalable Vector Graphics [SVG].
- 2.2 Ensure that the tool automatically
generates valid markup. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint
- This is necessary for user agents to
be able to render Web content in a manner appropriate to a particular user's
- Produce valid HTML/XML. Refer to [HTML-XML-VALIDATOR].
- Publish proprietary language specifications or DTDs on the Web, to allow
documents to be validated.
- Use namespaces and schemas to make documents that can be automatically
transformed to a known markup language.
- Sample: Amaya implements each language according to the published
- 2.3 If markup produced by the tool does
not conform to W3C specifications,
inform the author. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint
- Invalid markup can be highlighted through the use of style sheets. Refer also to checkpoint
- A tool that provides a Web editing mode and a non-Web editing mode can
change modes when invalid markup is introduced. Refer also to checkpoint
- Sample: If Amaya imports or generates markup that does not conform
to W3C specifications it is highlighted in the structure view. This occurs when
Amaya tries to repair invalid markup and cannot successfully do so.
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 producing
equivalent information, such as text alternatives for images and auditory
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,
the tool 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] (Checkpoint
- Note: Some checkpoints in the Web Content Accessibility
[WCAG10] may not apply.
- When a multimedia object is inserted, prompt the author for relevant
alternatives: functional replacement and long description for images, text
captions (as text or as a URI), video of signed translations for audio, and
audio descriptions for video (as well as alternatives for its audio
- Provide an author with the option of specifying alternative information, or
electing to insert null alternative information for images, audio, video.
Default to an accessibility error such as no
DESC element for SVG images. Prompt the author to identify the type of
image (decorative, a navigation icon, etc.).
- When video is inserted, prompt the author for a still image as part of the
- When inserting objects such as spreadsheets or word processor documents,
offer the option of providing a Web-formated version. For example, a
spreadsheet or a word processor document in a proprietary format could also be
published as an HTML document. Tools that dynamically generate Web content may
use HTTP content negotiation to facilitate this.
- Satisfying checkpoint
3.5 would provide much of the required functionality. Refer also to checkpoint 4.1. Refer also to checkpoint
- Sample: Amaya prompts the author to provide equivalent text for
AREA elements, and
- 3.2 Help the author create structured
content and separate information from its presentation. [Relative Priority] (Checkpoint
- Note: Some checkpoints in Web Content
Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10] may not apply.
- Recognize collections of uppercase letters as likely abbreviations (in
languages that have case) and prompt the author for an expansion, to be
provided in markup (e.g., in HTML, with
- Prompt the author to identify the structural role of content that has been
emphasized through styling.
- In Japanese, Chinese, and other appropriate languages, prompt the author
for text that can be used as a ruby for unusual ideographs or ideographic
groups. Refer to
- Prompt the author for header information for tabular data.
- Prompt the author (and allow them to specify a default suggestion) for the
language of a document.
- Sample: In future releases Amaya is expected to prompt the author
IMG elements, and
FORM controls. The user interface of Amaya was developed to guide
authors to produce structured documents. Style in Amaya is created as a
- 3.3 Ensure that prepackaged content
conforms to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10].
[Relative Priority] (Checkpoint 3.3)
- For example, include captions, an
auditory description, and a collated text transcript with prepackaged movies. Refer also to checkpoint 3.4.
- Use formats that allow for accessible annotation to be included in the
files, such as SMIL, PNG, and SVG.
- Provide long descriptions, and associated text files with appropriate text equivalent in clip-art
- Provide video description files with prepackaged video.
- Provide text caption files for prepackaged audio, or video with auditory
- Including pre-written descriptions for all multimedia files (e.g.,
clip-art) packaged with the tool will save authors time and effort, cause a
significant number of professionally written descriptions to circulate on the
Web, provide authors with convenient models to emulate when they write their
own descriptions, and show authors the importance of description writing.
- Refer also to checkpoint
- Sample: Amaya does not provide any clip art or other prepackaged
3.4 Do not automatically generate equivalent alternatives. Do not reuse
previously authored alternatives without author confirmation, except when the
function is known with certainty.
[Priority 1] (Checkpoint 3.4)
- For example, prompt the author
for a text equivalent of an image.
If the author has already provided a text equivalent for the same image used in
another document, offer to reuse that text and prompt the author for
confirmation. If the tool automatically generates a "Search" icon, it would be
appropriate to automatically reuse the previously authored text equivalent for
that icon. Refer also to
checkpoint 3.3 and
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.
- Items used throughout a Website, such as graphical navigation bars, should
have standard alternative information. However the author should be prompted to
edit or approve this the first time it is used in a site, and when the
destination of the links is changed by the author.
- If the author has not specified alternative text for an
or specified that none is required, default to having no
attribute, so that an accessibility problem will be noted. Refer also to checkpoint
- Where an object has already been used in a document, the tool should offer
the alternative content that was supplied for the first or most recent use as a
- Sample: Amaya does not provide default
except when copying and pasting images, in which case it copies all attributes
with the image.
- 3.5 Provide functionality for managing,
editing, and reusing alternative
equivalents for multimedia objects.
[Priority 3] (Checkpoint 3.5)
- Note: These alternative equivalents may be packaged with
the tool, written by the author, retrieved from the Web, etc.
- Maintain a database registry that associates object identity information
with alternative information. Whenever an object is used and an equivalent
alternative is provided, ask the author whether they want to add the object (or
identifying information) and the alternative information to the database. In
the case of a text equivalent,
the alternate information may be stored in the document source. For more
substantial information (such as video captions or audio descriptions), the
information may be stored externally and linked from the document source. Allow
different alternative information to be associated with a single object.
- Reference: >Allow authors to make keyword searches of a
description database (to simplify the task of finding relevant images, sound
files, etc.). A paper describing a method to create
searchable databases for video and audio files is available (refer to
- Suggest pre-written descriptions as default text whenever one of the
associated files is inserted into the author's document.
- The use of the Resource Description Framework (RDF) [RDF10], or formats like SVG
can enable a tool to maintain and use libraries of information within the tool
and on the Web.
- This checkpoint is priority 3, meaning that in itself, it does not have a
critical effect on an authoring tool's likelihood of producing accessible
mark-up. However, certain implementations of this Alternative Information
Management Mechanism (AIMM) [APROMPT] have the potential to simultaneously satisfy
several higher priority checkpoints and dramatically improve the usability of
an access aware authoring tool. In particular:
- The AIMM
maintain a list of associations between object file names and authored
responses to prompts for alternative information (per checkpoint 3.1). The
alternative information may take the form of short strings (i.e., "alt"-text)
or pointers to descriptive files (i.e., "longdesc", transcripts, etc.).
Multiple associations for the same object for different languages or contexts
should also be handled.
- The AIMM
offer the associated alternative information as a default whenever the
appropriate associated object is selected for insertion. If no previous
association is found, the field should be left empty (i.e., no purely
rule-generated alternative information should be used). Note:
The term "default" implies that the alternative information is offered for the
author's approval. The term does not imply that the default alternative
information is automatically placed without the author's approval. Such
automatic placement may only occur when in situations where the function of the
object is known with certainty, per checkpoint 3.4. Such a situation might arise in the case of a
"navigation bar builder" that places a navigation bar at the bottom of every
page on a site. In this case, it would be appropriate to use the same
"alt"-text automatically for every instance of a particular image (with the
same target) on every page.
- The alternative information mechanism should be closely integrated with the
pre-written alternative information provided for all packaged multimedia files,
per checkpoint 3.3. This
would allow the alternative information to be automatically retrieved whenever
the author selected one of the packaged objects for insertion. An important
benefit of the system would be the ease of adding a keyword search capability
that would allow efficient location of multimedia based on its alternative
- Sample: Amaya has no registry of alternate text associated with
images, although when an image is copied and pasted its alt and other
attributes are copied too.
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 (where possible, automatically) identify inaccessible markup,
and enable its correction even when the markup itself is hidden from the
Authoring tool support for the creation of accessible Web content should
account for different authoring styles. Authors who can configure the tool's
accessibility features to support their regular work patterns are more likely
to accept accessible authoring practices (refer to guideline 5). For example,
some authors 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 compilation.
Note: Validation of markup is an essential aspect of
checking the accessibility of content.
- 4.1 Check for and inform the author of accessibility problems.
[Relative Priority] (Checkpoint
- Note: Accessibility problems should be
detected automatically where possible. Where this is not possible, the tool may
need to prompt the author to make decisions or to
manually check for certain types of problems.
- Where the tools cannot test for accessibility errors, provide the author
with the necessary information, wizards, etc. to check for themselves. Refer also to checkpoint
- Include alerts for
[WCAG10] Priority 1 checkpoints in the default configuration.
- Provide an editing view that shows equivalent alternatives in the main
content view to make it clear that they are necessary. This will make it
obvious when they are missing.
- Provide a preview mode that uses alternative content. Although this can
give authors a clear understanding of some problems very easily, it should be
made clear that there are many ways in which a page may be presented (aurally,
text-only, text with pictures separately, on a small screen, on a large screen,
etc.). A view that renders the document as it might appear without technologies
such as style sheets and images enabled, or the ability to turn those features
off and on in the editing view, will also give an author some idea of whether a
document's logical order has been correctly preserved, whether alternative text
is appropriate, etc.
- Highlight problems detected when documents are opened, when an editing or
insertion action is completed, or while an author is editing. Using CSS classes
to indicate accessibility problems will enable the author to easily configure
the presentation of errors.
- Where there is a change in the writing script used, prompt the author to
identify whether there has been a change in language
- Alert authors to accessibility problems when saving.
- Accessibility problems can be highlighted using strategies similar to spell
checking within a word processor. Accessibility alerts within the document can
be linked to context sensitive help. Refer also to checkpoint 4.2..
- Allow authors to choose different alert levels based on the priority of
authoring accessibility recommendations.
- If interruptive warnings are used, provide a means for the author to
quickly set the warning to non-obtrusive to avoid frustration.
- Reference: There are online tools whose output can be integrated
with the user interface. Other tools are available for incorporation in
existing software, either as licensed products or in some cases as "open
source" solutions. The WAI Evaluation and Repair group maintains information
about available tools
- Reference: The WAI Evaluation and Repair group [WAI-ER] is developing a document that
discusses which aspects of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines can be
automatically tested. A draft of that document is available [AUTO-TOOL].
- Reference: Refer also to the WAI accessibility references listed in
techniques for Refer
also to checkpoint 1.1..
- Reference: The Web Accessibility Initiative's Protocols and Formats
group have a draft set of notes about creating accessible markup languages [XMLGL].
- Sample: Amaya currently checks for validity, but the only warning of
invalid markup appears in the structure view. The Amaya developers are
investigating automating an accessibility check and author notification. Where
Amaya detects an error, it identifies and highlights the incorrect code in the
structure view, allowing the author to delete it.
- 4.2 Assist authors in correcting accessibility
problems. [Relative Priority] (Checkpoint
- At a minimum, provide context-sensitive help with the
accessibility checking required by checkpoint 4.1
- Assist authors in ways that are consistent with the look and feel of the
- Provide context sensitive-help for accessibility errors. Refer also to guideline 6.
- Where there are site-wide errors, to make correction more efficient, allow
the author to make site-wide changes or corrections. For example, this may be
appropriate for a common error in markup, but may not be appropriate in
providing a text equivalent that is appropriate for one use of an image but
completely inappropriate for the other uses of the image on the same site (or
even the same page).
- Allow authors to control both the nature and timing of the correction
- Provide a mechanism for authors to navigate sequentially among uncorrected
accessibility errors Refer
also to checkpoint 7.4..
- Sample: Amaya currently does not satisfy this checkpoint. Amaya uses
its own internal representation for the document markup that is transformed on
output. Possible implementation strategy: Where there are errors in a document
Amaya could alert the author and warn that the document must be changed, and
present the structure view highlighting areas where it has changed the markup,
allowing the author to abort the editing session or save the changed version
under a new name.
4.3 Allow the author to preserve markup not recognized by the tool.
[Priority 2] (Checkpoint 4.3)
- Note: The author may have included or
imported markup that enhances accessibility but is not recognized by the
- Provide a summary of all automated structural changes that may affect
- Provide options for the author to confirm or override removal of markup on
a change-by-change basis or as a batch process.
- If changes to the markup are necessary for the tool to further process the
document (for example, a tool that requires valid markup when a document is
opened), inform the author.
- Do not change the DTD without notifying the author.
- Sample: Amaya currently does not satisfy this checkpoint.
- 4.4 Provide the author with a summary of
the document's accessibility status.
[Priority 3] (Checkpoint 4.4)
- Provide a list of all accessibility errors found in a Web page.
- Provide a summary of accessibility problems remaining by type and/or by
- Sample: Amaya currently does not satisfy this checkpoint.
- 4.5 Allow the author to transform presentation markup that
is misused to convey structure into structural markup, and to
transform presentation markup used for style into style sheets. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint
- Some examples of transformations include: HTML table-based layout into CSS,
BR to the
P element, HTML (deprecated)
FONT into heuristically or author-determined structure, Word processor
styles to Web styles, HTML deprecated presentational markup into CSS, XHTML
ruby, MathML presentational markup to
- Allow the author to define transformations for imported documents that have
presentation, rather than structural, markup.
- Allow the author to create style rules based on the formatting properties
of an element, and then apply the rule to other elements in the document, to
assist conversion of documents to the use of style sheets
- Include pre-written transformations to rationalize multiple tables, and to
transform (deprecated) presentation HTML into style sheets.
- Remember that accessibility information, including attributes or properties
of the elements being transformed, must be preserved - see checkpoint 1.2
- Sample: Amaya provides a language for specifying structure
transformations, and a large number of predefined transformations are
Techniques for this guideline:
- Prompts can be used to encourage authors to
provide information needed to make the content accessible (such as alternative
text equivalents). Prompts are simple requests for information. For example, a
text equivalent entry field
prominently displayed in an image insertion dialog would constitute a prompt.
Prompts are relatively unintrusive and address a problem before it arises.
However, once the author has ignored the prompt, its message is unavailable.
Alerts warn the author that there are problems that
need to be addressed. The art of attracting the author's attention is a tricky
issue. The way authors are alerted, prompted, or warned can influence their
view of the tool and even their opinion of accessible authoring. Refer also to guideline
- User Configurable Schedule
- A user configurable schedule allows the author to determine the type of
prompts and alerts that are used, including when they are presented. For
example, an author 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 an image is added. If the
prompting is done on a user-configurable schedule, the author will be able to
decide. This technique allows a tool to suit the needs of a wide range of
- Interruptive Alerts
- Interruptive alerts are informative messages that interrupt the editing
process for the author. For example, interruptive alerts are often presented
when an author's action could cause a loss of data. Interruptive alerts allow
problems to be brought to the author's attention immediately. However, authors
may resent the constant delays and forced actions. Many people prefer to finish
expressing an idea before returning to edit its format.
- Unintrusive Alerts
- Unintrusive alerts are alerts such as icons, underlines, and gentle sounds
that can be presented to the author without necessitating immediate action. For
example, in some word processors misspelled text is highlighted without forcing
the author to make immediate corrections. These alerts allow authors to
continue editing with the knowledge that problems will be easy to identify at a
later time. However, authors may choose to ignore the alerts altogether.
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 software stability can be factors
affecting author acceptance of the new feature. In addition, the relative
prominence of different ways to accomplish the same task can influence which
one the author chooses. Therefore, it is important that creating accessible
content be a natural process when using an authoring tool.
- 5.1 Ensure that functionality related to
practices is naturally integrated into the overall look and feel of the
tool. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint
- Ensure that author can utilize the tool's accessible authoring features by
the same interaction styles used for other features in the program. For
example, if the tool makes use of onscreen symbols such as underlines or
coloration change rather than dialogs for conveying information, then the same
interface techniques should be used to convey accessibility information.
- The same fonts, text sizes, colors, symbols, etc. that characterize other
program features should also characterize those dealing with
- Include considerations for accessibility - such as the
"longdesc" attributes of the HTML
IMG element -
right below the
"src" attribute in a dialogue box, not buried
behind an "Advanced..." button.
- Allow efficient and fast access to accessibility-related settings with as
few steps as possible needed to make any changes that will generate accessible
- The accessibility features should be designed as integral components of the
authoring tool application, not plug-ins or other peripheral components that
need to be separately obtained, installed, configured or executed
- The default installation of the authoring tool should include all
accessibility features enabled. The author may have the option to disable these
features later on.
- A help page that describes how to make an HTML image map should include
adding alternative information for each
AREA element in the
MAP as part of the process. Any examples of code should give either
block content with text links, or
AREA elements that all have
"alt" attribute values.
- When an author creates an HTML frameset, suggest the links from the
navigation bar (and perhaps the content of the "first page") as the content for
- Sample: In Amaya some accessibility features are part of relevant
dialogs. Others, such as longdesc and title attributes must be separately
generated by the author. The development team will integrate these into the
relevant dialogues in future releases.
5.2 Ensure that accessible authoring
practices supporting Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10] Priority 1
checkpoints are among the most obvious and easily initiated by the author.
[Priority 2] (Checkpoint 5.2)
- When the author has selected text to format, the use of CSS should be
emphasized rather than the (deprecated) HTML
- Highlight the most accessible solutions when presenting choices for the
- Providing an editing view that shows equivalent alternatives in the main
content view will make it clear that they are necessary, and will make it
obvious when they are missing.
- If there is more than one option for the author, and one option is more
accessible than another, place the more accessible option first and make it the
default. For example, when requesting equivalent alternatives for an image with
OBJECT element, offer an unchecked option for a null
value (i.e., there is no content, implying the image has no real function) with
the cursor positioned in the entry field for alternative text (and, if
available, provide the appropriate value from the "Alternative Information
Management Mechanism"; refer to checkpoint 3.5) rather than offering the filename as a default
suggestion, or selecting the null "alt" value as a default.
- Sample: Amaya's user interface guides the author to produce
structured content, with presentation elements separated into style sheets.
Providing an equivalent alternative is mandatory at the time of inserting some
Web authors may not be familiar with accessibility issues that arise when
creating Web content. Therefore, help and documentation must 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] (Checkpoint 6.1)
- Ensure that accessibility solutions are present in all help text
descriptions of markup practices (e.g., HTML
IMG elements should
appear with an
"alt" attribute and a
attribute wherever appropriate).
- Ensure that electronic documentation complies with the Web Content
Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10]
- Link from help text to any automated correction utilities.
- Provide examples of accessible design practices in online tutorials.
- Include help documentation for all accessible authoring practices supported
by the tool.
- Link those mechanisms used to identify accessibility problems (e.g., icons,
outlining or other emphasis within the user interface) to help files.
- Sample: Amaya help pages for images and image maps
[AMAYA-HELP-IMG] include providing text alternatives as part of the
process. There is a help page on configuring Amaya, that documents how to
change the default keyboard bindings.
- 6.2 Ensure that creating accessible
content is a naturally integrated part of the documentation, including
examples. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint
- In help text, when explaining the accessibility issues related to
non-deprecated elements, emphasize appropriate solutions rather than explicitly
discouraging the use of the element.
- Explain the importance of utilizing accessibility features generally and
for specific instances.
- Take a broad view of accessibility-related practices; for example, do not
refer to text equivalents as being
"for blind authors" but rather as "for authors who are not viewing
- Avoid labelling accessibility features of the tool with a "handicapped"
icon, as this can give the impression that accessible design practices only
benefit disabled authors.
- In help text, emphasize accessibility features that benefit multiple
groups. In particular the principles of supporting flexible display and control
choices have obvious advantages for the emergence of hands free, eyes-free,
voice-activated browsing devices such as Web phone, the large number of slow
Web connections, and Web users who prefer text-only browsing to avoid "image
- Provide examples of all accessibility solutions in help text, including
those of lower priority in
- Implement context-sensitive help for all special accessibility terms as
well as tasks related to accessibility.
- Document the tool's conformance to ATAG 1.0 [ATAG10].
- Include current versions of, or links to relevant specifications in the
documentation (e.g. HTML 4 [HTML4], CSS
[CSS2].) This is particularly relevant for markup languages that are easily
hand edited, such as most XML languages [XML].
- Include a tutorial specifically on checking for and correcting Web
- Link to or provide URIs for more information on accessible Web authoring,
such as WCAG 1.0 [WCAG10], and other
- Ensure that documentation examples conform to WCAG 1.0 [WCAG10], at least to the level that the tool conforms to
- Clearly label any examples that display practices that reduce
- Sample: Accessible authoring features are added to the documentation
as they are incorporated into Amaya, as part of the normal documentation of the
- 6.3 In a dedicated section,
document all features of the tool that promote the production of accessible
content. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint
- Sample: Amaya documentation has a basic accessibility section.
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. When custom interface components are created, it is
essential that they be accessible through the standard access mechanisms for
the relevant platform so that assistive technologies can be used with them.
Some additional user interface design considerations apply specifically to
Web authoring tools. For instance,
authoring tools must ensure that the author can edit (in an editing view) using one set of stylistic preferences
and publish using different styles. 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
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. Authors who cannot use a
mouse (e.g., people with physical disabilities or who are blind) must use the
slow and tiring process of moving one step at a time through the document to
access the desired content, unless more efficient navigation methods are
available. 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
- 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
- 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 "The Microsoft Windows Guidelines for Accessible Software Design"
[MS-SOFTWARE] are partially determined by a logo requirement program.
Therefore developers may need to compare the documents they are using to other
guidelines. WCAG 1.0
[WCAG10] and UAAG
1.0 [UAAG10] both
have priority systems that are directly compatible with the priorities in [ATAG10].
- User Interfaces are sometimes built as Web content, and, as such, should
follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10]. Refer also to guideline 1.
- Guidelines for specific platforms include
- Reference: "IBM Guidelines for Writing Accessible Applications Using
100% Pure Java" [JAVA-ACCESS] R. Schwerdtfeger, IBM Special Needs
- Reference: "An ICE Rendezvous Mechanism for X Window System Clients"
Walker. A description of how to use the ICE and RAP protocols for X Window
- Reference: "Information for Developers About Microsoft Active
- Reference: "The Inter-Client communication conventions manual" [ICCCM]. A protocol for
communication between clients in the X Window system.
- Reference: "Lotus Notes accessibility guidelines" [NOTES-ACCESS]
IBM Special Needs Systems.
- Reference: "Java accessibility guidelines and checklist"
[JAVA-CHECKLIST] IBM Special Needs Systems.
- Reference: "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
- Reference: "Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines" [APPLE-HI] Apple
- Reference: "The Microsoft Windows Guidelines for Accessible Software
- Guidelines for specific software types include
- Reference: "The Three-tions of Accessibility-Aware HTML Authoring
[ACCESS-AWARE], J. Richards.
- Reference: "User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (Working Draft)" J.
Gunderson, I. Jacobs eds. (This is a work in progress) [UAAG10]
- General guidelines for producing accessible software include:
- Reference: "Accessibility for applications designers" [MS-ENABLE] Microsoft
- Reference: "Application Software Design Guidelines" [TRACE-REF] compiled
by G. Vanderheiden. A thorough reference work.
- Reference: "Designing for Accessibility" [SUN-DESIGN] Eric Bergman and Earl
Johnson. This paper discusses specific disabilities including those related to
hearing, vision, and cognitive function.
- Reference: "EITAAC Desktop Software standards" [EITAAC] Electronic Information Technology
Access Advisory (EITACC) Committee.
- Reference: "Requirements for Accessible Software Design" [ED-DEPT] US Department of
Education, version 1.1 March 6, 1997.
- Reference: "Software Accessibility" [IBM-ACCESS] IBM Special Needs Systems
- Reference: "Towards Accessible Human-Computer Interaction" [SUN-HCI] Eric Bergman,
Earl Johnson, Sun Microsytems 1995. A substantial paper, with a valuable print
- Reference: "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
- The following are common requirements for producing accessible software.
This list does not necessarily cover all requirements for all platforms, and
items may not apply to some software.
- 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
- Use system standard indirections and APIs wherever possible.
- Ensure all dialogs, subwindows, etc., satisfy 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
- Allow users to reshape the user interface - customize toolbars, keyboard
- 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.
- 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,
- 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).
- 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.
- Provide documentation for all features of the tool.
- Ensure that help functions are accessible.
- Sample: 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
and to implement Microsoft Active Accessibility [MSAA] in the Windows version. 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 WCAG 1.0 [WCAG10].
- 7.2 Allow the author to change the
presentation within editing views
without affecting the document markup.
[Priority 1] (Checkpoint
- This allows the author to edit the document according to personal
requirements, without changing the way the document is rendered when
- In representing the source structure of a document mark elements with text
brackets rather than with purely graphic representations. For example,
"</>" is regarded as a text bracket, since it is made of character
- Allow the author to create audio style sheets using a graphical
representation rather than an audio one (with accessible representation, of
- An authoring tool that offers a "rendered view" of a document, such as a
browser preview mode, may provide an editing view whose presentation can be
controlled independently of the rendered view.
- A WYSIWYG
editor may allow an author to specify a local style sheet, that will override
the "published" style of the document in the editing view.
- Sample: Amaya allows the author to create local style sheets, and to
enable or disable each style sheet that is linked to a document.
7.3 Allow the author to edit all properties of each element and object in an accessible
fashion. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 7.3)
- An authoring tool may offer several editing views of the same document,
such as a source mode that allows direct editing of all properties.
- Allow the author to individually edit each attribute of the elements in an
HTML or XML document, for example, through a menu. Note: This
must include the ability to add valid values for attributes that are not
present, as well as changing current values of attributes.
- For a site management tool, allow the author to render a site map in text
form (e.g., as a structured tree file).
- Allow the author to specify that alternative information (or identifiers
such as a URI or filename) are rendered in place of images or other multimedia
content while editing.
- Include attributes / properties of elements in a view of the
- Provide access to a list of properties via a "context menu" for each
- Graphically represented elements cannot be identified by assistive
technologies that render text as braille, speech, or large print, unless there
is appropriate information available as text. For example, some HTML authoring
tools render start and end tags as graphics. Such tag representations need to
have a text equivalent to be accessible to assistive technologies.
- Sample: Amaya allows each attribute to be edited through the menu or
through the structure view. Element types can be assigned through the menu
- 7.4 Ensure that the editing view allows navigation via the
structure of the document in an accessible fashion.
[Priority 1] (Checkpoint 7.4)
- Some tools, such as those used to translate from one format to another, do
not have an editing view.
- Allow the author to navigate via an "outline" or "structure" of the
document being edited. This is particularly important for people who are using
a slow interface such as a small braille device, or speech output, or a single
switch input device. It is equivalent to the ability provided by a mouse
interface to move rapidly around the document.
- To minimally satisfy this checkpoint, allow navigation from element to
- In a hypertext document allow the author to navigate among links and active
elements of a document.
- For SMIL and other time-based presentations, allow the author to navigate
temporally through the presentation.
- Allow the author to navigate regions of an image, or the document tree for
an image expressed in a structured language such as Scalable Vector Graphics [SVG].
- Implement the HTML
"accesskey" attribute, and activate it in
- Sample: Amaya provides a structure view, that can be navigated
element by element, a Table of Contents view, that allows navigation via the
headings, and a links view, that allows sequential navigation via the links in
the document. It also provides configurable keyboard navigation of the HTML
structure - parent, child, next and previous sibling elements.
7.5 Enable editing of the structure of the document in an accessible
fashion. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 7.5)
- An authoring tool may offer a structured tree view of the document,
allowing the author to move among, select and cut, copy or paste elements of
- A WYSIWYG tool
may allow elements to be selected, and copied or moved while retaining their
- A tool may allow transformation from one element type to another, such as
- HTML paragraphs to lists and back;
- SMIL transformations between
- HTML (deprecated)
FONT into heuristically determined
- Lists of lists to tables and back;
- MathML transformations between semantic and presentation markup;
- Transforming the SVG
g element to
- Giving a structural role to a part of an element, such as an SVG
g or an HTML
- Sample: Amaya allows the author to select
elements (including containers) and cut, copy and paste them with
their attributes and properties in any of the formatted, structure and
7.6 Allow the author to search within editing views.
[Priority 2] (Checkpoint 7.6)
- Search functions are already present in almost every text and hypertext
editing tools. The simplest allow searching for a sequence of characters, while
more powerful searches can include the ability to perform searches that are
case sensitive or case-insensitive, the ability to replace a search string, the
ability to repeat a previous search to find the next or previous occurrence, or
to select multiple occurrences with a single search.
- The ability to search for a particular type of structure is useful in a
structured document, structured image such as a complex SVG image, etc.
- In an image editor, the ability to select an area by properties (such as
color, or closeness of color) is useful. This is common in middle range and
high end image processing software.
- The ability to search a database for particular content, or to search a
collection of files at once (a simple implementation of the latter is the Unix
function "grep") is an important tool in managing large collections, especially
those that are dynamically converted into Web content.
- The use of metadata (per WCAG 1.0 [WCAG10]) can allow for very complex searching of large
collections, or of timed presentations. Refer also to the paper "A Comparison
of Schemas for Dublin Core-based Video Metadata Representation" [SEARCHABLE] for
discussion specifically addressing timed multimedia presentations.
- Sample: Amaya provides a search function. Because all editing views
are synchronized, any search text found will be selected in each of the
- 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
- To understand the accessibility issues relevant to authoring tool design,
consider that many authors may be creating content in contexts very different
from your own:
- They may not be able to see, hear, move, or may not be able to process some
types of information easily or at all;
- They may have difficulty reading or comprehending text;
- They may not have or be able to use a keyboard or mouse;
- They may have a text-only display, or a small screen.
- 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 authors' 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
- "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.
- Inaccessible Web content or authoring tools cannot be used by some people
with disabilities. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10] describes how to
create accessible Web content.
- Accessible Authoring
- "Accessible authoring practices" improve the accessibility of Web content.
Both authors and tools engage in accessible authoring practices. For example,
authors write clearly, structure their content, and provide navigation aids.
Tools automatically 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 author's attention artfully
can be challenging, since author 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 author without necessitating immediate action. For example, in some word
processors misspelled text is highlighted without forcing the author to make
immediate corrections. These alerts allow authors to continue editing with the
knowledge that problems will be easy to identify at a later time. However,
authors may become annoyed at the extra formatting or may choose to ignore the
- An Interruptive Alert is
an informative message that interrupts the editing process for the author. For
example, interruptive alerts are often presented when an author's action could
cause a loss of data. Interruptive alerts allow problems to be brought to the
author's attention immediately. However, authors 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:
- 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 the Web Content
- 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. Some attributes are integral to the
accessibility of content (e.g., the
"longdesc" attributes in HTML).
- In the following example, the attributes of the
element type are
"flavour", which has the value "lots", and
"colour", which has the value "red":
<beverage flavour="lots" colour="red">my favourite</beverage>
- Auditory Description
- An "auditory description" provides information about actions, body
language, graphics, and scene changes in a video. Auditory descriptions 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
automatically generated in real time). The auditory description must be
synchronized with the auditory track of a video presentation, usually during
natural pauses in the auditory track.
- Authoring Tool
- An "authoring tool" is any software that is used to produce content for
publishing on the Web. Authoring tools include:
- Editing tools specifically designed to produce Web content (e.g., WYSIWYG
HTML and XML editors);
- Tools that offer the option of saving material in a Web format (e.g., word
processors or desktop publishing packages);
- Tools that transform documents into Web formats (e.g., filters to transform
desktop publishing formats to HTML);
- Tools that produce multimedia, especially where it is intended for use on
the Web (e.g., video production and editing suites, SMIL authoring
- Tools for site management or site publication, including tools that
automatically generate Web sites dynamically from a database, on-the-fly
conversion and Web site publishing tools;
- Tools for management of layout (e.g., CSS formatting tools).
- Automated Markup Insertion
- "Automated markup insertion functions" are the features of an authoring
tool that allow the author 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 author preferences.
- "Captions" are essential text equivalents for movie audio. Captions consist of
text transcript of the auditory track of
the movie (or other video presentation) that is synchronized with the video and
auditory 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 (e.g., "Save
as HTML") that transforms convent in one format to another format (such as a
- Check for
- As used in checkpoint
4.1, "check for" can refer to three types of checking:
- In some instances, an authoring tool will be able to check for
accessibility problems automatically. For example, checking for validity (checkpoint 2.2) or
testing whether an image is the only content of a link.
- In some cases, the tool will be able to "suspect" or "guess" that there is
a problem, but will need confirmation from the author. For example, in making
sure that a sensible reading order is preserved a tool can present a linearized
version of a page to the author.
- In some cases, a tool must rely mostly on the author, and can only ask the
author to check. For example, the tool may prompt the author to verify that
equivalent alternatives for multimedia are appropriate. This is the minimal
standard to be satisfied. Subtle, rather than extensive, prompting is more
likely to be effective in encouraging the author to verify accessibility where
it cannot be done automatically.
- Current User
- When several views co-exist, each may have a
selection, but only one is active, called the "current user
selection." User selections may be rendered specially (e.g., graphically
- 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 or an XML
- 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
- An "editing view" is a view provided by the authoring
tool that allows editing.
- An "element" is any identifiable object within a document, for example, a
character, word, image, paragraph or spreadsheet cell. In [HTML4] 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
- An image editor is a graphics program that provides a variety of options
for altering images of different formats.
- To "inform" is to make the author aware of an event or situation through alert, prompt, sound,
flash, or other means.
- 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
- Markup Language
- Authors encode information using a "markup language" such as HTML [HTML4], SVG [SVG], or MathML [MATHML].
- Multimedia Authoring
- A "multimedia authoring tool" is software that facilitates integration of
diverse media elements into an comprehensive presentation format. Multimedia
includes video, audio, images, animations, simulations, and other interactive
- "Presentation markup" is markup
language that encodes information about the desired presentation or
layout of the content. For example, Cascading Style Sheets ([CSS1], [CSS2]) can be used to control fonts, colors, aural
rendering, and graphical positioning. Presentation markup should not be used in
place of structural markup to
convey structure. For example, authors should mark up lists in HTML with proper
list markup and style them with CSS (e.g., to control spacing, bullets,
numbering, etc.). Authors should not use other CSS or HTML incorrectly to lay
out content graphically so that it resembles a list.
- A "prompt" is a request for author input, either information or a decision.
A prompt requires author response. For example, a text equivalent 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
- 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 type of the element
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 entry.
- Publishing Tool
- A "publishing tool" is software 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" of an element is that which the 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 [HTML4]), and in some cases, browsers may render
the value of an attribute (e.g.,
place of the element's content.
- Rendered View, Preview
- A "rendered view" simulates for the author how a user will interact with
the content being edited once published.
- 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 "site management tool" 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.
- "Structural markup" is markup
language that encodes information about the structural role of
elements of the content. For example, headings, sections, members of a list,
and components of a complex diagram can be identified using structural markup.
Structural markup should not be used incorrectly to control presentation or
layout. For example, authors should not use the
in HTML [HTML4] to
achieve an indentation visual layout effect. Structural markup should be used
correctly to communicate the roles of the elements of the content and presentation markup should be
used separately to control the presentation and layout.
- A "transcript" is a text representation of sounds in an audio clip or an
auditory track of a multimedia presentation. 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 visual track). Collated text transcripts are essential for
individuals who are deaf-blind and rely on braille for access to movies and
- A "transformation" is a process that changes a document or object into
another, equivalent, object according to a discrete set of rules. This includes
conversion tools, 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
- A "user agent" is software that retrieves and renders Web content. User
agents include browsers, plug-ins for a particular media type, and some
- 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 "video editor" is software for 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." Some authoring tools will have several different
types of view, and some allow views of several documents at once. 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
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, Aaron Cohen, Rob Cumming,
Daniel Dardailler, Mark Day, BK Delong, Martin Dürst, Kelly Ford, Jamie
Fox, Edna French, Sylvain Galineau, Al Gilman, Jon Gunderson, Eric Hansen,
Phill Jenkins, Len Kasday, Brian Kelly, Marja-Riitta Koivunen, Sho Kuwamoto,
Jaap van Lelieveld, Susan Lesch, William Loughborough, Greg Lowney, Karen
McCall, Thierry Michel, Charles Oppermann, Dave Pawson, Dave Poehlman, Loretta
Reid, Bruce Roberts, Chris Ridpath, Gregory Rosmaita, Bridie Saccocio, Janina
Sajka, John Slatin, Jim Thatcher, Irène Vatton, Gregg Vanderheiden,
Pawan Vora, Jason White, and Lauren Wood.
For the latest version of any
W3C specification please consult the list of W3C
Technical Reports at http://www.w3.org/TR.
- "The Three-tions of
Accessibility-Aware HTML Authoring Tools," J. Richards.
- Amaya, developed at W3C, is both an authoring tool and browser with a
interface. Amaya serves as a testbed for W3C specifications. Source code,
binaries, and further information are available at http://www.w3.org/Amaya/. The techniques in this
document are based on Amaya version 2.4.
- "Images and
Client-side Image Maps," Amaya's Help page for images and image maps.
- "Amaya - Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 sample implementation" Describes how Amaya,
W3C's WYSIWYG browser/authoring tool, satisfies the guidelines.
Human Interface Guidelines," Apple Computer Inc.
- The A-prompt tool allows authors to check many accessibility features in
HTML pages, and incorporates an "Alternative Information Management Mechanism"
(AIMM)) 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. 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.
- "Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0," J. Treviranus, C.
McCathieNevile, I. Jacobs, and J. Richards, eds. The latest version is available at
- "Techniques For
Evaluation And Implementation Of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines," C.
- "CSS, level 1
Recommendation," B. Bos and 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. Note: CSS1 has been superseded
by CSS2. Tools should implement the CSS2 cascade.
- "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
Features of CSS," I. Jacobs and J. Brewer, eds., 4 August 1999. This W3C
Note 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.
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.
- The W3C HTML Validation Service
validates HTML and XHTML markup.
- "HTML 4.01
Recommendation," D. Raggett, A. Le Hors, and I. Jacobs, eds., 24 December
1999. This HTML 4.01 Recommendation is
http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/REC-html401-19991224. The latest version of HTML 4 is available at
- "WAI Resources:
HTML 4.0 Accessibility Improvements," I. Jacobs, J. Brewer, and D.
Dardailler, eds. This document describes accessibility features in HTML
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
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
- "Accessibility for
Applications Designers," Microsoft Corporation.
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
- "Lotus Notes
Accessibility Guidelines," IBM Special Needs Systems.
Description Framework (RDF) Model and Syntax Specification," O. Lassila, R.
Swick, eds. The 22 February 1999 Recommendation is
http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/REC-rdf-syntax-19990222. The latest version of RDF 1.0 is
available at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-rdf-syntax.
- "Ruby Annotation,"
M. Sawicki, M. Suignard, M. Ishikawa, and M. Dürst, eds. The 17 December
1999 Working Draft is http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WD-ruby-19991217. The latest
version is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/ruby.
Comparison of Schemas for Dublin Core-based Video Metadata Representation,"
- "Accessibility Features of
SMIL," M.-R. Koivunen and I. Jacobs, eds. This W3C Note is
http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/NOTE-SMIL-access-19990921. The latest version of Accessibility Features of
SMIL is available at available at http://www.w3.org/TR/SMIL-access.
for Accessibility," Eric Bergman and Earl Johnson. This paper discusses
specific disabilities including those related to hearing, vision, and cognitive
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.
Software Design Guidelines," compiled by G. Vanderheiden. A thorough
- "User Agent Accessibility
Guidelines," J. Gunderson and I. Jacobs, eds. The latest version of the
User Agent Accessibility Guidelines is available at
- "Techniques for User Agent
Accessibility Guidelines 1.0," J. Gunderson, and I. Jacobs, eds. The latest version of Techniques for User
Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 is available at
- The Web Accessibility Initiative
Evaluation and Repair Tools Working Group tracks and develops tools that
can help repair accessibility errors.
- "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/WCAG10/.
- "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
- "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., 10
February 1998. This XML 1.0 Recommendation is
http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/REC-xml-19980210. The latest version of the XML specification is
available at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-xml.
- "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