Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0

W3C Working Draft 24 September 2002

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Jutta Treviranus - ATRC, University of Toronto
Charles McCathieNevile - W3C
Jan Richards - University of Toronto
Matt May - W3C


This specification provides guidelines for Web authoring tool developers. Its purpose is two-fold: to assist developers in designing authoring tools that produce accessible Web content and to assist developers in creating an accessible authoring interface.

Authoring tools can enable, encourage, and assist users ("authors") in the creation of accessible Web content through prompts, alerts, checking and repair functions, help files and automated tools. It is as important that all people are able to author content as it is for all people to have access to it. The tools used to create this information, therefore, must also be accessible. Implementation of these guidelines will contribute to the proliferation of Web content that can be read by a broader range of readers and authoring tools that can be used by a broader range of authors in a wider range of contexts with more devices.

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

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 Public Working Draft of a document which will supersede the W3C Recommendation Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [ ATAG10]. It has been made available for review by W3C Members and other interested parties, in accordance with W3C Process. It is not endorsed by the W3C or its Members. It is inappropriate to refer to this document other than as a "work in progress".

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 charter. 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 AUWG is part of the WAI Technical Activity.

This draft refers to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for specification of accessible content and refers non-normatively to the Techniques for Authoring Tool Accessibility [ ATAG20-TECHS].

The AUWG expects the ATAG 2.0 to be backwards-compatible with ATAG 1.0, or at most to make only minor changes in requirements. Before this document reaches last call, the Working Group will publish a detailed analysis of the differences in requirements.

The working group maintains an ATAG 2.0 Issues List and a log of changes between successive Working Drafts.

Please send comments about this document to the public mailing list: w3c-wai-au@w3.org (public archives). Please note that this document may contain typographical errors. It was published as soon as possible since review of the content itself is important, although noting typographical errors is also helpful.

For information about the current activities of the working group, please refer to the AUWG home page. This page includes an explanation of the inter-relation of each document as well as minutes and previous drafts.

Table of contents

1. Introduction

1.1 Definition of Authoring Tool

In these guidelines, the term "authoring tool" refers to the wide range of software used for creating Web content, including:

1.2 Role of authoring tools in Web accessibility

Everyone should have the ability to create and access Web content.

Authoring tools are pivotal in achieving this principle. The accessibility of authoring tools determines who can create Web content and the output of authoring tools determines who can access Web content.

The guidelines set forth in this document will benefit people regardless of disability. This includes people who need to use their eyes for another task and are unable to view a screen, people in environments where the use of sound is not practical, and people who use small mobile devices with small screens, no keyboard, or no mouse.

The guidelines reflect the following goals:

The accessibility of authoring tools is defined primarily by existing specifications for accessible software. The accessibility of authoring tool output is defined by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

1.3 How this document is organized

This document contains four guidelines that reflect the goals of accessible authoring tool design:

Each guideline includes:

Each checkpoint is intended to be sufficiently specific to be verifiable, while being sufficiently general to allow developers the freedom to use the most appropriate strategies to satisfy it. The checkpoints specify requirements for meeting the guidelines. Each checkpoint includes:

A separate document, entitled "Techniques for Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0" [ATAG20-TECHS], provides suggestions and examples of how to achieve the recommendations in this document. Another document [ATAG20-CHECKLIST] lists all checkpoints, ordered by priority, for convenient reference.

1.4 Checkpoint priorities

Each checkpoint in the specification has been assigned one of the following priority levels to indicate the importance of the checkpoint in satisfying the guidelines:

Priority 1
The checkpoint is essential.
Priority 2
The checkpoint is important.
Priority 3
The checkpoint is beneficial.
Relative Priority (Level 1, 2, or 3)
The importance of the checkpoint depends on the specific requirements of WCAG and is therefore relative to priorities assigned in those guidelines.

Note: The choice of priority level for each checkpoint is based on the assumption that the author is a competent, but not necessarily expert, user of the authoring tool, and that the author has little or no knowledge of accessibility. For example, the author is not expected to have read all of the documentation, but is expected to know how to turn to the documentation for assistance.

1.5 Conformance

An ATAG conformance claim for an authoring tool must indicate which of the following conformance levels has been met:

Conformance Level "A"
Tool has met all Priority 1 checkpoints and has also met all Relative Priority checkpoints to at least Level 1.
Conformance Level "Double-A"
Tool has met all Priority 1 and 2 checkpoints and has also met all Relative Priority checkpoints to at least Level 2.
Conformance Level "Triple-A"
Tool has met all checkpoints and has also met all Relative Priority checkpoints to Level 3.

For the purposes of ATAG 2.0 conformance claims, tools may be bundled together (e.g. a markup editor and a evaluation and repair tool or a multimedia editor with a custom plug-in), however, this has two important consequences:

  1. The bundled tools must be distributed together in order for each to maintain that conformance claim.
  2. Bundled tools may have more difficulty meeting the checkpoints in Guideline 4 (Integrate accessibility solutions into the overall "look and feel") than single, integrated tools.

Conformance Icons: There are currently no conformance icons available for this draft specification. If it becomes a Recommendation, it is expected that there will be conformance icons like those available for ATAG 1.0.

1.6 Accessible authoring processes

From the standpoint of accessibility, Web authoring is a process that may involve one or more tools in parallel or in sequence. In order to ensure that the Web content produced as a result of a Web authoring process is accessible, developers and purchasers should choose tools that are either ATAG 2.0 conformant or ATAG 2.0-"Friendly". ATAG-"Friendly" tools are tools which, although they do not conform with ATAG, are also very unlikely to degrade the accessibility of Web content. An example of an ATAG-friendly tool is one that converts the URI locations in a Web page from absolute to relative prior to publishing.

In some cases, strategic ordering of the tools in a Web authoring process may increase the likelihood of producing accessible content. For example, a markup editor that does not conform to ATAG might be used before an ATAG conformant evaluation and repair tool. While this is, of course, preferable to not addressing accessibility at all, the original markup tool is still considered ATAG non-conformant. Considering the markup editor and evaluation and repair tool together is possible, but due to the low likelihood of proper integration between the tools, the result is unlikely to be a high level of ATAG conformance.

2. Guidelines

GUIDELINE 1: Ensure that the tool itself is accessible

An 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 document.

Authoring tools must also ensure that the author can navigate a document efficiently while editing. Authors who use screen readers, refreshable Braille displays, or screen magnifiers can make limited use (if any) of graphical artifacts that communicate the structure of the document and act as signposts when traversing it. Authors who cannot use a mouse (especially 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 accessible form.

1.1 Ensure that the authoring interface follows all operating environment conventions that benefit accessibility. (This applies at three priority levels: [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).
This checkpoint requires all aspects of the authoring interface to be accessible to the author. The techniques for this checkpoint include references to checklists and guidelines for a number of platforms and to general guidelines for accessible applications. In many cases several sets of standards will be applicable.
[@@issue 7
there is no minimum requirement here]

See also: Techniques for checkpoint 1.1

1.2 Ensure that the authoring interface enables accessible editing of all element and object properties. [Priority 1]
Note This checkpoint is a special case of checkpoint 1.1 that is especially important to authoring tools.

At minimum (required basic functionality): provide at least one accessible way to edit every element and object property supported by the tool.

See also: Techniques for checkpoint 1.2

1.3 Ensure that the authoring interface enables the author to edit the structure of the document [Priority 2]
Note This checkpoint is a special case of checkpoint 1.1 that is especially important to authoring tools.

At minimum (required basic functionality): the checkpoint requires that the author be able to copy, cut or paste an element and its content at any level of the document tree hierarchy.

See also: Techniques for checkpoint 1.3

1.4 Allow the display preferences of the authoring interface to be changed without affecting the document markup. [Priority 1]
Note This checkpoint applies primarily to WYSIWYG markup editing tools and requires that the author be able to view the content, as it is being authored, in a way that differs from the presumed default appearance of the rendered content.

At minimum there must be some mechanism for changing the document display independently of the document markup.

There are a number of ways that this can be achieved, including supporting operating environment display preferences and allowing the author to specify an editing style sheet that is different from those included with the end document. In addition, there must be some means by which textual alternatives can be displayed to the author in place of non-text elements. [@@Issue 8 - need to clean this paragraph up - some is techniques, plus wording and some is useful for the checkpoint]

See also: Techniques for checkpoint 1.4

1.5 Ensure that the authoring interface enables accessible navigation of editing views via the document structure. [Priority 2]
Rationale: simplify navigation for the author.

At minimum, the author should be able to move from element to element. [@@Issue 9: is this actually what we need?]

See also: Techniques for checkpoint 1.5

1.6 Ensure the authoring interface allows the author to search within the editing views. [Priority 2]
Note This checkpoint requires that tools provide a search facility. While this is a common feature in most text markup editing tools, it is less common for other authoring tools (i.e. SVG and editors).

At minimum, the tool should allow basic text search with a choice of skipping or including markup

See also: Techniques for checkpoint 1.6

GUIDELINE 2: Ensure that the tool is designed to produce accessible content

The most basic determinant of the accessibility of Web content is the degree to which the authoring tool that produced it was designed with attention to markup validity and accessibility. Tools that generate and preserve high quality markup are well prepared to meet the other guidelines.

Generating 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] @@Does this bar Flash, etc.?@@

Rationale: Many of the W3C language recommendations have been designed to enhance accessibility and have had accessibility best practices compiled for them. Authoring tools that make use these language recommendations will, therefore, benefit from these the accessibility features built in to the languages as well as accessibility best practices.

Success Criteria:

  1. Using a W3C language Recommendation may involves reading or writing Web content in the format. The tool may also use non-W3C formats, in addition to the W3C Recommendations.
  2. A W3C Recommendation is considered available to a specific version of an authoring tool, if the Recommendation has reached the Candidate Recommendation at least two (2) years before the version is released for use.
  3. Whether a W3C Recommendation is appropriate depends on a comparison of the features of the tool with the requirements of the task. Critical appropriateness criteria will depend on the task, but may include media, scripting, and styling support. When comparing the appropriateness of W3C recommendations with non-W3C formats for a particular task, accessibility must be included as a comparison criteria.
  4. Inform author in marketing, packaging and documentary material of the name and version of any W3C Recommendations used. This notice must specify whether the conformance is partial or complete.

See also: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 2.1, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 2.1

2.2 Ensure that markup which the tool automatically generates is valid for the language the tool is generating. [Priority 1]

Rationale: Following language specifications will ensure that user agents are able to render the content properly and will also make possible syntactical transformations of the content to personalize it to the needs of individual users.

Success Criteria:

  1. Whenever the tool writes markup that the author has not specified exactly (i.e. inputted into a text editor), that markup must be valid as that is defined by the format specification or W3C Language Recommendation.

See also: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 2.2, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 2.2

Supporting 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 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.

2.3 Ensure that the author can produce accessible content in the markup language(s) supported by the tool. [Priority 1]

Rationale: This checkpoint would allow authors to create accessible content within the tool.

Success Criteria:

  1. The author can add or edit any elements or element properties of the language that can enhance accessibility.

See also: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 2.3, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 2.3

2.4 Ensure that the tool preserves all accessibility information during transformations, and conversions. [Priority 1]
Rationale: Accessibility information is often vulnerable to loss when content is converted or transformed from one format into another. Note this checkpoint covers importing from a format the tool does not use.

Success Criteria:

  1. Accessibility content must be preserved. Where sufficient structure information to allow reversal of the transformation is not preserved, the author must be notified that the transformation cannot be reversed accessibly. [@@Issue 1: this requirement is still under discussion]

See also Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 2.4, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 2.4

2.5 Ensure that when the tool automatically generates content it conforms to the WCAG. [Relative Priority]


Success Criteria:

  1. Any decisions made for the author by the tool should optimize the accessibility of the content (as per WCAG 2.0 [WCAG20]). This applies to the choice of markup type, file type, and markup practices. The author may be able to override the choices proposed or made by the tool.

See also: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 2.5, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 2.5

2.6 Ensure that all pre-authored content for the tool conforms to WCAG. [Relative Priority]
Rationale: Including WCAG conformant pre-authored content (e.g. accessible markup and content for templates, alt text, long descriptions for images, captions, auditory descriptions and collated text transcriptions for multimedia objects, and accessible design and functional alternatives for applets and scripts, etc.) frees large numbers of authors from individually having to spend time and energy correcting problems that could have been addressed only once, if done at development time.

Success Criteria:

  1. All Web content (templates, clip art, multimedia objects, scripts, applets, example pages, etc) included with distribution of the tool or provided preferentially to the users of the tool, must conform to WCAG.
  2. When WCAG requires alternative descriptions for objects that are not able to store this information directly, an indirect storage mechanism must be implemented.

See also: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 2.6, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 2.6

2.7 Allow the author to preserve markup not recognized by the tool. [Priority 2]

Rationale: Markup not recognized by the tool, may still be present to enhance accessibility.

Success Criteria:

  1. Preserve all well-formed markup.
  2. Or query the author for their consent before removing or changing unrecognized markup.
  3. It is acceptable for a tool to reject a document it cannot process.

See also: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 2.7, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 2.7

GUIDELINE 3: Support the author in the production of accessible content

While ensuring the accessibility of automated output provides a solid foundation, the author will likely act in ways that confound this. Therefore, it is especially important that the authoring tool support the author by guiding them in matters that involve an element of human judgment or creativity, providing automated or semi-automated checking and correction facilities and by providing high quality accessibility documentation.

Guiding the author to produce 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 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]
At minimum (required basic functionality): A method for adding alternative information, appropriate to the author-tool interaction, must be provided to the author whenever a non-text object (see Note) has been inserted.

Rationale:This checkpoint requires authoring tools to ask for (and support the creation of) alternate text, captions, auditory descriptions, collated text transcripts for video, etc. at times appropriate to the author-tool interaction.

Note: Some checkpoints in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 [WCAG20] do not apply. [@@Issue 5: identify which checkpoints apply]

More advanced implementations might provide special authoring facilities that automate some of the process of generating alternative information (ex. voice recognition to produce collated text transcripts).

See also: Techniques for checkpoint 3.1

3.2 Help the author create structured content and separate information from its presentation. [Relative Priority]
At minimum: A method for adding alternative information, appropriate to the author-tool interaction, must be provided to the author whenever a non-text object (see Note) has been inserted.

Note: Some checkpoints in Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 [WCAG20] do not apply. [@@Issue 6: identify which ones]

Techniques for checkpoint 3.2

3.3 Do not automatically generate equivalent alternatives or reuse previously authored alternatives without author confirmation, except when the function is known with certainty. [Priority 1]
Rationale: Improperly generated alternatives can interfere with accessibility checking.

At minimum basic required functionality: Usually, when a new object is inserted, the function is unknown, so the tool should prompt the author to enter an appropriate equivalent alternative without providing a generated default entry (e.g. the file name and size). However, alternatives may be automatically generated or re-used when the tool has either placed the object for a specific purpose (e.g. navigation bar) or the user has defined a purpose for the object. Only an alternative that has been explicitly associated with an object may be offered as a default entry for the author to approve.

See also: Techniques for checkpoint 3.3

3.4 Provide functionality for managing, editing, and reusing alternative equivalents for multimedia objects. [Priority 3]

Rationale: Compliance with checkpoint 3.3 may be simplified by providing an alternative equivalent management system.

At minimum: store associations between the multimedia objects and alternatives created by the author, allowing the author to edit the alternatives and reuse them easily.

More advanced implementations might collect alternatives from a variety of sources (the author, prepackaged, the Web) and provide powerful tools for managing the associations, including search functions and object similarity estimates.

See also: Techniques for checkpoint 3.4

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 (where possible, automatically) identify inaccessible markup, and enable its correction even when the markup itself is hidden from the author.

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 (see 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.

3.5 Check for and inform the author of accessibility problems. [Relative Priority]
At minimum (required basic functionality): this utility must provide at least one, automated or manual, check for each WCAG 2.0 [WCAG20] checkpoint (of relevant priority). When this utility runs it must always check those questions pertaining to "In General" WCAG 2.0 checkpoints, but only those "conditional" WCAG 2.0 checkpoints that have their conditions fulfilled by the document.

Rationale: provide the author with a utility that helps check documents for accessibility problems.

More advanced implementation: the checks should be automated to the greatest extent possible.

See also: Techniques for checkpoint 3.5

3.6 Assist authors in correcting accessibility problems. [Relative Priority]
Rationale: once accessibility problems have been found, authoring tools help the author to correct them properly.

At a minimum, provide context-sensitive help with the accessibility checking required by checkpoint 3.5.

Advanced implementations: provide the author with automated or semi-automated correction tools, in addition to guidelines and examples.

See also: Techniques for checkpoint 3.6

3.7 Provide the author with a summary of the document's accessibility status. [Priority 3]
Rationale: encourage authoring tools to notify authors of accessibility problems in a coherent way.

At minimum (required basic functionality): provide a list of the problems by type.

Advanced implementations might integrate the summary with the tool's repair functionality to increase the flexibility with which problems can be corrected (see checkpoint ?.?).

See also: Techniques for checkpoint 3.7

Promoting accessibility in help and documentation:

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.

3.8 Document all features of the tool that promote the production of accessible content. [Priority 1]
Rationale: Documenting each accessibility related feature of the tool (dialog boxes, utility, code views, etc.) will help authors to learn how to use them effectively.

At minimum (required basic functionality): Document the purpose and use of all features of the tool that help create accessible content.

More advanced implementations Provide context-sensitive links to this documentation from the actual features, within the authoring tool user interface. Also provide a dedicated "Accessibility" section of the documentation for this material.

See also: Techniques for checkpoint 3.8

3.9 Document the process of using the tool to produce accessible content. [Relative Priority]
Rationale: Motivated users of the tool may be able to produce accessible content without the support provided by mechanisms such as accessibility checking and repair functions.

At minimum (required basic functionality): Document the techniques required to meet all WCAG checkpoints at the relevant priority level - (these may include work-around methods where the tool does not yet have the appropriate functionality).

Optional advanced functionality: Automating the process of producing accessible content will mean that nothing special needs to be done to meet this checkpoint. But providing context-sensitive linking to this documentation may be an intermediary development strategy.

See also: Techniques for checkpoint 3.9

GUIDELINE 4: 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 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.

4.1 Ensure that the functionalities for checkpoints 3.1, 3.2, 3.5 and 3.6 are always clearly available to the user [Priority 1]

Rationale: The user must be easily able to turn on accessibility support functionality.

Minimum (required basic functionality): The user interface component to initiate the function must be a visible part of the main user interface.

More advanced (suggested): Allow the user to configure this to happen on a schedule or at user request

See also: checkpoints 3.1, 3.2, 3.5, 3.6@@3.6 added???@@. Techniques for checkpoint 4.1.

4.2 Ensure that accessible authoring practices supporting the minimum requirements for all WCAG checkpoints are among the most obvious and easily initiated by the author. [Priority 2]
Rationale: that accessibility-related functionality be integrated as seamlessly as possible.

At minimum, when there is an accessible and a less accessible means for performing an action, the user interface of the tool should be organized so that the accessible means is at least as visible in the user interface and at least as easy to activate in terms of mouse clicks and keystrokes than the less accessible means.

More advanced implementations might see accessibility features such as checking, integrated to the same level as analogous features unrelated to accessibility.

For example, if underlining or color changes are used to notify the author, while they work, of syntax and spelling errors, accessibility problems should be similarly flagged.

See also: Techniques for checkpoint 4.2

4.3 Ensure that all functionality (prompts, checkers, information icons, etc.) related to accessible authoring practices is naturally integrated into the overall look and feel of the tool. [Priority 2]
Rationale: user interfaces can increase the probability that authors will use accessible authoring practices, even when less accessible alternatives are provided by the tool for reasons of completeness.

At minimum, the accessibility features should not contrast with the normal operation of the tool. This means that they should be operable with approximately the same number of mouse clicks or keystrokes, the same amount of instruction, and the same degree of flexibility as other features. For example, if an element's properties are displayed in a floating toolbar, accessibility-related prompts should be added to this toolbar, not implemented as intrusive pop-up boxes.

More advanced solutions might purposefully impede the visibility and use of the less accessible means.

See also: Techniques for checkpoint 4.3

4.4 Ensure that creating accessible content is a naturally integrated part of the documentation, including examples. [Priority ?] [@@ No longer relative - suggested P2]
Rationale: This checkpoint promotes the production of accessible content by implicitly demonstrating to the author that all content, regardless of purpose, should comply with the WCAG guidelines.

At minimum (required basic functionality): all documented examples of the authoring tool interface (i.e. dialog boxes, code views, etc.) should include any relevant accessible authoring practices.

See also: Techniques for checkpoint 4.4

3. 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 authors 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 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 2.0 [WCAG20] describes how to create accessible Web content.
Accessible Authoring Practice
"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.
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 the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0 [WCAG20].
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 "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. 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:
"Captions" are essential text equivalents for movie audio. Captions consist of a 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 markup language).
Check for
As used in checkpoint 4.1, "check for" can refer to three types of checking:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
A "document" is a series of elements that are defined by a markup language (e.g., HTML 4 or an XML application).
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.
To "inform" is to make the author aware of an event or situation through alert, prompt, sound, flash, or other means.
Markup Language
Authors encode information using a "markup language" such as HTML [HTML4], SVG [SVG], or MathML [MATHML].
Presentation Markup
"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.
In this document prompt does not refer to the narrow software sense of a "prompt," rather it is used as a verb meaning to urge, suggest and encourage. The form and timing that this prompting takes can be user configurable. "Prompting" does not depend upon the author to seek out the support but is initiated by the tool. "Prompting" is more than checking, correcting, and providing help and documentation as encompassed in guidelines 4, 5, 6. The goal of prompting the author is to encourage, urge and support the author in creating meaningful equivalent text without causing frustration that may cause the author to turn off access options. Prompting should be implemented in such a way that it causes a positive disposition and awareness on the part of the author toward accessible authoring practices.
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 (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 entry.
Structural Markup
"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 BLOCKQUOTE element 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 other content.
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 assistive technologies.
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 separate window.

4. Acknowledgments

Many thanks to the following people who have contributed through review and comment: Giorgio Brajnik, Daniel Dardailler, Katie Haritos-Shea, Phill Jenkins, Len Kasday, Marjolein Katsma, William Loughborough, Matthias Müller-Prove, Graham Oliver, Chris Ridpath, Gregory Rosmaita, Heather Swayne, Carlos Velasco.

This document would not have been possible without the work of those who contributed to The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0

5. References

For the latest version of any W3C specification please consult the list of W3C Technical Reports at http://www.w3.org/TR.

"Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0", J. Treviranus, C. McCathieNevile, I. Jacobs, and J. Richards, eds., 3 February 2000. This W3C Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/2000/REC-ATAG10-20000203/.
"Techniques for Authoring Tool Accessibility," J. Treviranus, J. Richards, I. Jacobs, and C. McCathieNevile editors. The latest version is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/ATAG10-TECHS.
"Conformance icons for ATAG 1.0." Information about ATAG 1.0 conformance icons is available at http://www.w3.org/WAI/ATAG10-Conformance.
"CSS, level 1 Recommendation," B. Bos and H. Wium Lie, editors., 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 in particular.
"CSS, level 2 Recommendation," B. Bos, H. Wium Lie, C. Lilley, and I. Jacobs, editors., 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.
"HTML 4.01 Recommendation," D. Raggett, A. Le Hors, and I. Jacobs, editors., 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 http://www.w3.org/TR/html4.
"Mathematical Markup Language," P. Ion and R. Miner, editors., 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.
"Resource Description Framework (RDF) Model and Syntax Specification," O. Lassila, R. Swick, editors. 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.
"Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) 1.0 Specification (Working Draft)," J. Ferraiolo, editor. The latest version of the SVG specification is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/SVG.
"Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0," J. Gunderson, and I. Jacobs, editors. The latest version of Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/UAAG10-TECHS/.
"Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (Working Draft)," W. Chisholm, G. Vanderheiden, and J. White, editors. The latest version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/. Note: This document is still a working draft.
Not available.
" Implementation Techniques for Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines 'Wombat'," Jutta Treviranus, Charles McCathieNevile, Jan Richards, Matt May. Note: This document is still a working group draft.
"The Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.0," T. Bray, J. Paoli, C. M. Sperberg-McQueen, editors., 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.

Level Double-A conformance icon, W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 Valid CSS! Valid XHTML 1.0!