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Implementation Techniques for
Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0:

Guideline 4: Integrate accessibility content related features.

W3C Working Draft 27 January 2003

This version:
Latest version:
Previous version:
ATAG 1.0 Recommendation:
Editors of this chapter:

Jan Richards
Charles McCathieNevile

Integrate accessibility solutions into the overall "look and feel"

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


@No techniques yet.@@

ATAG Checkpoint 4.2: Ensure that accessible authoring practices supporting the minimum level requirements for all WCAG 2.0 [WCAG20] checkpoints are among the most obvious and easily initiated by the author. [Priority 2]


  1. Modified Input Field Order: ATAG 2.0 contains ATAG Checkpoint 5.2 does not require that accessibility related controls either obscure or hinder other controls. Instead, the checkpoint emphasizes that these controls should be allotted a screen presence that is appropriate for their importance. For example, some tools have floating properties bars that display input fields appropriate to the currently selected element (see Figure 3.1.2). The relative importance of a property can be communicated to the author in several ways.
  2. Screenshot of maximized and minimized Dreamweaver property dialog for image - including alt-text fieldFigure 3.1.2: Example of a floating properties bar (top: maximized, bottom: minimized). [d]
    (Source: Macromedia Dreamweaver 2.0)

  3. Input Field Highlighting: Visibility of input fields related to accessibility may be further enhanced by visual highlighting. For example, the fields may be distinguished from others using icons (see Figure A-3), color (see Figure A-4), underlining, etc. When these methods are used, it is important to ensure that that they are consistent with the overall look and feel of the authoring tool interface (as per ATAG Checkpoint 5.1). For example, if an authoring tool uses an icon in the shape of a black dot to denote the required field, this convention might be extended so that a red dot is used to denote the accessibility-related fields. An additional consideration is that in order to meet ATAG Checkpoint 7.1, the highlighting must be implemented so that it is available through APIs, allowing an author with disabilities to access the highlighting through assistive devices (MSAA, Java Accessibility API, GNOME accessibility).

    Screenshot showing icon input field highlightingFigure 3.1.3: Input field highlighting with an iconic reference to a note. d (Source: mockup by AUWG)

    Figure 3.1.4: Input field highlighting with colored input field. d (Source: mockup by AUWG)

  4. Grouping Related Input Fields: In some cases, several input fields are required to be completed in order to make a single element accessible. Instead of dispersing these prompts over multiple dialog boxes, it may be more effective to draw them together into one group of controls with a visible tab or other method for accessing the group (see Figure A-5). This can have the additional benefit of allowing accessibility-related help information to be provided without confusion (see "Quick Tips" in the figure, below). The downside of placing all the accessibility related input fields in the same area is that all of them will be neglected if the author does not see the grouping.

    Screenshot of HomeSite tag editor for input elementFigure 3.1.5: Accessibility tab on the input element properties dialog. d (Source: mockup by AUWG)

Other Techniques:

ATAG Checkpoint 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]


ATAG Checkpoint 4.4: Ensure that creating accessible content is a naturally integrated part of the documentation, including examples. [Priority 2]


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