Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0

W3C Working Draft 25 June 2004

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Jutta Treviranus - ATRC, University of Toronto
Charles McCathieNevile
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 authors (users of authoring tools) 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 be 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. A list of current W3C publications and the latest revision of this technical report can be found in the W3C technical reports index at http://www.w3.org/TR/.

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. The AUWG is part of the WAI Technical Activity.

The Working Group maintains a list of patent disclosures and issues related to ATAG 2.0.

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 working group has provided a reference called ATAG 2.0 References to WCAG [WCAG-REFS] mapping the ATAG checkpoints to WCAG 1.0 and the January 2003 draft of WCAG 2.0, currently a W3C Working Draft.

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.

Publication as a Working Draft does not imply endorsement by the W3C Membership. This is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to cite this document as other than work in progress.

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

Any software or service that authors may use to create or modify Web content for publication.

Within a single authoring tool, different parts of the authoring interface will fall under one or more of the following types of authoring functionality or functionality that falls outside this classification scheme. The types of authoring functions used will help determine which of the ATAG 2.0 implementation techniques are applicable to a particular tool:

1. Code-level Authoring Functions:

Author has full control over all aspects of the resulting Web content that have bearing on the final outcome. This covers, but is not limited to plain text editing, as this category also covers the manipulation of symbolic representations that are sufficiently fine-grained to allow the author the same freedom of control as plain text editing (e.g. graphical tag placeholders).
Examples: Text editors, text editors enhanced with graphical tags, etc.
Techniques symbol: TBA

2. WYSIWYG ("What-you-see-is-what-you-get") Authoring Functions:

Author has control over entities that closely resemble the final appearance and behaviour of the resulting Web content.
Examples: Rendered Web page editors, bitmap graphics editors, etc.
Techniques symbol: TBA

3. Object Oriented Authoring Functions:

Author has control over non-WYSIWYG entities that represent a functional abstraction from the low level aspects of the resulting Web content.
Examples: timelines, waveforms, vector-based graphic editors, etc.
Techniques symbol: TBA

4. Indirect Authoring Functions:

Authors have control of only high-level parameters related to the automated production of the resulting Web content.This may include interfaces that assist the author to create and organize Web content without the author having control over the markup or programming implementation.
Examples: Content managment systems, site building wizards, site management tools, courseware, weblogging tools, content aggregators and conversion tools, etc
Techniques symbol: TBA

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.

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 (see "How People with Disabilities Use the Web [PWD-USE-WEB]):

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. People using Users of small mobile devices (with small screens, no keyboard, and no mouse) have similar functional needs as some people users with disabilities.

The guidelines set forth in this document promote the following goals:

  1. the accessibility of the authoring tool,
  2. the design of the tool to produce accessible content,
  3. supporting the author in the production of accessible content, and
  4. the integration of accessibility solutions into the overall "look and feel" of the authoring tool.

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:

The first guideline addresses the accessibility of the authoring tool, itself. Guidelines 2, 3, and 4, on the other hand address the accessibility of the content produced by the tool. These three guidelines build upon each other, with guideline 2 establishing core requirements, guideline 3 establishing key user author support functionality and guideline 4 specifying general considerations for how any functionality related to accessibility should be integrated with the rest of the tool.

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.

1.4 Relationship to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

ATAG 2.0 builds upon the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Authoring tools developed using these guidelines will commonly produce content that conforms to WCAG by default. This also means that authors using ATAG conforming tools will more easily produce quality content that can be accessed by larger audiences.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are the global standard for Web accessibility. Many countries and organizations have adopted WCAG for their Web content. An ATAG-conformant tool indicates that the requirements set for authors in these environments can be met more easily.

1.5 Relationship to ISO 16071

Additionally, this draft refers to an ISO document titled "Ergonomics of human-system interaction - Guidance on accessibility for human-computer interfaces" [ISO16071]. The ISO document contains guidelines relevant to software and operating system accessibility.

2. Determining Conformance

2.1 Responsibility for claims

A conformance claim (with or without an accompanying conformance icon) is an assertion that an authoring tool has satisfied the requirements of a chosen conformance level. Claimants (or relevant assuring parties) are solely responsible for the validity of their claims, keeping claims up to date, and proper use of the conformance icons.

The existence of a conformance claim (with or without an accompanying conformance icon) does not imply that W3C has reviewed the claim or assured its validity. As of the publication of this document, W3C does not act as an assuring party, but it may do so in the future, or it may establish recommendations for assuring parties.

Claimants are expected to modify or retract a claim if it may be demonstrated that the claim is not valid. Claimants are encouraged to claim conformance to the most recent Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Recommendation available.

This specification imposes no restrictions about:

2.2 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.
WCAG 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.
ISO16071 Relative Priority (Level 1, 2, or 3)
The importance of the checkpoint depends on the specific requirements of ISO16071, and conformance is measured as follows:
Priority 1
Conforms to all guidelines designated "application" and "core" in Part 7.2 of ISO16071.
Priority 2
Conforms to all guidelines designated "application", "core" and "primary" in Part 7.2 of ISO16071.
Priority 3
Conforms to all guidelines designated "application", "core", "primary" and "secondary" in Part 7.2 of ISO16071.

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.

2.3 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.

In the above, "meeting the checkpoints" means satisfying all of the success criteria associated with that particular checkpoint.

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.

Satisfying certain success criteria may involve usability issues and as such may require integrating aspects of usability testing.

Authoring tools claiming conformance to ATAG 2.0 must also state a version of WCAG to which its output conforms. For example, a tool may claim ATAG 2.0 conformance with WCAG 1.0, because its accessibility checking tools test for WCAG 1.0 conformance, and the tool's output conforms to WCAG 1.0. Another tool may claim ATAG 2.0 conformance with WCAG 2.0 because its native file format has a WCAG 2.0 Techniques document, and/or could not claim conformance to WCAG 1.0. A third tool may claim ATAG 2.0 conformance with both versions of WCAG.

For information on ATAG 2.0 conformance regarding individual versions of WCAG, see Resolving ATAG 2.0 References to WCAG [WCAG-REFS].

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.

2.4 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. For example, 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.

3. Guidelines

GUIDELINE 1: Ensure that the tool itself is accessible

This guideline requires that the design of all aspects of the authoring tool, including the user authoring interface, installation procedure, documentation, and help files, must be accessible. This entails following the all applicable accessibility guidelines (Checkpoint 1.1) as well as other considerations specific to authoring interfaces.

The special nature of authoring interfaces dictates that special consideration be paid to several specific functions of the user authoring interface design. These include ensuring accessible editing of all properties (Checkpoint 1.2), allowing the editor display preferences to be changed independently of the markup (Checkpoint 1.3), making use of document structure for navigation and editing (Checkpoint 1.4), and providing an effective searching mechanism (Checkpoint 1.5).

1.1 Ensure that the authoring interface follows applicable software accessibility guidelines. [ISO16071 Relative Priority]

Rationale: If the authoring tool interface does not follow these conventions, the author who depends upon the techniques associated with the conventions is not likely to be able to use the tool.

Techniques: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 1.1, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 1.1

Success Criteria:

  1. The authoring tool interface must conform to [ISO16071].
1.2 Ensure that the authoring interface enables accessible editing of element and object properties. [ISO16071 Relative Priority]

Rationale: Element or object properties displayed and edited through graphic means are not accessible to authors using screen readers, Braille displays or screen enhancers. The explicit property value should be accessible to those technologies which read text and support authors editing text.

Techniques: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 1.2, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 1.2

Success Criteria:

  1. At least one editing method must conform to [ISO16071] for each element and object property that is editable by the tool.
1.3 Allow the display preferences of the authoring interface to be changed without affecting the document markup. [Priority 1]

Rationale: Authors may require a set of display preferences to view and control the document that is different from the desired default display style for the published document (e.g. a particular text-background combination that differs from the published version).

Techniques: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 1.3, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 1.3

Success Criteria:

  1. All editing views must display text equivalents for any non-text content
  2. All editing views must either respect operating system display settings (for color, contrast, size, and font) or, from within the tool, provide a means of changing color, contrast, size and font, without affecting the content markup.
1.4 Ensure that the authoring interface enables the author to navigate the structure and perform structure-based edits. [Priority 2]

Rationale: Efficient authoring requires that the author be able to move quickly to arbitrary locations in the content and, once there, make modifications beyond character-by-character edits. This is usually best accomplished by making use of any explicit structure that may have been encoded with hierarchy-based markup. When explicit structure is unavailable, the implicit structure in the visual look and layout of content may sometimes be used.

Techniques: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 1.4, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 1.4

Success Criteria:

  1. In any element hierarchy, the author must be able, with a device independent action, to move editing focus from any structural element to any element immediately above, immediately below or in the same level in the hierarchy.
  2. In any element hierarchy, the author must be able, with a device independent action, to select, copy, cut and paste any element, and its content.
1.5 Ensure the authoring interface allows the author to search within the editing views. [Priority 2]

Rationale: Search functions facilitate author navigation of content as it is being authored by allowing the author to move focus quickly to arbitrary points in the content. Including the capability to search within text equivalents of rendered non-text content increases the accessibility of the search function.

Techniques: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 1.5, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 1.5

Success Criteria:

  1. The authoring tool must have a search function for all editing views.
  2. The author must be able to search for text within all text equivalents of any rendered non-text content.
  3. The author must be able to specify whether to search content, markup, or both.

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

The creation of accessible content is dependent on the actions of the tool and the author. This guideline delineates the responsibilities that rest exclusively with the tool.

The first responsibility is to create valid, standards-based Web content, this can be rendered reliably by more user agents, including assistive technologies (Checkpoint 2.1). The next responsibility is to support formats that enable accessible content (Checkpoint 2.2).

Web content produced by an authoring tool is most likely to be accessible, if the content is created in accordance with the requirements of WCAG and preserved in that state throughout the authoring process. The checkpoint requirements that support this include ensuring that it is possible to author accessible content (Checkpoint 2.3), preserving accessible or unknown content (Checkpoint 2.4), automatically generating accessible content (Checkpoint 2.5), and including accessible pre-authored content (Checkpoint 2.6).

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

Rationale: Following language specifications is the most basic requirement for accessible content production. When content is valid, it is easier to check and correct accessibility errors and user agents are better able to render the content properly and personalize the content to the needs of individual content consumer's users' devices.

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

Success Criteria:

  1. All markup strings written automatically by the tool (i.e. not authored "by hand") must conform to the applicable markup language specification.
2.2 Support formats that enable the creation of WCAG-conformant content. [Priority 1]

Rationale: Some formats are WCAG-capable, enabling the creation of web content that conforms to WCAG, while other formats may intrinsically preclude this possibility.

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

Success Criteria:

  1. The authoring tool must support at least one WCAG-capable format for each Web content type produced.
  2. When format selection is automatic, the selected format must be WCAG-capable.

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

Rationale: The ability to produce accessible Web content is the most basic requirement of this document.

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

Success Criteria:

  1. Tools must always meet at least one of the following:
    • generate accessible content automatically
    • provide the author with accessible options for every authoring task
    • provide a method for authoring "by hand"
2.4 Ensure that the tool preserves all unrecognized markup and accessibility information during transformations, and conversions. [Priority 2]

Rationale: Unrecognized markup may include recent technologies that have been added to enhance accessibility and should be preserved during conversions (i.e. taking content encoded in one markup language and re-encoding it in another) or transformations (i.e. modifying the encoding of content without changing the markup language). Accessibility information should also be preserved.

Techniques: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 2.4, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 2.4

Success Criteria:

  1. During all transformations and conversions, all unrecognized markup and accessibility information must be preserved, unless prevented by limitations of the target format.
  2. When unrecognized markup or accessibility information cannot be preserved during a conversion or transformation, the author must be notified before any change is made.
2.5 Ensure that when the tool automatically generates content it conforms to the WCAG. [WCAG Relative Priority]

Rationale: Authoring tools that automatically generate content that does not conform to WCAG are an obvious source of accessibility problems.

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

Success Criteria:

  1. Unless the author explicitly instructs the authoring tool otherwise, all content generated by the tool must conform to WCAG.
2.6 Ensure that all pre-authored content for the tool conforms to WCAG. [WCAG Relative Priority]

Rationale: Pre-authored content (e.g. templates, images, videos) is often included with authoring tools for the convenience of the author. When this content is WCAG-conformant, it is more convenient for user authors and more easily reused.

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

Success Criteria:

  1. Any Web content (e.g. templates, clip art, multimedia objects, scripts, applets, example pages) that is bundled or preferentially licensed (i.e. better terms of use for users of the authoring tool than for the general public), must conform to WCAG.

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

Actions may be taken at the author's initiative that may result in accessibility problems. The authoring tool should include features that provide support and guidance to the author in these situations, so that accessible authoring practices can be followed and accessible web content can be produced.

This support includes prompting and assisting the author to create accessible web content (Checkpoint 3.1), especially for information that cannot be generated automatically, checking for accessibility problems (Checkpoint 3.2), and assisting in the repair of accessibility problems (Checkpoint 3.3). In performing these functions, the authoring tool must avoid including automatically generated equivalent alternatives or previously authored equivalent alternatives without author consent (Checkpoint 3.4). The authoring tool may also provide automated means for managing equivalent alternatives (Checkpoint 3.5) and provide accessibility status summaries (Checkpoint 3.6).

Accessibility-related documentation provides support and guidance to the author. The documentation must accommodate the various levels of author familiarity with web content accessibility issues. The checkpoint requirements include documenting accessible content promoting features (Checkpoint 3.7), and ensuring that documentation demonstrates authoring practices and workflow processes that result in accessible content (Checkpoint 3.8).

All functions that support accessible authoring practices should allow author preferences to be configurable to allow for different authoring styles. Custom configurations should improve use of the tool and make authors more receptive to assistive interventions from the authoring tool.

3.1 Prompt and assist the author to create accessible content. [WCAG Relative Priority]

Rationale: Appropriate assistance should increase the likelihood that typical authors will create WCAG-conformant content. Different tool developers will accomplish this goal in ways that are appropriate to their products, processes and authors.

Techniques: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 3.1, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 3.1

Success Criteria:

  1. When the actions of the author risk creating accessibility problems (e.g. image inserted, author typing invalid element into a code view, author initiating a page creation wizard, etc.), the tool must introduce the appropriate accessible authoring practice. This introduction may proceed according to a user author-configurable schedule.
  2. The intervention must occur at least once before completion of authoring (e.g. final save, publishing, etc.).
3.2 Check for and inform the author of accessibility problems. [WCAG Relative Priority]

Rationale: Authors may not notice or be able to identify accessibility problems. The tool can assist in their identification.

Techniques: Techniques for checkpoint 3.2, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 3.2.

Success Criteria:

  1. The tool must provide a check (automated check, semi-automated check or manual check) for detecting violations of each requirement of WCAG.
3.3 Assist authors in repairing accessibility problems. [WCAG Relative Priority]

Rationale: Assistance by the tool may simplify the task of repairing accessibility problems for some authors, and make it possible for others.

Techniques: Techniques for checkpoint 3.3, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 3.3

Success Criteria:

  1. The tool must provide a repair (automated repair, semi-automated repair or manual repair) for correcting violations of each requirement of WCAG.
3.4 Do not automatically generate equivalent alternatives or reuse previously authored alternatives without author confirmation, except when the function is known with certainty. [Priority 2]

Rationale: Improperly generated alternatives can create accessibility problems and interfere with accessibility checking.

Techniques: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 3.4, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 3.4

Success Criteria:

  1. When the author inserts an unrecognized non-text object, the tool must not insert an automatically generated text equivalent (e.g. label generated from the file name).
  2. When the author inserts a non-text object for which the tool has a previously authored equivalent (i.e. created by the author, tool designer, pre-authored content developer, etc.), but the function of the object is not known with certainty, the tool must prompt the author to confirm insertion of the equivalent. However, where the function of the non-text object is known with certainty (e.g. "home button" on a navigation bar, etc.), the tool may automatically insert the equivalent.
3.5 Provide functionality for managing, editing, and reusing alternative equivalents. [Priority 3]

Rationale: Simplifying the initial production and later reuse of alternative equivalents will encourage authors to use them more frequently. In addition, such an alternative equivalent management system will facilitate meeting the requirements of Checkpoint 3.4.

Techniques: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 3.5, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 3.5

Success Criteria:

  1. When objects, for which alternative equivalents have been previously provided, are inserted, the tool must always offer those alternative equivalents for reuse or modification.
3.6 Provide the author with a summary of the document's accessibility status. [Priority 3]

Rationale: This summary will help the author to improve the accessibility status of their work, keep track of problems and monitor progress.

Techniques: Techniques for checkpoint 3.6, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 3.6.

Success Criteria:

  1. The tool must provide the author with an option to view a listing of all current accessibility problems.
3.7 Document all features of the tool that promote the production of accessible content. [Priority 2]

Rationale: Without documentation of the features that promote accessibility (e.g. prompts for alternates, code validators, accessibility checkers, etc.) authors may not find or use them.

Techniques: Techniques for checkpoint 3.7, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 3.7.

Success Criteria:

  1. All features that play a role in creating accessible content must be documented in the help mechanism.
3.8 Ensure that all documentation demonstrates authoring practices and workflow processes that result in accessible content. [Priority 2]
Rationale: If accessible authoring is integrated into instruction and guidance offered by the tool (e.g. documentation, help, tutorials, examples, and workflow processes), authors are more likely to follow accessible authoring as a common practice. This reinforces the message of accessibility that is being promoted and facilitates a better understanding of the reasoning behind its use and its consequences. Authors are also more likely to use features that promote accessibility if they understand when and how to use them.

Techniques: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 3.8, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 3.8

Success Criteria:

  1. All examples of markup code and views of the user authoring interface (dialog screenshots, etc.) must demonstrate the requirements of WCAG, regardless of whether the examples are intended to demonstrate accessibility authoring practices.
  2. All descriptions of authoring processes must integrate the steps needed to create accessible content.

GUIDELINE 4: Promote and integrate accessibility solutions

This guideline requires that authoring tools must promote accessible authoring practices within the tool as well as smoothly integrate any functions added to meet the other requirements in this document. The checkpoint requirements for this section include ensuring the priority for accessible means of completing an authoring tasks (Checkpoint 4.1), ensuring the availibility of accessibility-related functions (Checkpoint 4.2), and ensuring that accessibility-related functions fit into the appearance and interactive style of the tool (Checkpoint 4.4).

4.2 Ensure that the most accessible option for an authoring task is given priority. [Priority 2]

Rationale: Authors are most likely to use the first and easiest options.

Techniques: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 4.2, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 4.2

Success Criteria:

  1. When an authoring action has several markup implementations (e.g. @@the color of text can be changed with presentation markup or style sheets@@), those markup implementation(s) that meet the requirements of WCAG must have equal or higher prominence than those markup implementations that do not meet the WCAG requirements:
4.3 Ensure that accessibility prompting, checking, repair functions and documentation are always clearly available to the author [Priority 2]

Rationale: If the features that support accessible authoring are difficult to find and activate, they are less likely to be used. Ideally, these features should be turned on by default.

Techniques: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 4.1, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 4.1

Success Criteria:

  1. Continuously active processes (e.g. a checker that underlines errors as they occur, a checker that runs at each save, a checker that runs every 10 minutes, etc.) that implement functions required by checkpoints 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 and 3.7 must be enabled by default.
  2. If the author chooses to disable these continuously active processes, then the tool must inform the author of the consequences of their choice.
  3. @@The accessibility prompting, checking, repair and documentation must have at least the same prominence as prompting, checkingm repair and documentation for other mandatory information in the tool (e.g. prompting for file names during saves or checking for and repairing spelling or syntax errors).@@
4.X Ensure that accessibility prompting, checking, repair and documentation functions are configurable [Priority 2] NEW

Rationale: A configurable tool is more likely to be adaptable to the work habits of more authors.

Techniques: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 4.X, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 4.X

Success Criteria:

  1. The configurability of functions related to accessibility prompting, checking, repair, and documentation must be equivalent to that of comparable functions in terms of number of options under author control and the degree to which each option can be controlled.
4.1. Ensure that accessible authoring practices are integrated into the workflow of Web Content development. [Priority 2]

Rationale: Accessible design as an afterthought or separate process is much more onerous and therefore costly than when accessibility is considered from the start. If the authoring tool supports a workflow in which the author considers accessibility before and/or during the authoring process it is more likely that accessible authoring practices will become a common practice. This is analagous to internationalization, which is much easier when it is considered from the beginning rather than handled last.

Techniques: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 4.1, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 4.1

Success Criteria:

  1. Any mechanism that guides the author in sequencing authoring actions (e.g. design aids, wizards,@@ templates) must integrate prompting, checking, repair functions and documentation.
4.4 Ensure that accessibility prompting, checking, repair functions and documentation are naturally integrated into the appearance and interactive style of the tool. [Priority 3]

Rationale: Most authors are reluctant to use features that depart from the conventions of a tool.

Techniques: Implementation Techniques for Checkpoint 4.3, Evaluation Techniques for Checkpoint 4.3

Success Criteria:

  1. The user authoring interface for accessibility prompting, checking, repair and documentation must be @@equivalent@@ to the user authoring interface for comparable for comparable functions in terms the following characteristics:
    • design (measured by design metaphors, artistic sophistication, sizes, fonts, colors)
    • operation (measured by degree of automation, number of actions for activation)
    • configurability (measured by number and types of features)
    • comprehensiveness (measured by breadth and depth of functionality coverage


3. Glossary of Terms and Definition

Accessibility (Also: Accessible)
Within these guidelines, the concept of accessibility has two senses:
Accessibility Information
Any information that is necessary for an accessible authoring practice including, but is not limited to, equivalent alternative information.
Accessibility Problem (Authoring Tool Interface)
Authoring tool interface features that fail to meet the success criteria of the checkpoints of Guideline 1.
Accessibility Problem (Web Content)
Web content that fails to meet the requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) [WCAG-REFS].
Accessible Authoring Practice
Web content modifications made by the author or the tool that increase the likelihood of producing accessible Web content.
Accessible Authoring Tool Interface
Authoring tool interfaces with no authoring tool interface accessibility problems.
Accessible Web Content
Web content with no Web content accessibility problems.
An "alert" draws the author's attention to an event or situation. It may require a response from the author.
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.
For the purposes of this document, an author is a user of an authoring tool. This may include content authors, designers, programmers, publishers, testers, etc.
Authored "by hand"
When the author specifies the precise text string, as by typing into a text editor.
Authoring Tool
See section 1.1: Definition of Authoring Tool.
Authoring Tool Interface
The display and control mechanism available to an author to communicate with and operate the authoring tool software.
"Captions" are essential equivalent alternatives 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 convert in one format to another format (such as a markup language).
The process by which web content is evaluated for accessibility problems. This applies to evaluations performed automatically or with assistance from the author. The evaluation may be performed at specific times or be performed on an continuous basis as Web content is modified. For more information on checking, see checkpoint 3.2.
A "document" is a series of elements that are defined by a markup language (e.g., HTML 4 or an XML application).
Documentation: Documentation refers to information that supports the use of an authoring tool. This information may be found electronically or otherwise and includes manuals, installation instructions, help mechanisms, sample workflows and tutorials, etc..
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.
Equivalent Alternative
Content is "equivalent" to other content when both fulfill essentially the same function or purpose upon presentation to the user content consumer. Equivalent alternatives play an important role in accessible authoring practices since certain types of content may not be accessible to all user authoring content consumers (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-REFS].
To "inform" is to make the author aware of an event or situation through alert, prompt, sound, flash, or other means.
Information Icon
Any graphic that an author can select to receive additional information.
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.
The "prominence" of a control in the user authoring interface is a heuristic measure of the degree to which users take notice of the control when operating the system. In these guidelines, "prominence" refers to visual as well as keyboard-driven navigation. Some of the factors that contribute to the prominence of a control include:
  • Control Size: Larger controls or controls surrounded by more whitespace may appear to be conferred higher importance.
  • Control Order: Without any other forms of organization, most people will read interface items in a "localized" reading order (i.e. left to right and top to bottom; right to left and top to bottom, etc.). The higher visibility of items that occur early in the reading order confers higher apparent importance.
  • Control Grouping: Grouping input fields (e.g. in a vertical list, etc.) can change the reading order and the related judgments of importance.
  • Advanced Options: When the properties are explicitly or implicitly grouped into sets of basic and advanced properties, the basic properties may gain apparent importance.
  • Highlighting: Controls may be distinguished from others using icons, color, styling, 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 (see Checkpoint 4.4). (An additional consideration is that in order to meet ATAG Checkpoint 1.1, the highlighting must be implemented so that it is available through the appropriate API (MSAA, Java Accessibility API, GNOME accessibility, etc.), allowing an author with disabilities to access the highlighting through assistive devices).
The degree to which user interface controls are noticed by the user. These include:
  • Location (measured by where in the interface a control appears, e.g. menus, toolbars, etc.)
  • Actions to activate (measured by the number user actions required)
  • Emphasis (measured as size, color, volume, etc.)
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 guideline 3 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 avoid 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.
The process by which Web content is modified to solve accessibility problems. This applies to modifications performed automatically or with assistance from the author. For more information on repairing, see checkpoint 3.3.
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.
Informative suggestions and examples for ways in which the success criteria of a checkpoint might be satisfied.
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.
Typical Author
A typical author is a hypothetical individual who possesses levels of authoring knowledge, tool proficiency, and experience with accessibility issues that fall at the mean of the levels measured from a large random sample of actual users of an authoring tool.
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.
WCAG-Capable Format
A format is WCAG-capable when a public WCAG techniques document explains how to meet each applicable WCAG checkpoint. Non-text formats may still be WCAG-capable if they support equivalent alternatives. Note that the format's WCAG techniques document must contain techniques that fully satisfy a given conformance level of WCAG in order to claim that level of eligibility for ATAG 2.0.
The customary sequence of steps or tasks that are followed to produce a deliverable.

4. Acknowledgments

Many thanks to the following people who have contributed to the AUWG through review and comment: Giorgio Brajnik, Daniel Dardailler, Katie Haritos-Shea, Kip Harris, Phill Jenkins, Len Kasday, Marjolein Katsma, William Loughborough, Liddy Nevile, 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 and Wombat.

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.
"Techniques for Authoring Tool Accessibility 2.0", J. Treviranus, J. Richards, C. McCathieNevile and M. May, editors. The latest version is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/ATAG20-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.
ISO/TS 16071:2002(E) - Ergonomics of human-system interaction - Guidance on accessibility for human-computer interfaces. ISO's Web site is http://www.iso.ch.
"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/1999/07/REC-MathML-19990707. The latest version of MathML 1.0 is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-MathML.
"How People With Disabilities Use the Web," J. Brewer, editor, 4 January 2001. The latest version of How People with Disabilities Use the Web is available at http://www.w3.org/WAI/EO/Drafts/PWD-Use-Web/.
"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.
ATAG 2.0 References to WCAG, J. Treviranus, J. Richards, and M. May, editors.
" Implementation Techniques for Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines 'Wombat'," Jutta Treviranus, Charles McCathieNevile, Jan Richards, Matt May. Note: ATAG20 supersedes this document. .
" Implementation Techniques for Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines 2.0," 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