Techniques for Authoring Tool Accessibility

W3C Working Draft 21 April 2000

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


This document provides information to authoring tool developers who wish to satisfy the checkpoints of "Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" [ATAG10]. It includes suggested techniques, sample strategies in deployed tools, and references to other accessibility resources (such as platform-specific software accessibility guidelines) that provide additional information on how a tool may satisfy each checkpoint.

This document is part of a series of accessibility documents published by the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (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 document is a draft update to a W3C Note, published as an informative appendix to "Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0". The Working Group expects to update this document in response to queries raised by implementors of the Guidelines, for example, to cover new technologies. Suggestions for additional techniques are welcome.

This document is published for review and public comment from the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AUWG), the WAI Interest Group, and other interested parties, prior to publication as a public Working Draft. This document is expected to be superseded by a lter Working Draft at the beginning of May 2000. It has not been endorsed by the Working Group, the W3C or any of the W3C Membership.

For further information about Working Group decisions, please consult the minutes of AUWG Meetings.

This document has been produced by the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AUWG) as part of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). The goals of the Working Group are discussed in the AUWG charter.

Please send general comments about this document to the public mailing list: w3c-wai-au@w3.org (public archives).

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

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

The "Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" [ATAG10] has two goals: to assist developers in designing authoring tools that produce accessible Web content and to assist developers in creating an accessible authoring interface. The present "Techniques Document" suggests to developers some strategies for meeting those goals.

Implementation of techniques for some of these guidelines requires familiarity with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 [WCAG10]. In addition, readers are strongly encouraged to become familiar with the "Techniques for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" [WCAG10-TECHS] and "Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" [UAAG10-TECHS].

Note: The techniques in this document are merely suggestions; they are not required for conformance to "Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0". These techniques are not necessarily the only way of satisfying the checkpoint, nor are they necessarily a definitive set of requirements for satisfying a checkpoint.

1.1 How the Techniques are organized

This document has the same structure as the "Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" [ATAG10]: seven guidelines, each of which includes at least one checkpoint. Information about checkpoint priorities is found in the "Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0".

Unlike "Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0", the current document includes a list of techniques after each checkpoint. Techniques may be suggested strategies, references to other accessibility resources (noted "Reference"), or examples of how deployed tools satisfy the checkpoint (noted "Sample").

For some guidelines there are techniques or information that are relevant to the entire guideline. These are provided at the end of the section for the relevant guideline.

Some of the sample techniques describe how Amaya satisfies the checkpoints. Amaya [AMAYA] is both an HTML authoring tool and a browser. Amaya's default editing view is WYSIWYG-style. The Amaya techniques are also available as a single "sample implementation" document [AMAYA-SAMPLE].

2 Guidelines

Guideline 1. Support accessible authoring practices.

If the tool automatically generates markup, many authors will be unaware of the accessibility status of the final content unless they expend extra effort to review it and make appropriate corrections by hand. Since many authors are unfamiliar with accessibility, authoring tools are responsible for automatically generating accessible markup, and where appropriate, for guiding the author in producing accessible content.

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


1.1 Ensure that the author can produce accessible content in the markup language(s) supported by the tool. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 1.1)
1.2 Ensure that the tool preserves all accessibility information during authoring, transformations, and conversions. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 1.2)
1.3 Ensure that when the tool automatically generates markup it conforms to the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10]. [Relative Priority] (Checkpoint 1.3)
1.4 Ensure that templates provided by the tool conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10]. [Relative Priority] (Checkpoint 1.4)

Guideline 2. Generate standard markup.

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

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


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

Guideline 3. Support the creation of accessible content.

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


3.1 Prompt the author to provide equivalent alternative information (e.g., captions, auditory descriptions, and collated text transcripts for video). [Relative Priority] (Checkpoint 3.1)
Note: Some checkpoints in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10] may not apply.
3.2 Help the author create structured content and separate information from its presentation. [Relative Priority] (Checkpoint 3.2)
Note: Some checkpoints in Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10] may not apply.
3.3 Ensure that prepackaged content conforms to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10]. [Relative Priority] (Checkpoint 3.3)
For example, include captions, an auditory description, and a collated text transcript with prepackaged movies. Refer also to checkpoint 3.4.
3.4 Do not automatically generate equivalent alternatives. Do not reuse previously authored alternatives without author confirmation, except when the function is known with certainty. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 3.4)
For example, prompt the author for a text equivalent of an image. If the author has already provided a text equivalent for the same image used in another document, offer to reuse that text and prompt the author for confirmation. If the tool automatically generates a "Search" icon, it would be appropriate to automatically reuse the previously authored text equivalent for that icon. Refer also to checkpoint 3.3 and checkpoint 3.5.

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

3.5 Provide functionality for managing, editing, and reusing alternative equivalents for multimedia objects. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint 3.5)
Note: These alternative equivalents may be packaged with the tool, written by the author, retrieved from the Web, etc.

Further techniques for this guideline are given in the appendix Techniques for User Prompting

Guideline 4. Provide ways of checking and correcting inaccessible content.

Many authoring tools allow authors to create documents with little or no knowledge about the underlying markup. To ensure accessibility, authoring tools must be designed so that they can (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 (refer to guideline 5). For example, some authors may prefer to be alerted to accessibility problems when they occur, whereas others may prefer to perform a check at the end of an editing session. This is analogous to programming environments that allow users to decide whether to check for correct code during editing or at compilation.

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


4.1 Check for and inform the author of accessibility problems. [Relative Priority] (Checkpoint 4.1)
Note: Accessibility problems should be detected automatically where possible. Where this is not possible, the tool may need to prompt the author to make decisions or to manually check for certain types of problems.
4.2 Assist authors in correcting accessibility problems. [Relative Priority] (Checkpoint 4.2)
At a minimum, provide context-sensitive help with the accessibility checking required by checkpoint 4.1
4.3 Allow the author to preserve markup not recognized by the tool. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 4.3)
Note: The author may have included or imported markup that enhances accessibility but is not recognized by the tool.
4.4 Provide the author with a summary of the document's accessibility status. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint 4.4)
4.5 Allow the author to transform presentation markup that is misused to convey structure into structural markup, and to transform presentation markup used for style into style sheets. [Priority 3] (Checkpoint 4.5)

Further techniques for this guideline are given in the appendix Techniques for User Prompting

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

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


5.1 Ensure that functionality related to accessible authoring practices is naturally integrated into the overall look and feel of the tool. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 5.1)
5.2 Ensure that accessible authoring practices supporting Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10] Priority 1 checkpoints are among the most obvious and easily initiated by the author. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 5.2)

Guideline 6. Promote 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.


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

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

The authoring tool is a software program with standard user interface elements and as such must be designed according to relevant user interface accessibility guidelines. 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, regardless of disability. Authors who use screen readers, refreshable braille displays, or screen magnifiers can make limited use (if at all) of graphical artifacts that communicate the structure of the document and act as signposts when traversing it. Authors who cannot use a mouse (e.g., people with physical disabilities or who are blind) must use the slow and tiring process of moving one step at a time through the document to access the desired content, unless more efficient navigation methods are available. Authoring tools should therefore provide an editing view that conveys a sense of the overall structure and allows structured navigation.

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


7.1 Use all applicable operating system and accessibility standards and conventions (Priority 1 for standards and conventions that are essential to accessibility; Priority 2 for those that are important to accessibility; Priority 3 for those that are beneficial to accessibility). (Checkpoint 7.1)
The techniques for this checkpoint include references to checklists and guidelines for a number of platforms and to general guidelines for accessible applications.
7.2 Allow the author to change the presentation within editing views without affecting the document markup. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 7.2)
This allows the author to edit the document according to personal requirements, without changing the way the document is rendered when published.
7.3 Allow the author to edit all properties of each element and object in an accessible fashion. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 7.3)
7.4 Ensure that the editing view allows navigation via the structure of the document in an accessible fashion. [Priority 1] (Checkpoint 7.4)
7.5 Enable editing of the structure of the document in an accessible fashion. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 7.5)
7.6 Allow the author to search within editing views. [Priority 2] (Checkpoint 7.6)

3 Techniques for User Prompting

These guidelines often refer to the practice of prompting and to a lesser extent alerting. The following guidelines and selected checkpoints make explicit use of them:

The importance of these concepts in the document and a perceived ambiguity of their meanings has been identified as a source of confusion.  This appendix will attempt to clarify the issue.

3.1 What does prompting mean?

The word prompting is used in the document to denote all user interface methods by which the author is given an opportunity to add accessible content.  The following are responses to concerns raised by developers.

Note: As a general rule, the implementation of prompting should be governed by checkpoint 5.1 (Ensure that functionality related to accessible authoring practices is naturally integrated into the overall look and feel of the tool. [Priority 2])

3.2 User configurable prompting schedule

A user configurable schedule allows individual authors to determine, to some extent, how and when they will be prompted about accessibility issues.  For example, authors should have control over the stringency of the checks (i.e. WCAG level A, double-A or triple-A) and the scheduling of prompting (i.e. as problems occur or at the completion of authoring). Of course, the extent of this configurability should be determined by developers on an individual basis. Some tool developers may decide to restrict authors to several global settings while others might allow authors to make fine grained distinctions, such as different scheduling for different types of problems.

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 5 Integrate accessibility solutions into the overall "look and feel". . 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. (from the introduction to guideline 4)

3.2.1 Example:

In Microsoft Word 2000, spelling errors can be flagged and corrected in several ways depending on the preferences that the author has set on the spelling property card. Below is a screen shot of this card:

Screenshot of Word2000 spelling options include checking as you type, suggestions, and what to ignore D

3.3 Types of Prompting

All authoring tools will have ways of conveying information to users and collecting information in return.  These methods vary according to factors such as the design of the tool and the user interface conventions for its platform. The following is relatively generic overview of how these methods can be used for accessibility prompting. Keep in mind that these categories may overlap. For example, an intrusive alert may contain a prompt edit field.

3.3.1 Prompts

Prompts are basically requests for information. On most GUI platforms, prompts take the form of dialog boxes that request information from the user. The author answers the requests by setting modifying control values (i.e. typing text in a textbox or selecting a checkbox). Prompts are relatively unintrusive because they are often displayed at the user's request.  For example, when the user has chosen to save a document and the application prompts for the user to enter a name. However, once the author has dismissed a prompt, its message is unavailable unless the user requests it again.

For the purposes of the Guidelines, prompts can be used to encourage authors to provide information required for accessibility. For example, in the case of HTML, a prominently displayed alt-text entry field in an image insertion dialog, would constitute a prompt.

Field Priority:

In the Guidelines, the interface priority of controls related to accessibility is governed by checkpoint 5.2 (Ensure that accessible authoring practices supporting Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10] Priority 1 checkpoints are among the most obvious and easily initiated by the author.[Priority 2]). This checkpoint does not require that accessibility concerns obscure the other editing tasks.  The checkpoint merely emphasizes that these controls should be allotted screen presence that is appropriate for their importance. For example, in MacroMedia's Dreamweaver 2 HTML authoring tool, a property toolbar is displayed with fields that are appropriate to the currently selected element. In cases such as the image element, the author can toggle the toolbar between a limited and extended set of properties. Importantly, in terms of checkpoint 5.2, the alt attribute property is afforded sufficient field priority to appear on the limited version of the toolbar.

Screenshot of Dream Weaver property dialog for image including alt-text field D


Conformance with checkpoint 5.2 may be reinforced by visually highlighting accessibility features with colour, icons, underlining, etc.  For example, in Allaire's HomeSite authoring tool, attention is drawn more explicitly to an accessibility-related prompt fields. In this case, the Homesite tag editor dialog contains symbols, colour changes and explanatory text highlight alt-text as required for HTML 4.0 and necessary for accessibility.

Screenshot of Homesite image tag editor includes red asterix to explantory note beside alt-text field D

Related Prompts:

Sometimes a number of accessible editing tasks are required for a single element. Instead of dispersing these prompts over multiple dialog boxes, it may be more effective to draw them together into one group of controls. In the following example, also from Allaire HomeSite, the multiple accessibility requirements of the HTML input form control (i.e. Access Key, Tab Index, Title and Label Text) are prompted for from within the same dialog.

Screenshot of HomeSite tag editor for input element D

Sequential Prompts:

In some cases, authors may benefit from the sequential presentation of a number of prompts. This technique usually takes the form of a wizard or a checker. In the case of a wizard, relatively complex interactions are broken down into a number of simple steps so that later steps can take into account information provided by the user in earlier steps. A checker is a special case of a wizard in which the number of detected errors determines the number of steps.

The first example is a spelling and grammar checker from Microsoft Word 2000. Notice how all the problems are displayed in a standard way: type of problem (i.e. "not in dictionary"), the problem instance (i.e. "There are a few spelling mistakes") and suggested fixes (i.e. a list of suggested correct words). The user also has a number of correcting options, some of which can store responses to affect how the same situation is handled later.

Screenshot of Word2000 spelling and grammar checker D

In an accessibility checker, the same is true, however the dialog template has to be somewhat more flexible since the problems can range from a missing text string for a multimedia object to missing structural information for a table to improper use of colour. In the following example, from A-Prompt, the author is prompted to add alternate text for an image as part (8 of 20) of a correction run. Notice that, like the spell checker, the prompt includes a statement of the problem (i.e. "missing alternate text for an image"), the problem instance (i.e. earthrise.gif), and suggested fixes (i.e. a suggestion from the alt-text registry, "An earth-rise as seen from the surface of the moon"). In addition, the dialog also has some instructive text to aid the author in writing text if necessary.

Screenshot of the A-prompt missing alt text dialog D

3.4 Alerts:

Alerts warn the author that there are problems that need to be addressed. The art of attracting the author's attention is a tricky issue. The way authors are alerted, prompted, or warned can influence their view of the tool and even their opinion of accessible authoring. 5 Integrate accessibility solutions into the overall "look and feel". .

Intrusive Alerts

Intrusive alerts are informative messages that interrupt the editing process for the author. For example, intrusive alerts are often presented when an author's action could cause a loss of data. Intrusive alerts allow problems to be brought to the author's attention immediately. However, authors may resent the constant delays and forced actions. Many people prefer to finish expressing an idea before returning to edit its format. The following screenshot shows an example of an intrusive alert that might be displayed if the author fails to enter Alt-text at an image insertion prompt.

Screenshot of dialog saying you must enter text to describe this image D

When the author dismisses an intrusive alert, the program may or may not display a prompt allowing the author make the appropriate action.

Note: While intrusive alerts are the least user-friendly form of prompting, there are situations in which the editing process is complete and publishing to the Web appears imminent. This may be the case when a document composed in a proprietary (non-Web format) is saved out into Web format.  In these cases, unintrusive alerts are not an option since there is simply no editing process left. An alternative to a number of alerts might be a number of sequential prompts (i.e. wizard) that could take the user through a process by which the inaccessible proprietary document is converted into an accessible Web document.

Unintrusive Alerts

Unintrusive alerts are interface objects such as icons, underlines, and gentle sounds that can be presented to the author without requiring immediate action. For example, in some word processors misspelled text is highlighted in the text, without forcing the author to make the correction immediately. These alerts allow authors to continue editing with the knowledge that problems will be easy to identify at a later time. However, authors may choose to ignore the alerts altogether.  As an example, Microsoft Word 2000 includes the option to underline spelling errors in red and grammatical errors in green. (Note that a user must be able to change this default presentation - users who are red-green colorblind, for example, will not be able to perceive the information being conveyed by this default). When the user right-clicks on the highlighted text, they are presented with several correction options.

Screenshot of Word2000 showing the red and green underlines for spelling and grammar errors D

Another Microsoft product, FrontPage 2000, uses unintrusive alerts in its HTML editing environment to indicate syntax errors.  As the author types, the syntax is automatically checked.  The author is allowed to make syntax errors, but the colour of the text signals that an error has been made.

Screenshot of Frontpage2000 showing the red font used to indicate syntax errors D

In the context of the Authoring Tool guidelines, such unintrusive alert techniques could be used to indicate which parts of a document or site contain accessibility problems. This will inform the author about the type and number of errors without interrupting their editing process.

4 Glossary of Terms and Definitions

Accessibility (Also: Accessible)
Within these guidelines, "accessible Web content" and "accessible authoring tool" mean that the content and tool can be used by people regardless of disability.
To understand the accessibility issues relevant to authoring tool design, consider that many 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 Awareness
An "accessibility-aware" application is one that has been designed to account for authors' differing needs, abilities, and technologies. In the case of authoring tools, this means that (1) care has been taken to ensure that the content produced by user-authors is accessible and (2) that the user interface has been designed to be usable with a variety of display and control technologies.
Accessibility Information
"Accessibility information" is content, including information and markup, that is used to improve the accessibility of a document. Accessibility information includes, but is not limited to, equivalent alternative information.
Accessibility Problem (Also: Inaccessible Markup)
Inaccessible Web content or authoring tools cannot be used by some people with disabilities. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10] 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. An alert warns the author that there are problems that need to be addressed. Attracting the author's attention artfully can be challenging, since author perceptions of alerts, prompts, and warnings can influence opinions of the tool and even of accessible authoring.
An Unintrusive Alert is an alert such as an icon, underlining, or gentle sound that can be presented to the author without necessitating immediate action. For example, in some word processors misspelled text is highlighted without forcing the author to make immediate corrections. These alerts allow authors to continue editing with the knowledge that problems will be easy to identify at a later time. However, authors may become annoyed at the extra formatting or may choose to ignore the alerts altogether.
An Interruptive Alert is an informative message that interrupts the editing process for the author. For example, interruptive alerts are often presented when an author's action could cause a loss of data. Interruptive alerts allow problems to be brought to the author's attention immediately. However, authors may resent the constant delays and forced actions. Many people prefer to finish expressing an idea before returning to edit its format.
Alternative Information (Also: 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 1.0 [WCAG10].
Text equivalents for still images can be short ("Site Map Link") or long (e.g., "Figure 4 shows that the population of bacteria doubled approximately every twenty hours over the first one hundred hours, increasing from about 1000 per milliliter to about 32,000 per milliliter."). Text equivalents for audio clips are called "text transcripts". Captions are essential text equivalents for movie audio. Another essential text equivalent for a movie is a "collated text transcript." An essential non-text equivalent for movies is "auditory description" of the key graphical elements of a presentation.
This document uses the term "attribute" as used in SGML and XML ([XML]): Element types may be defined as having any number of attributes. Some attributes are integral to the accessibility of content (e.g., the "alt", "title", and "longdesc" attributes in HTML).
In the following example, the attributes of the beverage element type are "flavour", which has the value "lots", and "colour", which has the value "red":
<beverage flavour="lots" colour="red">my favourite</beverage>
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:
Automated Markup Insertion Function
"Automated markup insertion functions" are the features of an authoring tool that allow the author to produce markup without directly typing it. This includes a wide range of tools from simple markup insertion aids (such as a bold button on a toolbar) to markup managers (such as table makers that include powerful tools such as "split cells" that can make multiple changes) to high level site building wizards that produce almost complete documents on the basis of a series of author preferences.
"Captions" are essential text equivalents for movie audio. Captions consist of 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.
Current User Selection
When several views co-exist, each may have a selection, but only one is active, called the "current user selection." User selections may be rendered specially (e.g., graphically highlighted).
Description Link (D-link)
A "description link", or D-Link, is an author-supplied link to additional information about a piece of content that might otherwise be difficult to access (image, applet, video, etc.).
A "document" is a series of elements that are defined by a markup language (e.g., HTML 4 or an XML application).
Editing an element
"Editing an element" involves making changes to one or more of an element's attributes or properties. This applies to all editing, including, but not limited to, direct coding in a text editing mode, making changes to a property dialog or direct User Interface manipulation.
Editing View
An "editing view" is a view provided by the authoring tool that allows editing.
An "element" is any identifiable object within a document, for example, a character, word, image, paragraph or spreadsheet cell. In [HTML4] and [XML], an element refers to a pair of tags and their content, or an "empty" tag - one that requires no closing tag or content.
The "focus" designates the active element (e.g., link, form control, element with associated scripts, etc.) in a view that will react when the user next interacts with the document.
Generation Tool
A "generation tool" is a program or script that produces automatic markup "on the fly" by following a template or set of rules. The generation may be performed on either the server or client side.
Image Editor
An image editor is a graphics program that provides a variety of options for altering images of different formats.
To "inform" is to make the author aware of an event or situation through alert, prompt, sound, flash, or other means.
Inserting an element
"Inserting an element" involves placing that element's markup within the markup of the file. This applies to all insertions, including, but not limited to, direct coding in a text editing mode, choosing an automated insertion from a pull-down menu or tool bar button, "drag-and-drop" style insertions, or "paste" operations.
Markup Language
Authors encode information using a "markup language" such as HTML [HTML4], SVG [SVG], or MathML [MATHML].
Multimedia Authoring Tool
A "multimedia authoring tool" is software that facilitates integration of diverse media elements into an comprehensive presentation format. Multimedia includes video, audio, images, animations, simulations, and other interactive components.
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.
A "prompt" is a request for author input, either information or a decision. A prompt requires author response. For example, a text equivalent entry field prominently displayed in an image insertion dialog would constitute a prompt. Prompts can be used to encourage authors to provide information needed to make content accessible (such as alternative text equivalents).
A "property" is a piece of information about an element, for example structural information (e.g., it is item number 7 in a list, or plain text) or presentation information (e.g., that it is marked as bold, its font size is 14). In XML and HTML, properties of an element include the 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.
Publishing Tool
A "publishing tool" is software that allows content to be uploaded in an integrated fashion. Sometimes these tools makes changes such as local hyper-reference modifications. Although these tools sometimes stand alone, they may also be integrated into site management tools.
Rendered Content
The "rendered content" of an element is that which the element actually causes to be rendered by the user agent. This may differ from the element's structural content. For example, some elements cause external data to be rendered (e.g., the IMG element in [HTML4]), and in some cases, browsers may render the value of an attribute (e.g., "alt", "title") in place of the element's content.
Rendered View, Preview
A "rendered view" simulates for the author how a user will interact with the content being edited once published.
A "selection" is a set of elements identified for a particular operation. The user selection identifies a set of elements for certain types of user interaction (e.g., cut, copy, and paste operations). The user selection may be established by the user (e.g., by a pointing device or the keyboard) or via an accessibility Application Programmatic Interface (API). A view may have several selections, but only one user selection.
Site Management Tool
A "site management tool" provides an overview of an entire Web site indicating hierarchical structure. It will facilitate management through functions that may include automatic index creation, automatic link updating, and broken link checking.
Structural Markup
"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.
User-Configurable Schedule
A "user-configurable schedule" allows the user to determine the type of prompts and alerts that are used, including when they are presented. For example, a user may wish to include multiple images without being prompted for alternative information, and then provide the alternative information in a batch process, or may wish to be reminded each time they add an image. If the prompting is done on a user-configurable schedule they will be able to make that decision themselves. This technique allows a tool to suit the needs a wide range of authors.
Video Editor
A "video editor" is software for manipulating video images. Video editing includes cutting segments (trimming), re-sequencing clips, and adding transitions and other special effects.
Authoring tools may render the same content in a variety of ways; each rendering is called a "view." Some authoring tools will have several different types of view, and some allow views of several documents at once. For instance, one view may show raw markup, a second may show a structured tree, a third may show markup with rendered objects while a final view shows an example of how the document may appear if it were to be rendered by a particular browser. A typical way to distinguish views in a graphic environment is to place each in a separate window.

5 Acknowledgments

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

6 References

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

"The Three-tions of Accessibility-Aware HTML Authoring Tools," J. Richards.
Amaya, developed at W3C, is both an authoring tool and browser with a WYSIWYG-style user interface. Amaya serves as a testbed for W3C specifications. Source code, binaries, and further information are available at http://www.w3.org/Amaya/. The techniques in this document are based on Amaya version 2.4.
"Images and Client-side Image Maps," Amaya's Help page for images and image maps.
"Amaya - Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 sample implementation" Describes how Amaya, W3C's WYSIWYG browser/authoring tool, satisfies the guidelines.
"Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines," Apple Computer Inc.
The A-prompt tool allows authors to check many accessibility features in HTML pages, and incorporates an "Alternative Information Management Mechanism" (AIMM)) to manage equivalent alternative information for known resources. The tool is built in such a way that the functions can be incorporated into an authoring tool. A-prompt tool is a freely available example tool developed by the Adaptive Technology Resource Center at the University of Toronto, and the TRACE center at the University of Wisconsin. The source code for the tool is also available at http://aprompt.snow.utoronto.ca.
"Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0," J. Treviranus, C. McCathieNevile, I. Jacobs, and J. Richards, eds. The latest version is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/ATAG10.
"Techniques For Evaluation And Implementation Of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines," C. Ridpath.
"CSS, level 1 Recommendation," B. Bos and H. Wium Lie, eds., 17 December 1996, revised 11 January 1999. This CSS1 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/REC-CSS1-19990111. The latest version of CSS1 is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-CSS1. Note: CSS1 has been superseded by CSS2. Tools should implement the CSS2 cascade.
"CSS, level 2 Recommendation," B. Bos, H. Wium Lie, C. Lilley, and I. Jacobs, eds., 12 May 1998. This CSS2 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/REC-CSS2-19980512. The latest version of CSS2 is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-CSS2.
"Accessibility Features of CSS," I. Jacobs and J. Brewer, eds., 4 August 1999. This W3C Note is http://www.w3.org/1999/08/NOTE-CSS-access-19990804. The latest version of Accessibility Features of CSS is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS-access.
"Requirements for Accessible Software Design," US Department of Education, version 1.1 March 6, 1997.
" EITACC Desktop Software standards," Electronic Information Technology Access Advisory (EITACC) Committee.
The W3C HTML Validation Service validates HTML and XHTML markup.
"HTML 4.01 Recommendation," D. Raggett, A. Le Hors, and I. Jacobs, eds., 24 December 1999. This HTML 4.01 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/REC-html401-19991224. The latest version of HTML 4 is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/html4.
"WAI Resources: HTML 4.0 Accessibility Improvements," I. Jacobs, J. Brewer, and D. Dardailler, eds. This document describes accessibility features in HTML 4.0.
"Software Accessibility," IBM Special Needs Systems.
"The Inter-Client communication conventions manual." A protocol for communication between clients in the X Window system.
"An ICE Rendezvous Mechanism for X Window System Clients," W. Walker. A description of how to use the ICE and RAP protocols for X Window clients.
"IBM Guidelines for Writing Accessible Applications Using 100% Pure Java," R. Schwerdtfeger, IBM Special Needs Systems.
"Java Accessibility Guidelines and Checklist," IBM Special Needs Systems.
"The Java Tutorial. Trail: Creating a GUI with JFC/Swing." An online tutorial that describes how to use the Swing Java Foundation Class to build an accessible User Interface.
"Mathematical Markup Language," P. Ion and R. Miner, eds., 7 April 1998, revised 7 July 1999. This MathML 1.0 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/REC-MathML-19990707. The latest version of MathML 1.0 is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-MathML.
"Accessibility for Applications Designers," Microsoft Corporation.
"The Microsoft Windows Guidelines for Accessible Software Design." Warning! This is a "self-extracting archive", an application that will probably only run on MS-Windows systems.
"Information for Developers About Microsoft Active Accessibility," Microsoft Corporation.
"Lotus Notes Accessibility Guidelines," IBM Special Needs Systems.
"Resource Description Framework (RDF) Model and Syntax Specification," O. Lassila, R. Swick, eds. The 22 February 1999 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/REC-rdf-syntax-19990222. The latest version of RDF 1.0 is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-rdf-syntax.
"Ruby Annotation," M. Sawicki, M. Suignard, M. Ishikawa, and M. Dürst, eds. The 17 December 1999 Working Draft is http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WD-ruby-19991217. The latest version is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/ruby.
"A Comparison of Schemas for Dublin Core-based Video Metadata Representation," J Hunter.
"Accessibility Features of SMIL," M.-R. Koivunen and I. Jacobs, eds. This W3C Note is http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/NOTE-SMIL-access-19990921. The latest version of Accessibility Features of SMIL is available at available at http://www.w3.org/TR/SMIL-access.
"Designing for Accessibility," Eric Bergman and Earl Johnson. This paper discusses specific disabilities including those related to hearing, vision, and cognitive function.
"Towards Accessible Human-Computer Interaction," Eric Bergman, Earl Johnson, Sun Microsytems 1995. A substantial paper, with a valuable print bibliography.
"Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) 1.0 Specification (Working Draft)," J. Ferraiolo, ed. The latest version of the SVG specification is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/SVG.
"Accessibility of Scalable Vector Graphics (Working Draft)," C. McCathieNevile, M.-R. Koivunen, eds. The latest version is available at http://www.w3.org/1999/09/SVG-access.
"Application Software Design Guidelines," compiled by G. Vanderheiden. A thorough reference work.
"User Agent Accessibility Guidelines," J. Gunderson and I. Jacobs, eds. The latest version of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines is available at http://www.w3.org/WAI/UA/UAAG10.
"Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0," J. Gunderson, and I. Jacobs, eds. The latest version of Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/UAAG10-TECHS/.
The Web Accessibility Initiative Evaluation and Repair Tools Working Group tracks and develops tools that can help repair accessibility errors.
"Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0," W. Chisholm, G. Vanderheiden, and I. Jacobs, eds., 5 May 1999. This Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WAI-WEBCONTENT-19990505. The latest version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/.
"Techniques for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0," W. Chisholm, G. Vanderheiden, and I. Jacobs, eds. The latest version of Techniques for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10-TECHS/.
"What is Accessible Software," James W. Thatcher, Ph.D., IBM, 1997. This paper gives a short example-based introduction to the difference between software that is accessible, and software that can be used by some assistive technologies.
"XHTML(TM) 1.0: The Extensible HyperText Markup Language (Working Draft)," S. Pemberton et al. The latest version of XHTML 1.0 is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1.
"The Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.0," T. Bray, J. Paoli, C. M. Sperberg-McQueen, eds., 10 February 1998. This XML 1.0 Recommendation is http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/REC-xml-19980210. The latest version of the XML specification is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-xml.
"XML Accessibility Guidelines (Draft Note)," D. Dardailler, ed. Draft notes for producing accessible XML document types. The latest version of the XML Accessibility Guidelines is available at http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/xmlgl.

Level Double-A conformance icon, W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0