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Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) Overview

Page Contents

Quick links: ATAG at a Glance, ATAG 2.0 Proposed Recommendation, Implementing ATAG 2.0, ATAG 1.0,


Authoring tools are software and services that "authors" (web developers, designers, writers, etc.) use to produce web content (static web pages, dynamic web applications, etc.). Examples of authoring tools are listed below under "Who ATAG is for".

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) documents explain how to:

ATAG is part of a series of accessibility guidelines, including the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG). Essential Components of Web Accessibility explains the relationship between the different guidelines.

Who ATAG is for

ATAG is primarily for developers of authoring tools, including the following types of authoring tools:

ATAG and supporting resources are also intended to meet the needs of many different audiences, including policy makers, managers, and others. For example:

Is ATAG 2.0 a finished standard?

ATAG 2.0 is currently a W3C "Proposed Recommendation". (These stages are explained in How WAI Develops Accessibility Guidelines through the W3C Process.) This means that ATAG 2.0 has passed its implementation test and has demonstrated real world examples of products that are using ATAG 2.0 to make their products more accessible.

If you are an authoring tool developer, you can start using ATAG 2.0 with confidence that it is stable and will be an official W3C Recommendation (standard) soon.

What is in ATAG 2.0

ATAG 2.0 has two main parts:

ATAG 2.0 is organized in layers:

ATAG at a Glance provides a short summary of the accessibility principles and guidelines in ATAG 2.0.

ATAG is a normative technical standard. The success criteria are the basis for determining conformance to ATAG 2.0.

A supporting non-normative document helps understand and use ATAG: Implementing ATAG 2.0. Implementing ATAG 2.0 provides the rationale for each guideline; and for each success criterion, it provides the intent for accessibility and implementation notes, examples, and links to resources.

Technical document format

ATAG follows the W3C format for technical specifications, which has several sections at the beginning, including links to different versions, editors, abstract, and status.

ATAG Versions: 1.0 and 2.0

Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 was approved in February 2000 and will be superceded by ATAG 2.0 when W3C development process is complete.

ATAG 2.0 is being developed to be compatible with WCAG 2.0. WAI anticipates ATAG 2.0 will be completed in 2015. Because of the nature of the W3C development process, WAI cannot be certain when the final version of ATAG 2.0 will be available. ATAG 1.0 will remain the official approved version until version 2.0 is complete.

Currently ATAG 2.0 is a mature specification and we expect that it will not change significantly. We recommend that you use the ATAG 2.0 Proposed Recommendation in most cases.

Who develops ATAG

ATAG technical documents are developed by the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (ATAG WG), which is part of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). For more information about the working group, see the AUWG page.

How WAI Develops Accessibility Guidelines through the W3C Process: Milestones and Opportunities to Contribute describes formal periods for public review. Opportunities for review and comment of WAI documents are announced on the WAI home page and WAI Interest Group mailing list. An email address for sending comments is included in the "Status of this Document" section.

Opportunities for contributing to ATAG and other WAI work are introduced in Participating in WAI.