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Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines for your accessible web
CSUN 2014

Jeanne Spellman, <>, @jspellman #csun14 #atag2 @w3c_wai
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What is an Authoring Tool?

Authoring Tools span from Twitter to Drupal, Dreamweaver to Eclipse. They are web based and standalone.


ATAG - Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0

diagram of author using an authoring tool to create web content

Why does ATAG matter? Isn't WCAG enough?

ATAG 2.0 will improve and support the accessible web experience, both for people with disabilities using a tool and for everyone who creates accessible web content (even if they don't know about accessibility).



Silver bullets inside a NO circle sign

Sorry, there are no silver bullets in accessibility













Modified photo from batLo. Some rights reserved.

Although we all would like a silver bullet that will solve all accessibility problems, ATAG improves accessibility. It does not solve all problems for all people.


ATAG: Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0

ATAG at a Glance

Part A and Part B


ATAG Part A:

Part A: Make the authoring tool user interface accessible


A1. Accessibility guidelines

Make a collage of different accessibility guidelines for different platforms.

Note on Standalone tools: We tried very hard to solve this one. We couldn't write a full accessibility guideline for software products across all platforms (we tried). This wording allows developers the flexibility to conform with accessibility legislation in their markets, while still insuring that the tool's user interface is exposed to the platform Accessibility APIs.

A2. Editing-views are perceivable

ATAG Part A focuses on the features that are specific to authoring tools.


A3. Editing-views are operable

Add image:

operable (continued)

Previews: This was tricky, because although we want previews to be accessible, most developers (including developers with disabilities) want the preview to look the way it will in major browsers. What we worked out is that if the tool has its own preview browser, it must meet UAAG, or can use a major browser.

A4. Editing-views are understandable



Support the production of accessible content


B1. Automatic processes produce accessible content


B2. Authors are supported in producing accessible content

A mockup artwork library dialog box where the alt text is suggested, but can be edited by the author.


A little note about prompting...

Many people think that an authoring tool that promotes accessibility has to use prompting. We did too, until we tried to write it as a standard.

A mockup 'Image Properties' dialog box in which the input fields are: source, short label, long description, height, and width.

Success Criterion B.2.2.2 Setting Accessibility Properties: explanation

B3. Authors are supported in improving the accessibility of existing content

Mockup of a utility providing context sensitive repair. The checker highlights the top row of a data table and the repair menu offers the option to set it as a header row.

Accesssibility checking does not have to be built into the tool, tools can bundled with a checker.

Mockup of a checker displaying problems and suggested solutions.


B4. Authoring tools promote and integrate their accessibility features


What's Next?


What's left until ATAG is complete?

ATAG is a W3C Candidate Recommendation, which means it is at the phase where it is being implemented by real authoring tools and being tested.

Help ATAG progress to a completed W3C Recommendation

For more information on helping ATAG, see Help ATAG progress to a completed W3C Recommendation

What else can I do?

Web Accessibility Initiative's work relies on public participation to obtain the quality of results we all want.

Participating In WAI ->

Participating In WAI ->

Happy 25th WWW
Happy 20th W3C

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Tim Berners-Lee (inventer of the Web) at the 2012 Olympics tweeting 'Its for evenyone'

Thank You

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Participating In WAI:

Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AUWG):

This presentation:

Jeanne Spellman, <>