Proposal for ATAG 2.1


This proposal looks at three major areas involved in an upgrade to Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0 to make it current with WCAG 2.1.

  • Thirteen (13) ATAG Success Criteria that simply need a search-and-replace link and version number change because they are directly dependent on WCAG.
  • Two to six (2-6) new ATAG Success Criteria that would need to be written to bring ATAG in line with new WCAG 2.1 success criteria
  • Recommendations for Candidate Recommendation testing

Note that this is a tightly prescribed proposal. It does not include new features for ATAG 2.1. This proposal only involves the effort to bring ATAG 2.0 to align with WCAG 2.1.

Overview of ATAG 2.0

Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0 was published in 2015. ATAG 2.0 was structured to be tightly integrated with WCAG 2.0 and many of the ATAG 2.0 success criteria directly reference WCAG 2.0. ATAG 2.0 does not have Techniques and Understanding companion documents, but rather has Implementing ATAG which provides intent, examples, and related resources for each ATAG 2.0 success criterion.

ATAG is divided into two sections: Part A: Make the authoring tool user interface accessible and Part B: Support the production of accessible content. Each part is preceded by Conformance Applicability Notes which set boundaries around authoring tool responsibilities and general exceptions. While they should be reviewed, they do not appear to require updates. The Conformance section does not appear to require updates for alignment with WCAG 2.1.

ATAG applies to both web-based authoring tools and software authoring tools that produce web content. This is important to keep in mind when requiring new features to meet WCAG 2.1.

ATAG 2.0 Success Criteria directly dependent on WCAG

The following thirteen (13) ATAG 2.0 success criteria take their level from WCAG. In other words, if the ATAG user interface feature or content produced by the ATAG success criterion passes WCAG A, it meets ATAG A. If it passes WCAG A and AA, then it passes ATAG AA. These success criteria only need a search and replace to update them for ATAG 2.1.

  1. A.1.1.1 Web-Based Accessible (WCAG)
  2. B.1.1.1 Content Auto-Generation After Authoring Sessions (WCAG)
  3. B.1.1.2 Content Auto-Generation During Authoring Sessions (WCAG)
  4. B.1.2.1 Restructuring and Recoding Transformations (WCAG)
  5. B.1.2.2 Copy-Paste Inside Authoring Tool (WCAG)
  6. B.2.1.1 Accessible Content Possible (WCAG)
  7. B.2.2.1 Accessible Option Prominence (WCAG)
  8. B.2.2.2 Setting Accessibility Properties (WCAG)
  9. B.2.3.1 Alternative Content is Editable (WCAG)
  10. B.2.4.1 Accessible Template Options (WCAG)
  11. B.3.1.1 Checking Assistance (WCAG)
  12. B.3.2.1 Repair Assistance (WCAG)
  13. B.4.2.1 Model Practice (WCAG)

New ATAG 2.1 Success Criteria needed

New ATAG success criteria are needed to implement the applicable new WCAG 2.1 success criteria that apply to the principles of Part A:

The editing view in an authoring tool is often a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) working view. ATAG recognizes that people with disabilities need to be able to work in the editing view with the necessary accessibility personalization, without that personalization impacting the final resulting content. For example, they may need to work in the editing view in 30 point text in high contrast, while they want the output to an end user to be 12 pt dark green text on a beige background. They also need to be able to preview the content exactly as it will appear to an end user, even if it is not fully accessible. Not all of the new WCAG 2.1 success criteria are applicable to editing views. For example, 1.3.5 Identify input purpose would not apply to the editing view, although 1.3.5 would be included in ATAG's A.1.1.1 Web-based Accessible.

When evaluating whether ATAG needs a new success criterion, the following questions should be asked:

  • Is it covered by A.1.1.1 (which includes all the WCAG success criteria)?
  • Are there special needs of the editing process and view that would need to addressed? For example, an author working on a 3 column layout could need to work in one column, so Reflow fits here.
  • Will this proposed new success criterion be able to be implemented in non-web-based authoring tools?

New Success Criteria from WCAG 2.1

The following table was taken from WCAG 2.1 Implementation Report and is included here for reference and convenience.

New Success Criteria in WCAG 2.1
Success Criterion Level Implementations
in WCAG 2.1 CR
1.3.4: Orientation AA 11
1.3.5: Identify input Purpose AA 10
1.3.6: Identify Purpose AAA 5
1.4.10: Reflow AA 13
1.4.11: Non-Text Contrast AA 14
1.4.12: Text Spacing AA 13
1.4.13: Content on Hover or Focus AA 7
2.1.4: Character Key Shortcuts A 5
2.2.6: Timeouts AAA 2
2.3.3: Animation from Interactions AAA 2
2.5.1: Pointer Gestures A 6
2.5.2: Pointer Cancellation A 11
2.5.4: Motion Actuation A 4
2.5.5: Target Size AAA 4
2.5.6: Concurrent Input Mechanisms AAA 5
2.5.5: Label in Name A 15
4.1.3: Status Messages AA 5

The WCAG 2.1 new success criteria that need an equivalence in ATAG Part A

  • 1.4.10 Reflow in the editing view
  • 1.4.12: Text Spacing

SCs needing more discussion and use cases

  • 2.5.1 Pointer Gestures & 2.5.2: Pointer Cancellation. ATAG has a well-developed keyboard section for the benefit of non-web-based authoring tools. I'm not sure there are specific use cases for new success criteria for pointer events in the editing view. The cancellation of mistakes is covered in Guideline A.4.1, which should cover 2.5.2 Pointer Cancellation.
  • 2.2.6: Timeouts (ATAG has A.3.2.2 Timing Adjustable that should be checked if updated language is needed).
  • 2.3.3: Animation from Interactions would need to be separately controlled in the editing view, because developers/creators need to handle that media. It is probably already covered by A.3.3.1 Static View Option.
  • 4.1.3: Status Messages. ATAG specifically addresses a more narrow example in A.2.2.1 Editing-View Status Indicators. Would it be necessary for non-web-based authoring tools to cover the broader use cases of WCAG 4.1.3?

WCAG 2.1 new success criteria covered by A.1.1.1

  • 1.3.4 Orientation
  • 1.3.5: Identify input Purpose
  • 1.3.6: identify Purpose
  • 1.4.11: Non-Text Contrast
  • 1.4.13: Content on Hover or Focus
  • 2.1.4: Character Key Shortcuts
  • 2.5.4: Motion Actuation
  • 2.5.5: Target Size
  • 2.5.6: Concurrent Input Mechanisms
  • 2.5.5: Label in Name

New Success Criteria for Part B

There are no new success criteria needed to align ATAG with WCAG 2.1 in Part B. B.3.1.4, B.3.2.1 and perhaps others include a link to WCAG 2.0 that would need to be updated. There should be an overall review that all links are correctly updated, including in the Conformance section.

Recommendations for Candidate Recommendation Exit Criteria

It was difficult to determine CR Exit Criteria for ATAG, because 13 of the success criteria depend on meeting all of the applicable WCAG 2.0 success criteria. An important principle that was established in the ATAG 2.0 Candidate Recommendation Exit Criteria was that ATAG 2.0 did not have prove implementation of WCAG 2.1. Those implementations were already demonstrated in WCAG 2.1. ATAG only needs to demonstrate implementations of the features that are unique to ATAG.

None of the 13 success criteria that depend on WCAG 2.1 would need to be tested again, as it has already been established that ATAG 2.0 works with WCAG and that is not changing. This means that ATAG 2.1 exit criteria would only need to demonstrate two source-code-independent implementations of the new ATAG success criteria.

Next Steps

  1. Build understanding, then seek feedback on and build potential support for the proposal.
  2. Reach out to the original CR implementors of ATAG 2.0 and to the Wordpress and Drupal accessibility communities who are major implementors of ATAG since its publication.
  3. Enroll leadership for the project who are familiar with W3C Process.
  4. Form the group to work on writing ATAG. I recommend a W3C Community Group to update ATAG to 2.1. Doing this in a community group would engage the open source organizations and give them the ability both to contribute to ATAG 2.1 and to lobby internally for adding the new ATAG 2.1 success criteria features to their open source products. That is a time-consuming process for them, but ultimately key to broad uptake of ATAG 2.1. Alternatively, key members could be given Invited Expert status, but they may not want to do that. They refused Invited Expert status for ATAG 2,0, but did stay involved in the periphery of ATAG work and pushed implementation of ATAG in their organizations. They still continue to promote ATAG.
  5. Hold a small Face to Face meeting to write the new success criteria and their Implementing AGWG material. Test "in-the-wild" implementations and document the results in the Implementation Report.
  6. After the F2F,
    • publish drafts (either CG or WG drafts)
    • respond to public comments
    • continue to identify implementations in the wild and test them OR wait for implementations while pursuing chartering and W3C Recommendation Track work.
  7. File a Community Group Final Report and use that to charter in whatever W3C Working Group is appropriate to pick up the work, probably Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AGWG).
  8. Publish the First Public Working Draft (FPWD) and respond to comments. This should be minimal since there will be 2-6 new success criteria.
  9. Go to Candidate Recommendation (CR) as soon as W3C Process allows and when the implementations have all been identified and tested.

Using the Community Group with W3C-assisted leadership would keep the time-consuming part of the work out of AGWG, and could follow a more stream-lined path from Community Group Final Report to First Public Working Draft and directly to Candidate Recommendation as expeditiously as allowed by W3C Process. There would need to be discussion of the various advantages and drawbacks of the timing of the chartering process.

Organizations implementing ATAG 2.0 for Candidate Recommendation

The following products were tested for ATAG 2.0 Candidate Recommendation implementations. Some of these products were "in-the-wild" products identified to identify specific features of ATAG. These would not need to be tested again.

  • Amara Video
  • Atutor
  • CKEdit
  • Common Look
  • D2L (Desire to Learn)
  • D2L Capture
  • D2L Lecture Capture
  • Defacto CMS
  • Dreamweaver 2014
  • Dreamweaver CS6
  • Easy Chirp
  • Google Docs
  • MS Notepad
  • Notepad++
  • Open Author
  • Redactor
  • Standard Web
  • TinyMCE
  • Twitter
  • Windows Notepad
  • Wordpress