Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines
Now a W3C Recommendation

Table of Contents
1. What Are the Authoring Tool Guidelines?
2. What Is A W3C Recommendation?
3. Supplemental Resources on Web Accessibility

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) released the final draft of it's Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) on February 3, 2000.


What Are the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines?

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines are part of a series of accessibility guidelines published by the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative. The series also includes the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines provides guidance for developers of software which creates content for the web (or in a web-based markup language). The purpose of the Guidelines is two-fold: to assist developers in designing authoring tools that generate accessible web content and to "assist developers in creating an accessible authoring interface".

Accessible web content is achieved by encouraging authoring tool users (a.k.a. "authors") to create accessible web content through mechanisms such as prompts, alerts, checking and repair functions, help files, and automated transformation and conversion tools. It is, of course, equally important to ensure that anyone, regardless of disability or lack of technical expertise, can create web content that is accessible, as well as aesthetically pleasing. it is, therefore, of critical importance that the tools used to create such content are themselves accessible. Adoption of these Guidelines will result in the proliferation of web pages that can be read by a broader range of readers and in authoring tools that can be used by a broader range of authors.

The Guidelines have been organized as follows:

  1. There are seven "guidelines" Each guideline includes:
  2. Each guideline specifies one or more prioritized "checkpoints" that explain how authoring tool developers can satisfy the guideline. Each checkpoint definition includes: Each checkpoint is intended to be specific enough that it can be verified, while being sufficiently general to allow developers the freedom to use the most appropriate strategies to meet the checkpoint.

  3. An appendix document lists all the checkpoints in the Guidelines, organized by guideline and checkpoint number, as well as priority.

The Guidelines document includes a conformance statement that explains how programs that produce content intended to be accessed via a user agent (such as a browser or PC-based Digital Talking Book Player) can claim conformance to the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines.

The Guidelines are also accompanied by another document, entitled "Techniques for Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines". The Techniques document explains in detail how software developers may implement the checkpoints enumerated in the Guidelines. It also includes references to other accessibility resources, such as platform-specific software accessibility guidelines, which give additional information on how a tool may satisfy each checkpoint. (Please note that the Techniques document, which continues to evolve, is not (yet, at least) a W3C Recommendation, and comments about ATAG techniques are welcomed.)

The Guidelines have been produced by the W3C's Authoring Tool Guidelines Working Group as part of the Web Accessibility Initiative.


What is a W3C Recommendation?

On 3 February 2000, version 1.0 of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) was released as a W3C Recommendation. The designation "W3C Recommendation" signifies that the document has been subjected to a public review (which ended on October 4, 1999) and that it has been circulated amongst W3C member organizations for review. Translated into plain English, this means is that the ATAG now carry the same weight and authority as the markup languages (such as HTML, The Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL), and StyleSheets) that form the foundation of the web.


Supplemental Resources about ATAG, WAI, and W3C

What follows is a list of supplemental resources, which you can use to learn more about the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines, the W3C, the WAI, and web accessibility in general.

  1. Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG)
    1. Conformance Evaluations of Authoring Tools
    2. ATAG Checklist (Linear Format)
    3. ATAG Checklist (Table Format)
    4. Techniques for Authoring Tool Accessibility
    5. ATAG Press Release (3 February 2000)
    6. ATAG Fact Sheet
    7. Testimonials In Support of ATAG
  2. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
    1. What Are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines?
    2. Techniques for Web Content Accessibility
    3. WCAGL Press Release (5 May 1999)
    4. WCAG Fact Sheet
    5. Testimonials In Support of the WCAG
  3. User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) -- CR Draft
    1. Techniques for User Agent Accessibility
    2. UAAG Impact Matrix
    3. UAAG Implementation Report
    4. User Agent Responsibilities
  4. The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
    1. Web Accessibility Reference Materials
    2. WAI Interest Group: a way for you to get involved!
    3. WAI Monthly Bulletin
    4. Accessibility Features of CSS
    5. Accessibility Features of HTML 4.0
    6. Accessibility Features of SMIL 1.0
  5. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
    1. W3C Process Document
    2. W3C Technical Reports, Recommendations, and Notes
  6. webwatch-l: an emailing list dedicated to web accessibility
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This page is Double-A conformant to the W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 This page was created on October 26, 1999
Contents of this document last modified February 3, 2000