De-mystifying the ATAG 2.0 guidelines

De-mystifying the ATAG 2.0 guidelines

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) are a set of requirements for making authoring tools that are accessible, and capable of producing accessible content.

ATAG are used by the teams that develop authoring tools. In other words, the people who create What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editors, Content Management Systems (CMS), content creation tools (like photo editors or design tools), publication platforms (like blogs and wikis), and platforms that let users add content (like social media websites).

ATAG 1.0 were released in 2000 by the W3C, and replaced by ATAG 2.0 in 2015.

There are two parts to ATAG 2.0:

  • A: Make the authoring tool interface accessible
  • B: Support the production of accessible content

A. Make the authoring tool user interface accessible

Part A has 13 guidelines spread across four principles.

A.1. Authoring tool user interfaces follow applicable accessibility guidelines

  • A.1.1. (For the authoring tool user interface) Ensure that web-based functionality is accessible
  • A.1.2. (For the authoring tool user interface) Ensure that non-web-based functionality is accessible

A.2. Editing-views are perceivable

  • A.2.1. (For the authoring tool user interface) Make alternative content available to authors
  • A.2.2. (For the authoring tool user interface) Ensure that editing-view presentation can be programmatically determined

A.3. Editing-views are operable

  • A.3.1. (For the authoring tool user interface) Provide keyboard access to authoring features
  • A.3.2. (For the authoring tool user interface) Provide authors with enough time
  • A.3.3. (For the authoring tool user interface) Help authors avoid flashing that could cause seizures
  • A.3.4. (For the authoring tool user interface) Enhance navigation and editing via content structure
  • A.3.5. (For the authoring tool user interface) Provide text search of the content
  • A.3.6. (For the authoring tool user interface) Manage preference settings
  • A.3.7. (For the authoring tool user interface) Ensure that previews are at least as accessible as in-market user agents

A.4. Editing-views are understandable

  • A.4.1. (For the authoring tool user interface) Help authors avoid and correct mistakes
  • A.4.2. (For the authoring tool user interface) Document the user interface, including all accessibility features

B. Support the production of accessible content

Part B has a further 11 guidelines spread across another four principles.

B.1. Fully automatic processes produce accessible content

  • B.1.1. Ensure that automatically-specified content is accessible
  • B.1.2. Ensure that accessibility information is preserved

B.2. Authors are supported in producing accessible content

  • B.2.1. Ensure that accessible content production is possible
  • B.2.2. Guide authors to produce accessible content
  • B.2.3. Assist authors with managing alternative content for non-text content
  • B.2.4. Assist authors with accessible templates
  • B.2.5. Assist authors with accessible pre-authored content

B.3. Authors are supported in improving the accessibility of existing content

  • B.3.1. Assist authors in checking for accessibility problems
  • B.3.2. Assist authors in repairing accessibility problems

B.4. Authoring tools promote and integrate their accessibility features

  • B.4.1. Ensure the availability of features that support the production of accessible content
  • B.4.2. Ensure that documentation promotes the production of accessible content

Each guideline (in parts A and B) is then broken down into individual requirements known as Success Criteria (SC). As in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), each SC is assigned a conformance level, and when taken collectively, give the authoring tool an overall conformance level:

  • Level A: all applicable Level A SC have been met.
  • Level AA: All applicable Level A and Level AA SC have been met.
  • Level AAA: All applicable Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA SC have been met.

When an authoring tool meets ATAG, it means it can be used by people with disabilities to create content that is itself accessible to people with disabilities. It’s a tough standard to meet, but the result is empowering and positive.

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