Home / Accessibility Tools / Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) Overview for Beginners
Danny Trichter
Author
Hina Ilyas
Researcher
#ATAG #webaccessibility
April 21, 2022
3-5 minutes

Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) Overview for Beginners

There is an overwhelming variety of authoring tools available today, CRMS, wikis, document authoring tools, and video production environments being just a few examples. Even non-web-based tools such as HTML editors are considered authoring tools, all because they’re capable of creating content for the web.

As a developer of authoring tools, you may not have realized that web accessibility also applies to you – this is where ATAG comes in.

In this beginners guide, we provide you with the basic details you need on Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines to help you avoid costly and unnecessary demand letters.

ATAG at a Glance

ATAG forms part of a series of guidelines related to web accessibility. Other well-known documents include the Web Accessibility Content Guidelines (WCAG) and the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG). 

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines provide developers with standards they should meet when creating content authoring tools.

By being aware of these requirements, they are able to create tools that are more accessible to authors with disabilities, while also encouraging the creation of accessible content.

Developers of these tools are able to assist disabled authors and promote accessible content by incorporating prompts, help files, repair functions, and other automated capabilities.

Who is ATAG For?

If you develop authoring tools that fall into one of the below categories, the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines apply to you:

The applicable categories
  • Tools that convert content into web formats, including documents
  • Tools used to produce web content
  • Tools that publish and manage online content
  • Tools designed to produce multimedia for the web
  • Tools created for layout design and formatting

Primarily, ATAG is most applicable to developers. However, it can also meet the needs of managers and policymakers within organizations. 

These are the people who want to adopt accessible tools or encourage the development of ATAG-compliant tools within their organizations.

ATAG Versions 1.0 & 2.0

To help you better understand how to apply ATAG in the development process, let’s look at the differences between versions 1.0 and 2.0 of these authoring guidelines.

Approved in early 2000, ATAG 1.0 was the first version of these guidelines, and even though it is still valid, it is outdated. If you are a developer, it’s better to adhere to ATAG 2.0.

ATAG 2.0 can be divided into two parts, which we will cover now.

ATAG 2.0 – Part A

The first part of the ATAG applies to who you’re developing a tool for. It requires authoring tools to be both understandable and operable to disabled authors. 

Here are some of the standards that accessible authoring tools should meet:
  • Be free of flashing content that could trigger seizures
  • Users should be able to operate the tool using only a keyboard and no mouse
  • The content structure should be organized to enhance navigation and make the tool easy to understand
  • Users should be able to manage tool preferences
  • Text search options should be available. Matching search results should also be provided if the original search produced no results
  • Give authors enough time to read content
  • Provide features that will help authors avoid and correct input errors
  • All text should be editable, including alternative text

ATAG 2.0 – Part 2

Along with the tool being operable to disabled authors, it also needs to produce accessible content. 

Here are the additional requirements that accessible authoring tools need to meet:
  • Make it possible to produce accessible content
  • Support authors during the content creation process with accessible templates. Non-accessible templates should be clearly labeled
  • Make it easy for authors to manage alternative content such as images
  • Provide authors with the means to make existing content accessible
  • Guide authors in checking for and remediating accessibility issues

In Closing

ATAG is important because it emphasizes accessibility right from the start of the development process. 

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines are changing the face of web content and tool development as we know it, ensuring authors with disabilities can participate equally in the content creation process.

By prioritizing accessibility from the start as a developer or organization, you can save yourself both time, and hassle and avoid potential lawsuits. 

Find out whether your website is accessible or not by conducting a test on the Accessibility Checker

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