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Authoring Tools

Jan Richards - UI Specialist


Authoring Tools

Accessibility by Hand

Some aspects of accessible Web page design are simple enough to be performed by hand, assuming that:

  • the author has the necessary knowledge,
  • the tool allows sufficient author access,
  • and the format is appropriate (e.g. HTML, but not PDF)

Authoring Tools

Accessibility by Hand (con\'t)


  • accessibility requirements are becoming more complex,
  • the average author is not becoming an accessibility expert,
  • Web pages are becoming far more complex,
  • and tools are being produced that hide many of the low-level details of the final content.

Authoring Tools

Automating Accessibility

The only practical solution is to automate compliance with accessibility requirements to the greatest extent possible:

  • within the tools that authors already use,
  • within tools beyond basic HTML editors,
  • with more sophisticated checking and repair strategies.

Authoring Tools

Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines

The W3C is seeking to support tool makers in this work with the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) document series:

  • Version 1.0 is already a W3C recommendation,
  • Version 2.0 is a W3C working draft.

Authoring Tools

The Key Requirements of ATAG

  1. The authoring tool itself must be accessible to authors with disabilities
  2. Production of accessible content must be enabled (well chosen formats, auto-generated content accessible)
  3. The author must be supported with tools (checking, repair, etc.)
  4. The accessibility related functionality must be properly integrated

Authoring Tools

Focus: Equivalents Management

Mockup of an insert image dialog with a dropdown box showing several alt-text options.

A mockup of a text equivalents registry viewer showing lists and preview of multimedia objects and their various text equivalents.

Authoring Tools

Focus: Integration

Poor integration helps no one:

A mockup of a dialog announcing that a document contains 547 accessibility problems

Today\'s integration is getting better:

A screenshot from Dreamweaver MX 2004 with the LIFT extensions showing the results of an accessibility check.

But, there is room for improvement:

A mockup showing accessibility checking as the author types



Authoring Tools

Focus: Integration (con\'t)

In fact accessibility-awareness is not just about checking and repair. It has more to do with supporting decisions


Authoring Tools


For more information, visit the W3C-WAI Authoring Tool Working Group at: