The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) (news, site) has been busy making the web a more accessible place. In focus today is a project dubbed the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) -- it aims to help software vendors make better web content authoring and management tools, including WYSIWYG editors, word processors and web content management systems.

Improving the Tools

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guideline Working Group has released new working drafts of two documents focused on web development tools andaccessibility.

The AuthoringTool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0provides guidelines for webcontent tools that can be used more easilyby content authors withdisabilities. In addition, the guidelinesaddress how to design tools thatenable the creation of accessible webcontent.

Key items included in the guidancedocument are:

  • Producing accessible output (that is, Web pages) that meets standards and guidelines
  • Prompting the content author (that is, the authoringtool user) for accessibility-related information
  • Providing ways of checking and correcting inaccessible content
  • Integrating accessibility in the overall "look and feel," help, and documentation
  • Making the authoring tool itself accessible to people with disabilities

The group also released a companion to the ATAG 2.0documents titled“Implementing ATAG 2.0: A Guide to Understanding andImplementingAuthoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0”, which providessupportinginformation and examples for the tool accessibility criteriadescribedin ATAG 2.0.

Working drafts of both documents are available forpubliccomment until September 15, 2011.

Refining the Clients

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guideline Working Group isn’ttheonly team in the W3C focused on accessibility. The User AgentAccessibilityGuidelines Working Group has also been busily updatingthe User AgentAccessibility Guidelines (UAAG) 2.0.

Learning Opportunities

This documentdescribes the criteria foruser agents like browsers and media playersto support users with disabilities.Like the tools team, the group alsopublished a supporting document, ImplementingUAAG 2.0,which provides additional information like successcriteria andexamples for implementing the UAAG.

These documents are open forpubliccomment until August 19, 2011.

All of these guidelines are a part of the W3C’s larger Web Accessibility Initiative(WAI),which is responsible for defining international standards for web accessibility and support materials to help implement the standards.

Manyorganizations, especially those in education and government, haverequirementsthat content be accessible. The guidelines may also be ofinterest toorganizations without official accessibility requirements,but wish to delivertheir message to the widest audience possible.