Day 18: Introduction to ATAG

ATAG stands for Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines. Thanks to my pursuit to study for the WAS certification exam, this was my first introduction to ATAG. Sadly, I wish I’d been exposed to this earlier. This is an important specification recommended by W3C to offer guidelines in making web authoring tools (like WordPress) accessible to content creators (e.g. bloggers) who may have a disability Secondly, ATAG offers guidelines for developers, so that the code produced by their authoring tool of choice (e.g. WordPress) will output accessible code in order to make an accessible website (WCAG comes into play again).

For me, reading this spec for the first time, this is timely. I’m starting to see so many State of Alaska departments leaning on content management systems (CMS) to generate and update their web presence. My concern has grown about how accessible these sites are (is semantic code outputted?), but I’ve had nothing solid to back up my concern. Fortunately, others are way ahead of me and have given their time to form a specification to support this very concern.

This spec holds even more relevance for me as I continue to produce content for this site via WordPress.

Things I accomplished

What I learned today

There are two major parts of the ATAG spec:

  1. accessibility of authoring tool user interfaces to authors with disabilities, and
  2. support by authoring tools for the creation, by any author (not just those with disabilities), of web content that is more accessible to end users with disabilities.

ATAG shares similar guideline traits as WCAG. Each major part has principles, guidelines, success criteria, and three conformance levels (A, AA, AAA). This structure should help me absorb its documentation much easier than ARIA!

The definition of “authoring tools” in the ATAG glossary lists of several avenues that I didn’t even consider at first sight. Those tools include:

  • WSYWIG HTML editors (Dreamweaver, TinyMCE)
  • software for editing source code (VS Code)
  • software that converts to HTML (“Save As HTML” in Office docs)
  • IDEs (Visual Studio)
  • software that generates web content on the basis of templates, scripts, command-line input or “wizard”-type processes
  • software that quickly updates portions of websites (Wikipedia)
  • content management systems (Drupal, WordPress)
  • email clients that use rich HTML (MS Outlook)
  • multimedia authoring tools (iMovie)
  • software for creating mobile apps

Extra reads