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W3C Issues Authoring Tool Guidelines

The Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Thursday released the "Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" (ATAG 1.0) specification as a recommendation.

The guidelines are meant to provide guidance to developers on how to design accessible authoring tools that produce accessible Web content. The W3C Recommendation indicates that the specification is "stable, contributes to the universality of the Web, and has been reviewed by the W3C Membership."

The new Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 are designed to show developers of authoring tools, such as HTML editors and site management tools, how they can encourage the production of accessible Web content through the use of prompts, alerts, checking, repair functions, and help files to be included in their tools. Additionally, many of the principles addressed in the specification promote interoperability of the Web in general.

The Guidelines also discuss the accessibility of the tool itself. As the Web is not a read-only medium, accessible authoring tools can allow all people to publish information on the Web, regardless of any disabilities they may face. Implementation of ATAG 1.0 will contribute to the proliferation of highly accessible Web content.

The new Authoring Tool Guidelines address many tools, including WYSIWYG editors, "save-as-HTML" conversion tools, dynamic database tools, formatting tools, image editors and site management tools, among others. The ATAG 1.0 is made up of twenty-eight requirements for developing accessible authoring tools that produce accessible content.

The ATAG 1.0 Recommendation was developed by members of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AUWG), a group which is composed of key industry players along with disability and research organizations. The group is now working on a variety of implementation support materials to assist developers, including the "Techniques for Authoring Tool Accessibility," published today as a W3C Note.