The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines document is a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommendation for ensuring that people with disabilities can use your software to create content or applications that their customers or consumers then use. 1.
Let me back up, because that’s a mouthful.
Let’s say that you’re building a website or an application. Your company is creating the content, and someone (presumably a customer of yours) is consuming that content. You build the website with the blog post on it, your reader reads that blog post, everything’s done. That’s a typical scenario for using the WCAG.
Now, let’s say that you’re building the next WordPress, or the next Medium, or you’re building API management software to sell, or something like Github. Any time that you’re building a tool that builds websites that someone else then fills with content, and then the final user reads, that’s when you use the ATAG.
The ATAG are complex because you’re really building for two audiences.
First, you’re building a website (say, a blogging software — we’ll call it WordJournal. Or LivePress.) that your customer is going to buy. Your customer might be blind, so they need to be able to use the “write blog” window and the scheduling software and the comments reviewer.
Second, you’re making sure that when your customer writes their first blog post, aptly named “Hello, World!” that your software prevents them from making any heinous mistakes in accessibility. Maybe you let them choose a color theme for their blog — but you don’t let them pick yellow text on a white background, because that would break 1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum) – Level AA.
ATAG is broken up into two sections:
A. Make the authoring tool user interface accessible. In other words, your blind customer should be able to use their screen reader to write blog posts.
B. Support the product of accessible content. In other words, whenever possible you at least ask your blind customer “Are you sure you want to make that text yellow on a white background? Because it’s not accessible and you could run into problems”.
The good news is that if you’re practiced in the WCAG, the ATAG build off of them, so you’re not starting over from scratch.
- Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines by the W3C Accessibility Guidelines Working Group