News Release: World Wide Web Consortium Issues Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines as a Recommendation

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From: Janet Daly (
Date: Thu Feb 03 2000 - 05:39:31 PST


World Wide Web Consortium Issues Authoring Tool
Accessibility Guidelines as a Recommendation

New Guidelines Spur Development of Tools that Help Produce
Accessible Web Content

Contact America --
     Janet Daly, <>, +1.617.253.2613
Contact Europe --
     Carine Rigaud <>, +
     Christelle Moraga <>, +
Contact Asia --
     Yuko Watanabe <>, +81.466.49.1170

Relevant URIs for this release:

Press release


Fact Sheet

Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 - Full Recommendation

List of Checkpoints for Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 -- 3 February 2000 -- The World Wide Web Consortium
(W3C) today announced the release of the "Authoring Tool Accessibility
Guidelines 1.0" (ATAG 1.0) specification, providing guidance to
developers on how to design accessible authoring tools that produce
accessible Web content. As a W3C Recommendation, the specification is
stable, contributes to the universality of the Web, and has been
reviewed by the W3C Membership. W3C encourages developers to promote Web
accessibility by implementing this Recommendation.

ATAG 1.0 Provides Guidance for Tool Developers

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 explain how developers
of authoring tools, such as HTML editors and site management tools, can
encourage and assist in the production of accessible Web content through
prompts, alerts, checking, repair functions, and help files in their
tools. In addition to their value to accessibility, many of the
principles addressed in the specification, such as the importance of
producing and preserving valid markup, promote interoperability of the
Web in general.

The Guidelines address not only the accessibility of content produced by
tools, but the accessibility of the tool itself. The Web is not a
read-only medium, and accessible authoring tools will enable all people
to publish to the Web, regardless of disability.

ATAG 1.0 Will Contribute to Increase in Accessible Web Content

There has been an increasing interest in creating accessible Web sites
particularly since the May 1999 release of W3C's Web Content
Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, and a correspondingly greater demand for
tools that produce accessible content. Implementation of ATAG 1.0 will
contribute to the proliferation of accessible Web content.

"Most content on the web is created using authoring tools. If authoring
tools seamlessly guide authors in creating accessible content, the
wealth of information on the Web will become more accessible," said
Jutta Treviranus, Chair of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines
Working Group and Director of the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre at
the University of Toronto. "Just as important, the Web as a means of
expression should not be reserved for people without disabilities. These
guidelines promote authoring tools that create content that is
accessible, and authoring tools that are usable by people with
disabilities, thereby cultivating a World Wide Web that we can all
participate in."

ATAG 1.0 Addresses a Wide Array of Authoring Tools

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 address a broad range of
tools, including WYSIWYG editors, "save-as-HTML" conversion tools, tools
that dynamically generate content from databases, formatting tools,
image editors, and site management tools.

ATAG 1.0 consists of twenty-eight requirements, called "checkpoints,"
for developing accessible authoring tools that produce accessible
content. The checkpoints are organized according to seven overriding
design principles, called "guidelines."

As with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, ATAG 1.0
checkpoints have three priority levels, which correspond to their
importance for accessibility. There is a checklist providing a quick
overview of the checkpoints by priority. W3C has made icons available
for products claiming any one of the three conformance levels.

Broad Support, Multiple Implementations Under Development

The ATAG 1.0 Recommendation was written by members of the Authoring Tool
Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AUWG), composed of key industry
players as well as disability and research organizations. A list of AUWG
members is available.

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group is preparing a
variety of implementation support materials to assist developers,
including the "Techniques for Authoring Tool Accessibility," published
today as a W3C Note. At the time of this release, every requirement of
the Guidelines has been implemented by one or more existing tools,
though no tool yet satisfies all checkpoints. In addition, authoring
tool developers are planning ATAG 1.0 support in upcoming products,
indicated among the wide range of testimonials.

About the Web Accessibility Initiative

W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), in partnership with
organizations around the world, is pursuing accessibility of the Web
through five activities:

   1.ensuring that core technologies of the Web support accessibility;
   2.developing guidelines for Web content, user agents, and authoring
   3.developing evaluation and repair tools for accessibility;
   4.conducting education and outreach;
   5.coordinating with research and development that can affect future
accessibility of the Web.

The WAI International Program Office is supported in part by funding
from the U.S. National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of
Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation
Research, European Commission's DG XIII Telematics Applications
Programme for Disabled and Elderly, the Government of Canada, IBM, Lotus
Development Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, and Bell Atlantic. For
more information see

About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by developing
common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its
interoperability. It is an international industry consortium jointly run
by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (MIT LCS) in the USA, the
National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA)
in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the
Consortium include: a repository of formation about the World Wide Web
for developers and users, reference code implementations to embody and
promote standards, and various prototype and sample applications to
demonstrate use of new technology. To date, 390 organizations are
Members of the Consortium. For more information see



Those who provided tesimonials in support of the W3C Authoring Tool
Accessibility Guidelines include:

American Association of People with Disabilities; Access to Information
Task Force; Amaya; Bell Atlantic Corporation; The Boeing Corporation;
Electricité de France; Hong Kong Blind Union; HTML Writers Guild; IBM;
Internet Advisory Council, Government of Canada; Microsoft Corporation;
Ministry of Science and Technology, Portugal; RealNetworks; Royal
National Institute for the Blind; Sausage Software Limited; SID@R; and
SoftQuad Software.

People with disabilities have long been excluded from new technologies.
A growing technology gap threatens to increase the high rates of
unemployment and exclusion that people with disabilities face in the
United States and worldwide. AAPD, the largest cross-disability
membership organization in the U.S., enthusiastically welcomes these new
guidelines which will help make the Web more accessible to the
constituency we represent. AAPD encourages all Web site developers to
demand authoring tools that implement these guidelines and that can be
used to maximize the participation of all in the Web community.
-- Andrew J. Imparato, President and CEO, American Association of People
with Disabilities

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines, together with W3C's Web
Content Accessibility Guidelines issued last spring, represent a sea
change for the Internet. If tools implementing these guidelines are
placed in the hands of Web designers, accessibility will be the standard
outcome of Web site development. By making the tools themselves
accessible for individuals with disabilities, the opportunity to
participate in the global community of the Internet is opened to all.
The Access to Information Task Force applauds the work of WAI and
pledges our efforts to promote use of these guidelines.
-- Paul W. Schroeder, Chair, Access to Information Task Force, which
includes: The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), The American
Council of the Blind (ACB), The Association for Education and
Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER), and the
National Industries for the Blind (NIB).

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines represent a major step
forward that will allow for the creation of accessible Web pages. W3C's
Amaya team wholeheartedly supports these guidelines, and has already
started implementing the guidelines in Amaya, W3C's Web browser/editor
test bed. Implementing and demonstrating W3C Recommendations is the main
purpose of Amaya, and implementing the Authoring Tool Accessibility
Guidelines will be among the top priorities of the Amaya development
-- Irène Vatton, Amaya Architect, W3C/INRIA

As a company dedicated to accessible communications, Bell Atlantic would
welcome the availability of commercial-grade authoring tools to automate
the creation of accessible web sites. The incredible potential of the
Internet will not be fully achieved unless all users -- including those
with disabilities -- can successfully participate in the e-commerce,
information and entertainment opportunities offered on-line. We salute
the W3C's success in bringing industry and the disability community
together to develop accessibility guidelines, and we encourage Internet
users on both sides of the monitor to support Web accessibility.
-- Tom Tauke, Senior Vice President, Bell Atlantic

When Boeing says the Web can help us do business with "anyone, anywhere,
any time," we mean anyone. Both our external Web site and our intranet
are used by a large and diverse base of customers, employees, suppliers,
and partners. We are committed to making those sites accessible to all
users, including people with disabilities. Boeing applauds the Web
Accessibility Initiative's efforts to simplify the development of
accessible sites and encourages our vendors to adopt the Authoring Tool
Accessibility Guidelines."
-- Ann Bassetti, Web Products Manager, Boeing Shared Services Group, The
Boeing Company

Electricité de France is a group that employs a large number of disabled
people, some of them with severe handicaps. We welcome this
Recommendation as a new step towards more accessible work environments
we could provide them. From a business to consumer point of view, we
wish to greet a specification that will allow us, if tool vendors
conform to these guidelines, to establish better contacts with our
-- Laurent Prevosto and Daniel Glazman, Electricité de France

Since the design of Web pages affects accessibility of Web sites for
people with visual impairments, the Hong Kong Blind Union supports the
Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines which will help protect our
equal rights to access the Web. Availability of authoring tools that
support these guidelines will help organizations make their Web sites
accessible. The Hong Kong Blind Union will promote awareness and
implementation of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines to our
government, public sector, and private sector.
-- Mr. Chong Chan Yau JP, President, Hong Kong Blind Union

The World Wide Web was originally envisioned as a read-AND-write medium;
Web users are active participants, not a passive audience. The Authoring
Tool Accessibility Guidelines embody that vision, promoting the creation
of software to let everyone fully participate in the Web, as content
creators and content users.
-- Kynn Bartlett, President, HTML Writers Guild.

IBM supports this W3C Recommendation and recognizes it as the standard
for authoring tool accessibility. The Recommendation sets a challenging
bar for tool manufacturers to meet, but, once met, it will benefit not
only the tool users, but the millions of people who need accessible Web
content. Our own TopPage and WebSphere Studio tools will
be meeting checkpoints and aiding in the production of accessible
content. IBM's participation in W3C and development of Home Page Reader
are additional initiatives helping to make e-business accessible for
-- Jeffrey Barnett, IBM WebSphere Product Manager

We are pleased to see W3C encouraging the development of Web software
products to enhance accessibility of Web sites through provision of
guidelines that will facilitate development of such products. We
understand the guidelines
will enable software suppliers to provide authoring tools that
facilitate the creation of accessible Web-based services and
information. Canadians are increasingly using the Web as a tool for
electronic commerce and personal development such as distance learning.
Sites which facilitate access by all Canadians will obviously have an
-- Eleanor Zazaluk, Chair, Internet Advisory Committee, Treasury Board
Secretariat, Government of Canada

The Authoring Tool guidelines are a highly leveraged step toward more
accessible Web sites. Widespread adoption of the guidelines by companies
that produce authoring tools - and in turn, widespread use of those
tools - will make accessible Web sites the default rather than the
exception. In addition, the guidelines can help encourage the
wide range of manufacturers to make their authoring tools more usable by
people with
disabilities. Microsoft is proud to have been an active contributor to
the development of these
-- Greg Lowney, Director of Accessibility, Microsoft Corp.

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines help fulfill two basic needs
of people with disabilities on the Web: access and participation. In
July, 1999 the Portuguese Government's Council of Ministers approved a
resolution requiring accessible Web content on public administration Web
sites. The Ministry of Science and Technology will monitor, evaluate and
support Web authoring tools that make this task easier. Web authoring
tools are critical for education, work and full participation in the
"Internet Society," and should be based on principles of accessible
software design which enable authoring by people with disabilities.
-- Francisco Godinho, Adviser for the National Initiative for Citizens
with Special Needs in the Information Society - Ministry of Science and
Technology, Portugal

The full potential of the Web will only be realized when all the rich
sources of information and content it contains are fully accessible. The
W3C's Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines offers a significant
enabling foundation that provides consistent support in Web content
authoring tools for the creation of Web content that is accessible by
all users. As a leading innovator in web-based multimedia and rich Web
experiences, RealNetworks supports these guidelines and we fully intend
to implement support for the guidelines in upcoming products.
-- Ben Rotholtz, General Manager, Systems and Tools, RealNetworks

The Royal National Institute for the Blind cannot overstress the
important role that the World Wide Web Consortium is playing in
recommending Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines, which support
accessible content development and accessibility of the tools
themselves. We fully endorse all steps taken that enhance the
possibility of
accessing electronic data across the Web by visually impaired people and
people with other disabilities.
-- Steve Tyler, Royal National Institute for the Blind

Sausage welcomes the release of the Authoring Tool Accessibility
Guidelines as a W3C Recommendation, and will implement and promote
awareness of the Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative to deliver
increased functionality to
customers of our HotDog Web authoring tools.
-- Rob Oliphant - General Manager Internet Tools, Sausage Software

The SID@R (Web Accessibility Initiatives Seminar) of Real Patronato,
Spain, considers that it is especially important that all people can be
authors of information on the Web, as well as readers. The Authoring
Tool Accessibility Guidelines are a comprehensive and clear document,
and we will be pleased to have tools available that
implement these guidelines that will enable more people to create Web
content and to use the
Web. SIDAR will promote awareness and implementation of these
-- Emmanuelle Gutiérrez y Restrepo, SID@R Coordinator

Making the Web accessible to everyone is an important activity for W3C,
and one which SoftQuad Software fully supports. The release of the
Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Recommendation continues this
fine work. Our award-winning Web site creation tool, HoTMetaL PRO, was
the first to incorporate several accessibility features, including
prompting, to help make both browsing and authoring for the Web
accessible to everyone.
-- Roberto Drassinower, CEO, SoftQuad Software Inc.

Les Guides d'Accessibilité des Outils Auteur représentent un grand pas
en avant pour la création de futures pages Web accessibles. Toute
l'équipe Amaya du W3C supporte de tout coeur ces guides et a déjà
commencé leur implémentation dans Amaya, l'éditeur/navigateur
expérimental du W3C. L'implémentation et la démonstration des
recommandations du W3C est la tâche principale de Amaya, et
l'implémentation des Guides d'Accessibilité des Outils Auteur sera l'une
des grandes priorités de l'équipe de développement de Amaya.
-- Irène Vatton, Amaya Architect, W3C/INRIA

Electricité de France est un groupe qui emploie un grand nombre de
personnels handicapés, certains souffrant d'un handicap très important.
Nous accueillons très favorablement cette proposition de Recommandation
qui représente pour nous un nouveau pas vers la fourniture
d'environnements de travail adaptés à ces employés. Dans une optique
plus Service, nous saluons une spécification qui nous permettra, si elle
est respectée par les outils de production, de meilleurs contacts avec
nos clients.
-- Laurent Prevosto and Daniel Glazman, Electricité de France

El SID@R (Seminario de Iniciativas sobre Discapacidad y Accesibilidad en
la Red) del Real Patronato de Prevención y de Atención a Personas con
Minusvalía, considera especialmente importante que todas las personas
puedan ser autores de información en la Web, tanto como lectores. Las
Directrices de Accesibilidad para Herramientas de Autor constituyen un
documento claro y exhaustivo, y nos complacería contar con herramientas
que siguiesen dichas pautas, lo que capacitaría a más personas para
crear contenidos y para usar la Web. El SID@R promueve el conocimiento y
uso de esas directrices.
          -- Emmanuelle Gutiérrez y Restrepo, SID@R Coordinator

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