Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines


The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) used by web developers, designers, and authors help develop accessible and inclusive authoring tools. When ATAG guidelines are used to produce web content, individuals with disabilities can use the tools created to publish their accessible content on the Web.

What is ATAG?

Examples of authoring tools include HTML editors, integrated software, and multimedia authoring tools. Authoring tools help guide authors to create rich-text content. Popular software and services that comply with ATAG include Adobe Dreamweaver, WordPress, and Drupal. Each of these employs assistive technology to make the production of accessible content for blogs, wikis, and other content possible for all users.

ATAG is broken down into Part A and Part B, which then branch off into four principles that organize a set of guidelines and success criteria.

What is the ATAG 2.0 Standard?

A variety of factors have contributed to the ATAG 2.0 standard. These factors include approval by the W3C membership, public input, products with proven records of accessibility due to ATAG 2.0, and completed ATAG 2.0 implementation testing.

How is ATAG 2.0 different from ATAG 1.0?

The current ATAG standard is ATAG 2.0, which is the W3C recommendation. ATAG 2.0 goes into greater depth surrounding the rationale behind each set guideline while also providing a further explanation into the intent of each success criterion of ATAG.

The success criterion in ATAG 2.0 includes examples as well as links to relevant resources. While ATAG 1.0 is outdated, it is still valid and available for viewing.

Who developed ATAG?

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines were developed by the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (ATAG WG). The ATAG WG is part of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and belongs to the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). WAI is responsible for developing standards for implementing accessibility on the Web.

ATAG 1.0 was first approved in February of 2000 and has since been revised and updated to ATAG 2.0 on September 24, 2015.

Who is ATAG for?

As mentioned earlier, ATAG is primarily for developers or other authors of online authoring tools such as WYSIWYG HTML editors, software for generating websites, content management systems (CMS), and other multimedia authoring tools.

Policymakers, web designers, authoring tool purchasers, site publishers, and programmers are other intended authors of ATAG. These professionals are responsible for implementing ATAG standards when developing their tools to increase accessibility among individuals living with a disability.

ATAG was created specifically to ensure content conforms to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

What are the three Layers of ATAG 2.0?

Due to the uniqueness of the audience that follows ATAG, multiple layers of guidance are necessary to cover all of their varying needs. The three layers of ATAG 2.0 include principles, guidelines, and success criteria.


Under ATAG, there is a set of extensive principles that organize the guidelines. These principles include:

  • Part A: Authoring tools should be made accessible for all users. Part A expects authoring tools to be understandable and operable for all users. This means keyboard access to people who cannot use a mouse.
  • Part B: Authoring tools assisting authors in the regeneration of accessible content.


Following each of the principles are guidelines. These guidelines serve as a map for authoring tool developers regarding making authoring tools more accessible to individuals with varying disabilities that use the web or create content.

Although the guidelines are not testable, the framework and overall objectives provide insight into authoring tool developers’ success criteria. Included in each guideline is a summary of why it was included.

Success criteria

As mentioned, each guideline includes testable success criteria. These success criteria allow ATAG 2.0 to be used when conformance testing is necessary. These situations include design specification, purchasing, regulation, and contractual agreements.

Due to the varying audience of ATAG, there are multiple levels of conformance available for authoring tool developers to reference. Under ATAG 2.0, there are two types of conformance, each with three following levels.

  1. TAG 2.0 Conformance (Level A, AA, or AAA):
  2. Partial ATAG 2.0 Conformance - Process Component (Level A, AA, or AAA)

Why write the ATAG?

The web is a public resource that should be fair and adaptable to all users, regardless of their ability. When authoring tool developers write using ATAG, they provide individuals with varying disabilities the opportunity to design accessible content with accessible tools, therefore promoting the creation of more accessible web content.

ATAG is the standard that all authoring tool developers should be referencing as they design and implement their tools on the Web to ensure accessibility. ATAG was written to bring the standard of authoring tool development to a fairground for all individuals and end-users on the Web.

Is ATAG mandatory?

While ATAG 2.0 is not mandatory by law, it is highly recommended by the WC3 Working Group to ensure the accessibility of all online authoring tools.

How does ATAG relate to WCAG?

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines are one part of Web Accessibility. Concerning WCAG, ATAG 2.0 refers to WCAG 2.0 when describing the accessibility of web-based authoring tool user interfaces in Part A and how authors should be enabled and supported toward creating web content that is more accessible to end-users with disabilities in Part B.

Along with WCAG guidelines, ATAG also follows and incorporates the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG).

How do I implement ATAG 2.0?

The WC3 has created an extensive document regarding Implementing ATAG 2.0. This document includes a detailed explanation of ATAG 2.0 guidelines and success criteria used for implementation.

The Working Group recommends that authoring tool developers consider each of the examples included in the document and encourages implementers of ATAG 2.0 to submit their examples for future updates to the document.

Implementation of ATAG 2.0 is split into two parts, followed by the four subsections of principles of ATAG. Each section includes success criterion as it is described in ATAG 2.0, Intent of Success Criterion, examples, and related resources.

  • Part A: Authoring tools should be made accessible for all users.
  • Part B: Authoring tools assisting authors in the regeneration of accessible content.

What is the ATAG Report Tool?

The ATAG Report Tool is an online tool used by authoring tool developers to report the authoring tool’s ATAG conformance.

When a developer uses the tool, they are guided through ATAG requirements and can record evaluation results for each requirement.

The ATAG Report Tool allows evaluators to report on the accessibility information of authoring tools.


The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0 provide the framework for authoring tool developers to follow to ensure the creation of inclusive and accessible web authoring tools for individuals with disabilities. The ATAG framework also promotes, supports, and enables more accessible web content by all authors.