Improve authoring tools
Many of the accessibility errors on the web are accidentally produced by unsuspecting content editors. With the right processes and tools in place, we can make it easier to produce accessible content—and harder to publish inaccessible content.
To start to address this issue, the EU recently commissioned Funka—a Swedish accessibility firm—to conduct a pilot called We4Authors on web authoring tools, producers and communities. The pilot evaluated several different Content Management Systems (CMS), including Drupal, to find ways to increase accessible publishing practices. What became clear, is that CMSs are currently contributing more to the problem than most are aware, by overlooking providing authors with support they need to produce accessible content. Many errors are a result of author inputs in the WYSIWYG editor (TinyMCE, CKEditor, etc), and most web authors are not accessibility experts and so do not know the best practices to publish accessible content in their CMS. Most authors are not accessibility experts, and few have the time to go through the additional steps necessary to create accessible content.
We4Authors demonstrates that many content producers and suppliers claim to deliver accessible content, many just don't understand accessibility. To make matters worse, CMSs are often not built from the author's perspective, which makes it hard to create accessible content and forces authors to navigate unintuitive publishing interfaces. Having a pleasant authoring experience isn't just a perk—it can greatly facilitate the production of accessible content—but unfortunately it's usually overlooked.
The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0—a W3C Recommendation in 2015—is the most comprehensive approach to address the accessibility of authoring tools. Part A of the guidelines addresses the authoring interface to ensure that it too meets WCAG requirements, and Part B aligns directly with the goal of supporting authors in producing accessible content.
Drupal 8 has worked to achieve many elements of both parts for ATAG 2.0 AA. More than any other popular CMS, Drupal's authoring environment is well-positioned to support authors with disabilities. Drupal has also implemented many measures to update the authoring experience and ensure more inclusive patterns are available to authors by default.
ATAG 2.0 Part B identifies where a CMS can help authors create more accessible content. This doesn't remove the need for training, but should make it easier for people to implement best practices consistently. Government employees can't all be expected to be accessibility experts, but we can and must provide them with the right tools for creating accessible content.
- Work to see that the authoring interface is accessible.
- Feature ATAG 2.0 requirements as part of new technology procurement.
- Simplify the authoring interface to make it easier for authors to make accessible content.
- Include links to accessibility guidelines in help text where appropriate.
- Are alt texts required? Can this be over-ridden for decorative images?
- Are heading tags used semantically to describe the structure of the content?
- Are authors given help on how to create accessible content (ie. how to write good alt text)?