Checkpoint 504.2: Content Creation or Editing

Authoring tools shall provide a mode of operation to create or edit content that conforms to Level A and Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements in WCAG 2.0 for all supported features and, as applicable, to file formats supported by the authoring tool. Authoring tools shall permit authors the option of overriding information required for accessibility.


If a product provides the ability for users to author content, the output from the authoring tool must be verified against all checkpoints in the WCAG section of the checklist.

What constitutes an authoring tool?

Section 508 defines an authoring tool as:

"Any software, or collection of software components, that can be used by authors, alone or collaboratively, to create or modify content for use by others, including other authors."

Generally, any application or website that offers an ability for authors or end users to create rich text content is considered to include authoring tool functionality. A comment mechanism on a page which offered only an ability to include text with no styling would not be considered an authoring tool. However, any such comment mechanism that allowed for text styling (bold, italics or headings) or the inclusion of actionable elements like hyperlinks would be considered an authoring tool.

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (ATAG) provide examples of software that are generally considered authoring tools, including "software for rapidly updating portions of web pages" (e.g., online forums and wikis).

"A mode of operation"

The U.S. Access Board has clarified that they only require one accessible mode of operation which need not be the main mode of operation. So where an application offers mutliple formats for authored content output, only one of these formats needs to be accessible to meet 504.2.

"For all supported features"

The output need only support accessibility to the degree it is possible for that format. So if the format does not support multimedia, all the time-based media checkpoints would be Not Applicable (N/A). To use an extreme example, if an application offered the ability to author a plain-text document, this would meet 504.2 as long as the document used standard text formatting conventions for paragraphs, lists and headings. In such a situation, almost all WCAG checkpoints (except potentially 1.3.1, 1.3.3 and 2.4.6) would be N/A, since they are not supported in plain text documents.

Exception: Authoring tools shall not be required to conform to 504.2 when used to directly edit plain text source code.

Note: The Authoring Tools section of the checklist is concerned with the creation of accessible content. As such, the checkpoints are focused on the output of the tool, and on features to promote the creation of accessible output. See the "Revised 508 Authoring Tools Checkpoints" section of Using the IBM Accessibility Checklist.

Most links in this checklist reside outside at the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. W3C Recommendation 11 December 2008:

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