Accessibility has to do with making sure that your documentation can be accessed by people with disabilities (i.e., individuals who have visual, hearing, and mobility impairments). Documentation is considered accessible when it is easier for those with disabilities to use and easier to read using assistive technologies such as Microsoft Windows Narrator, Connect Outloud, and Job Access With Speech (JAWS).
Following are the two primary web accessibility standards:
Section 508 In 1973 the United States government passed the Rehabilitation Act. Part of this Act is Section 508, which was amended in 1998 and requires Federal agencies to follow standards in developing, maintaining, acquiring, or using electronic and information technology to make systems accessible to people with disabilities.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) These guidelines are created by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), as part of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), in an effort to make the web accessible to people with disabilities.
Section 508 and WCAG, although similar, are not the same thing. In the United States, all Federal agencies by law must comply with Section 508. On the other hand, WCAG is a set of recommendations for making web content accessible.
Following are standards and guidelines outlined by Section 508 and WCAG. As you can see, there are some similarities between the lists.
A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via "alt", "longdesc," or in element content).
Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation.
Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup.
Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated stylesheet.
Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map.
Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape.
Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables.
Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers.
Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation.
Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.
A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a web site comply with the provisions of this part, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes.
When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology.
When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with §1194.21(a) through (l).
When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues.
A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.
When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required.
Time-based Media Provide alternatives for time-based media.
Adaptable Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
Distinguishable Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.
Keyboard Accessible Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
Enough Time Provide users enough time to read and use content.
Seizures Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.
Navigable Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.
Readable Make text content readable and understandable.
Predictable Make web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.
Input Assistance Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
Compatible Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.
By default, a new image does not contain an "alt" (alternate text) attribute when you insert it into a topic or snippet, unless you specifically add alt text in the Insert Image dialog. However, alt attributes on images are required for Section 508 compliance, even if the string is empty or null (alt=""). Also, by adding empty alt attributes to images, you can search the files to find the images without alternate text and then add it as needed.
You can use a global setting in the Options dialog. This automatically adds an empty alt tag to images when you insert them into a topic or snippet (unless you specifically add an alt tag to an image).
In addition to images, this also works for QR codes and equations, since those elements are converted to images in the output.
Following are the primary tasks in Analyzer for making Flare output accessible:
- View Accessibility Suggestions Read more… Using the Accessibility Suggestions window pane, you can view places in your project where you can make accessibility improvements for outputs in Flare. This includes the ability to identify tables that are missing certain elements and finding objects—such as images, equations, and QR codes—that are missing alternate text. See Viewing Accessibility Suggestions.
- Customize Accessibility Suggestions Shown Read more… You can use the Accessibility Suggestions Search Properties dialog to customize which types of accessibility issues to look for when analyzing Flare projects. Based on your selections in this dialog, the Accessibility Suggestions window pane updates accordingly. See Customizing Accessibility Suggestions Shown.
- Resolve Accessibility Issues Read more… When you see issues listed in the Accessibility Suggestions window pane, you can resolve them in a couple of different ways. If the issue has to do with missing alternate text, you can use the Apply Accessibility Suggestions Wizard to automatically add this to the elements in question. If the issue has to do with something else—such as missing captions, labels, or table header elements—you can fix the issue manually in the user interface. See Resolving Accessibility Issues.