Tips for authoring compliant Help systems

 

While WebHelp Section 508 output is compliant for framesets and navigation, you can make sure other elements are compliant in your topics. Assistive software needs to be able to "read" elements on the screen to visually impaired users.

Generate Section 508 Compliant Output

 

In RoboHelp select File > Generate > WebHelp. Check the box labelled 508 compliant output in the additional options section of the dialog.
 
Generate Section 508 Compliant Output

 

Use these tips to help you design an accessible system:
  • Use meaningful titles when creating authorable framesets.
  • Ensure that if your Help system contains auditory elements, you provide visual equivalents (captions, subtitles, or screen tips). Alternatively, if your Help system contains visual multimedia, provide screen tips so that assistive software can read from the screen.
  • Ensure that information that uses color is also available without color. For example, active hyperlinks should rely on formatting other than a blue font color to indicate that they are active (such as bold and italics).
  • Use screen tips on buttons in forms.
  • Use basic external style sheets so that documents are readable in case the style sheet is not available (use .CSS1, the first-release style sheet rules from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)). Advanced style sheet scripting can cause problems in text if the style sheet is unavailable. Your output can lose formatting (such as large heading fonts), but it must still be readable.
  • Create screen tips (or "text labels") for any images and image maps that you add to topics so that assistive software can read the images and image links.
  • If a Web page uses applets such as RealAudio or .PDF files, include a link to the location users can download the appropriate viewer/reader.
  • Document shortcut keys and other methods of accessibility (for example, see the shortcut keys for using the WYSIWYG Editor).
  • Using HTML Help controls is not recommended in WebHelp Section 508 output. In order for users to see this feature, they must tab through all other hyperlinks in the open topic first (which might defeat the purpose of having these controls).

WebHelp features that support Section 508 compliance

 

  • A Section 508 Compliant option that provides alternative text for images, dynamic elements, frames, forms, and so on. Visually impaired users using assistive software can hear where they are in the output and what they are selecting.
  • Alternative text is provided for images of TOC books, pages, and the plus/minus icons, TOC/Search/Index tabs or panes, navigation buttons, and buttons from design-time controls.
  • Other elements with alternative text include expanding and drop-down text, triggers and targets, and pop-up menus.
  • Navigation frames that assistive software can read.
  • Generation of HTML tables so that assistive software can identify row and column headers.
  • Online forms that assistive software can read.
  • Output that more than one mode of operation and information retrieval can use. For example, mobility-impaired users can use the keyboard or mouse. No features require auditory, visual, or mobility ability alone.

Guidelines to ensure Section 508 compliance in Help systems

 

  • WebHelp is compliant for framesets and navigation. Make sure that other elements in topics are compliant.
  • If the Help system contains form buttons or multimedia elements, such as images and audio, provide visual equivalents, such as screen tips so that assistive software can read from the screen.
  • Construct information with multiple methods of access to accommodate disabilities. Offer information in color in an alternative way that doesn’t use color.
  • Use basic external style sheets so that documents are readable if the style sheet is unavailable.
  • If a web page uses applets, include a link to the location where users can download the appropriate reader.
  • Document keyboard shortcuts and other methods of accessibility. Do not use HTML Help controls.