Provide documentation on all accessibility features, including keyboard access.
People with disabilities cannot effectively use the software if they cannot access information on how to use accessibility features. This is particularly important for keyboard access. Since most products focus on navigation with the mouse, it is not always clear how to use the product with the keyboard. All keyboard navigation which does not follow documented system conventions must be documented.
The following techniques are the minimum required to meet Checkpoint 2 from the IBM Documentation Accessibility Checklist:
- Provide a section where all accessibility features are documented. This includes documenting unique user preferences which can be set in the software to enhance accessibility. The online help documentation in Lotus Notes is a good example of this technique.
- Provide a section where unique keyboard accessibility features are documented. This includes keyboard shortcut keys which are unique to your application. If the software uses standard system keyboard commands for navigation, they do not have to be documented. The keyboard accessibility information could also be included as part of the general accessibility section.
- Accelerator keys or mnemonics refer to the underlined characters in menus and dialogs such as F for File. These keys are "self-documenting" in the menus. No additional documentation of the feature is required.
- When the software provides instructions for completing tasks using the mouse, include the instructions for doing those tasks using the keyboard if the keyboard instructions are unique. For example, to create a new memo in Lotus Notes, someone using the mouse opens the mail and clicks the "New Memo" button. These instructions are not sufficient for a keyboard user since the "new memo" button cannot be accessed in a standard method. The equivalent keyboard command is Alt + number where number is the number displayed for the "new memo" action. Both must be documented since there is a unique method to create a new mail memo with the keyboard.
The techniques above are required; the following techniques are recommended to enhance accessibility:
- Include a keyword search and help topic item for accessibility.
- Document shortcut keys in the software by adding the information next to the command in the pull-down menu. For example, to document the shortcut key for Print, add Ctrl+P next to the Print command in the File pull-down menu.
- Provide a "Keys Help" item in the Help menu to provide quick access to the keyboard accessibility information.
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Test the software to ensure that it complies with accessibility requirements. Several techniques are available to verify that accessibility information is documented.
- If the software does not use standard keyboard access or does not support the accessibility options available in the operating system, the accessibility features must be documented. Open the software documentation and verify there is a section which discusses accessibility features in the product.
- If the software provides unique keyboard access, verify those keyboard commands are documented.
- If the software provides unique accessibility features, verify those features are documented.
- If the product provides "how to" instructions or pop-up help, verify that instructions for performing the actions using the keyboard are available in addition to instructions for using the mouse.
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Last updated September 1, 2007