Pendo Guides & Accessibility
April 18, 2017
Any piece of software that is delivered to or used by the U.S. Federal government is required to be 508C compliant. Section 508 deals with accessibility requirements for technology that derive from the Americans with Disabilities Act. Compliance requires making the content within the application interface consumable by users in a number of alternate formats to allow users with disabilities can understand and interact with the application interface.
As Pendo guides are rendered as a part of the user interface, application interfaces requiring 508C compliance should author guides which meet the requirements. There are three basic tenets of accessibility that cover most of the 508C standards for compliance: Perceivability, Operability, and Understandability.
Perceivability speaks to the ability of all of the application interface content to be accessible to assistive technologies such as auditory or braille screen readers. This primarily covers visual or other multimedia (video / animation) portions of the application interface. For compliance, any images or embedded media should provide alternative text or text-based descriptions.
Assistive technologies, such as screen readers, should treat guide content as part of the application interface content. Rendered guides are part of the DOM of the application interface and should use the same standards as in the application interface. For example, the following code demonstrates the use of the “alt” attribute of the <img> tag.
Make sure that alternative text for images and other media is always provided
Alternative text like this allows screen readers to capture descriptions for images or diagrams that might not be visible to the user, so it’s important not only to provide alternative text, but to make sure that the alternative text is meaningful for any multimedia elements of your guides.
Operability looks at functions and interactions of the application interface. The Section 508 standards specify that any user action or input for the application interface must be accessible via the keyboard or other assistive technologies.
Pendo guides often have interactive content such as buttons, links and form elements. Any standards applied to interactive content in the application interface should apply to guide content as well. These standards may include focus behavior, keyboard shortcuts, or tab behavior. All interactive guide content may be accessible via default DOM behavior.
Although guide buttons, forms, and links may be accessible, the order in which the guide elements are selected can be different from where the guide appears visually on the page. The guide content may be interpreted as positioned at the “end” of the application interface. The following example demonstrates automatically shifting the focus to an interactive element inside guide content.
A line of code like this will automatically place the page focus on a guide when it launches
Other options such as the “tabindex” HTML property can improve the guide experience for users of accessibility tools.
Understandability basically asks the question about whether a user will be able to understand the content in the application interface. Does the application override any font, color, or contrast settings that the user has set? If some text, or portion of the application scrolls automatically or is timed, can this be paused? Are there any elements in the interface that flash or blink? These questions will help determine if the application meets accessibility standards.
Pendo guides inherit most styling of the application interface, but also comes with default styling. Pendo users can modify Pendo guide content styles to meet the standards of the application interface including accessibility standards.
Making Guides Accessible
This article covers usability topics at a high level but should not be considered a definitive accessibility resource. The U.S. Government 508 standards and the W3C web accessibility initiative provide detailed documentation, examples, and tests that you can use to assess an application interface. Pendo guide content can meet accessibility standards, but like the other content in the application interface needs to be designed and coded appropriately.
Pendo users that are interested in ensuring the accessibility of Pendo elements in their interface, should make sure to test any Pendo content along with the rest of their interface – whether that testing is completed offline or online. Pendo does not screen or test guides for accessibility issues.