In the first of a series of posts, I wanted to point out some of the great reviews written recently regarding Flare 7. In an excerpt from “Streamlining Your Workflow with Flare 7,” Eddie VanArsdall discusses the new accessibility features and enhancements in Flare 7.
Excerpt from the VanArsdall InfoDesign blog:
Accessibility features and enhancements
While Flare has always included features to support web accessibility requirements and standards, Flare 7 takes accessibility to a new level.
All Flare targets (output configuration files) for WebHelp and PDF now include a Warnings tab for accessibility checking. If you turn on the warnings, the Flare compiler will check for accessibility problems during a project build.
The compiler identifies and reports the following types of problems:
• Images, equations, and QR codes that are missing an alt text attribute
• Tables that have no caption or summary
• Tables without a header row
• Form elements with missing labels
• Frame elements without a title or name.
You can click the compiler’s Save Log button to save a date-stamped log to the Reports folder in your Flare project. With the log file open, you can double-click on any row to open the corresponding file that produced the message.
Missing alt text attributes are a common accessibility issue. Unless you have added screen tip and alt text to an imported image before inserting the image into multiple topics, some instances of that image may not include the attributes. Fortunately, Flare 7 includes a time-saving feature that automates the process of inserting screen tip and alt text attributes in multiple instances of an image:
1. Open any topic that references the image.
2. Select the image.
3. Right-click and select Edit Picture.
4. In the Edit Picture window, follow these steps:
a. Add the Screen Tip and Alt Text attributes.
b. Check the box labeled Apply the alternate text and screen tip to all image references.
c. Click OK.
Flare applies the attributes to all instances of the same image.
During PDF compilation, Flare automates the following conversions for accessibility:
• Converts each alt text attribute to its PDF equivalent so that a screen reader can properly describe each image.
• Converts XML lang attributes to their PDF equivalent for the entire PDF file and for any languages that may be applied to specific XHTML elements.
• Converts table structures to their PDF equivalent so that screen readers can properly read them.
The PDF target includes a PDF Options tab, with some options that duplicate certain settings found in Adobe Distiller and Acrobat (such as Image Compression and Initial View). You will also find a Generate tagged PDF setting, which enables you to generate the PDF build with structured tagging. The tagging is similar to the structure of the source XHTML files in your project. Although PDF tagging increases the file size, it is required for making a PDF file accessible to screen readers. If you have ever post-processed a PDF file to add tagging, you will appreciate the automation that Flare now offers.