Lotus Domino and designing for accessibility (Show’n Tell Thursday)

July 15th, 2006

I have just completed a project with the purpose of modifying an existing web site based on Lotus Domino to make it accessible - that is to allow access to people with disabilities. The changes to the web site makes it usable to for example a person with visual disabilities who can use a screen reader such as IBM Home Page Reader to have the web site read and navigate using the keyboard only.

In the US it is required by law that all US federal agencies make their information technology accessible to their employees and customers with disabilities. This is stated in section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998.

The Lotus Notes Application Accessibility Checklist is a valuable checklist with specific information on how to make your Lotus Notes client application and Lotus Domino web application compliant with section 508. The following is one of the many checks to go through when designing for accessibility:

  • "Associate labels with editable fields on forms using field help or HTML TITLE".
    This involves applying the <label> tag to all editable fields and relating the tags to the ID of each editable field.

If you want to apply the <label> tag to a field with no associated label text then you can apply the <label> tag around a hidden descriptive label text by surrounding the label text with <>. This creates a descriptive label text for the field that a screen reader can read. The following example shows how to do this:
<label for="examplefieldID"><example field description></label>

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