The Help Tech website was designed keeping the visually impaired in mind. Design steps have been taken to make the website accessible for visually impaired people who do use screen reader and enlargement software to browse the web. This means closely following W3C, Bobby and other accessibility guidelines, testing the site carefully, and being open to feedback.
Interface controls and content updates are often not accessible to screen reader users and those who cannot use a mouse or other pointing device. The Help Tech webpage is mapped with WAI-ARIA Landmarks to overcome this problem. Unfortunately, the W3C validator is not able to read WAI-ARIA Landmarks, yet. This leads to error messages when a webpage is validated by W3C.
To resize text and improve accessibility for those who do not own a screen enlargement software, on-screen '+' and '-' buttons are available at the top of any Help Tech webpage.
Both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox have incorporated built-in options that will assist with browsing websites that are not adapted to meet a visually impaired computer user's needs. In the Internet Explorer, you can choose the View menu, Text Size option to change text size. (The keyboard shortcut is Alt-V, X). Other browsers are likely to have the same or similar options. To zoom in and out of the entire page, hold down the Ctrl key and use the plus (+) and minus (-) keys, or scroll the mouse wheel if you have one. For Macintosh users, use the Cmd key and '+' or '-' to quickly change font size.
Many visually impaired people find reading easier when the text and background colors are enhanced. The Help Tech website supports four color schemes: white-on-black, black-on-white, green-on-black, and yellow-on-blue. Simply choose a preferred combination that works best for you and all pages on the Help Tech website will be displayed in the color scheme you have chosen. To reset to the default color scheme, simply use the “Reset to standard” button on the top of the page or hit the “Set Text Color” button as many time until the text is displayed in black-on-white again.
For visually impaired it can be useful to have the text read out aloud. Therefore Help Tech offers a Read-Aloud function, which does not require a screen reader. Simply click the button "Listen" on the right side of the screen, just underneath the banner. The sentence as well as the word which is read is highlighted by a different color. Right to the "Listen" button you find the symbol of a musical note "Download text as MP3". With this function you can convert this page into MP3 file. After saving it you can listen to it later by using a MP3 player.
To Internet users who find it difficult to see on-screen information, shortcuts to important links and designated access-keys, are a big plus to navigate on a webpage.
To use these access keys, hold down the ALT key and press the appropriate access key. In Firefox, this will automatically lead you to the link address. With the Internet Explorer, and most other browsers, this action will only highlight the link, to move to the link’s address, you will need to confirm it by pressing the Enter key.
The Help Tech website supports the following access keys:
- ALT + 1 + ENTER - Home page
- ALT + 2 + ENTER - Skip to main content
- ALT + 3 + ENTER - Skip to sub-menu
- ALT + 4 - Search (no ENTER, and you can then type straight into the Search box)
- ALT + 0 + ENTER - Skip to Footer Navigation
- SHIFT + ALT + 1 - Home page
- SHIFT + ALT + 2 - Skip to main content
- SHIFT + ALT + 3 - Skip to sub-menu
- SHIFT + ALT + 4 - Search (you can then type straight into the Search box)
- SHIFT + ALT + 0 - Skip to Footer Navigation
Web Site Page Structure
The Help Tech website was designed to be consistent in its layout. Once you have found your way around a single page, you should find that most other pages can be accessed in the same fashion. The Points of consistency include:
- All Help Tech website pages have a main menu at the top of the document. Choose one of the links and it will take you onto that page of the website.
- Apart of the "Welcome", the „Sitemap” and this page, after the Menu, all pages have a Sub-Menu with 6 Titles max. Simply follow the link to view the respective page content.
- The main content of a page usually starts at the first heading on a page. When you use a screen reader, you can choose a heading you want to know more about, from a list. Without a screen reader, simply use the "skip to main content" function.
- All Menu and Sub-Menu titles have descriptions to point out the page content more clearly. You can access these by telling your screen reader to use Mouse-overs, or you can move the mouse over the link and the longer descriptions will appear in a pop-up window which disappears when you move the mouse away.
- To allow users to keep track of their location within the Help Tech website, there is a breadcrumb trail after the sub-menu.
- All photographs and images of relevance have an appropriate alternative text description that can be read out by your screen reader. Move the mouse over a picture and the description will pop-up in a small, separate frame.
If you have suggestions on how to improve the Help Tech website, please contact Help Tech.