Design Help, Please




I’m in the United States, Central time, so it just turned 8 a.m. I’ll be available until 3 p.m.


My problem is this, I design help files that accompany software. I want to make sure what I design is readable to screen readers.


Having no sensory input problems, I designed the help system for such as myself. Many pages of the help system have a copy of the home screen at the top. It has hot hyperlinks over the image. Thus the viewer can see a typical home screen and select the text or button with which they want help. This enables them to quickly jump to that help page.


Now I’m going back and making these things friendly to screen readers. I know they read alt text, which means I need to break apart the image and reassemble it so each text area (which has a hyperlink on top) has its own alt text.


Not knowing how screen readers work, is that the best method? I need something that will work with the most common screen readers. If they read hyperlink text, does breaking the image apart just create more reading? Am I cluttering the audible page with this approach? Or, should I have my hyperlinks have their own tooltips? The maker of the software I use, Help and Manual, has made the offer:


Begin Quote: It's important to remember that every graphic can only have one tooltip. You can add additional tooltips with hotspot links, but they currently only have the tip in a title= attribute, not in an alt= attribute (let us know if screen readers need that as well and we'll add it). However, if you add hotspot tooltips the hotspots are not really part of the image. They are in a special "image map" that positions their clickable areas over the image. If you are going to use hotspots to implement multiple tooltips in a single graphic it would be important to test it out with current screen readers first to see how they handle them -- they would need to read the image maps in the "correct" order and respond accordingly.


--Tim Green, Monday, November 27, 2017, 5:29 p.m. End Quote


So, H&M is willing to add alt=attribute support, if it will help the screen readers process an image map better than a tiled image.


I thought I’d ask experts, since I don’t know. What do you think?


Tonea Morrow


Tonea Morrow

Technical Writer

MCSG/SAIC | Desk: 405-954-7152

MMAC: Base Maintenance Building 15

Enterprise Services Center (ESC)

6500 S. MacArthur Blvd, OKC, OK  73169

tonea.ctr.morrow@... |

Availability (appointments outside these)


7a – 5 p

If I take a lunch, I’ll be here later. If I take a kid to a doctor, I’ll be here later on Friday.


7:30 a – 3:30p


7:30 a – 3p


7:30 a – 3:30p


7:30 a – 2p



Join to automatically receive all group messages.