Inclusive Technical Writing
by Bradley Nice, Content Manager at ClickHelp — all-in-one help authoring tool
‘Section 508 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The document requires Federal agencies to make their ICT such as technology, websites, and online training accessible for everyone. The main goal of Section 508 is to provide employees with disabilities with the accessible environment, so they can do their work on the accessible computers, equipment in their offices, phones, and take online training or access the agency’s internal website to locate needed information’.
This document launched the creation of WCAG — Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
‘These guidelines help to make content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including hearing and deafness loss, low vision and blindness, cognitive limitations, learning disabilities, limited movement, speech disabilities, etc.
Due to these documents, the terms ‘accessible’ and ‘inclusive’ have become so prominent in everything that is related to the IT sector and computers that it is impossible not to talk about them. They are quite close to each other on the one hand but on the other hand, have different meanings. ‘Accessible’ means easy to approach by as many people as possible. ‘Inclusive’ means including as many people as possible, not excluding those who, for some reason (physical or mental disabilities), might be excluded. We all know what is to be accessible and inclusive when we talk about website design, UX, UI, and other notions of this kind. You can read my posts ‘Accessibility Tips for Your Website’ and ‘Principles of Inclusive Web Design’ to find more information. But how do these notions show up in the sphere of technical writing?
Years ago, when we had no computers and other devices, technical communication used to be less audience-oriented, and it did not have such an impact on society. Today, with the use of online services and the Internet social justice approach has appeared in technical communication: technical documentation is meant for everyone without taking into consideration social background, physical, or mental abilities. Thus technical communication should exist in all kinds of social context. The article ‘Importance of Accessibility in Technical Writing’ will tell you more about that.
In other words, the majority of rules that are applied to websites and apps are relevant for online documentation:
- Smart color combinations
- The use of keyboard
- Resizable text
- The ability to use screenreaders
- Accessible dynamic content
- and other ones.
That is why it is so important for a technical writer to find a software documentation tool that will help them make their technical docs inclusive and accessible. And I am very proud to say that ClickHelp contributes to providing better accessibility according to both standards — Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 Level AA. It allows using screenreaders for navigation, both keyboard and mouse, representing the information in various color combinations, and many other things that you can check in ClickHelp Accessibility.
Have a nice day!
Bradley Nice, Content Manager at ClickHelp.com — best online documentation tool for SaaS vendors