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Is SAP Accesible? Is your BSP?

I just received an email from Brian commenting on my Accessibility and Applications article. The comments alone were extremely well received but he also turned me onto a feature that is available to BSP’s as well as other items in the SAP World.

I had not come across this item at all but now that he’s pointed it out, I’ve been spending the day reasearching it.

A simple little URL parameter that you can put on all of your URL’s that have applications using “design2003”, that parameter is called sap-accessibility=X.
So you can see there is a large difference in the resulting page. As well as the size, the page without the parameter is 23.95 KB whereas with the parameter is 30.87 KB. What is even nicer is that there is no change to the content of the page, SAP has taken care of all of this for you, whereas with my series you were doing most of the work on your own.

In order to understand more I googled the phrase sap-accessibility=X and surprisingly found only 4 references, 2 were from and the others were from right here in SDN.

Microsoft PowerPoint – PRTL205.ppt

As you can see though not much, and not much in details.

So what have we learned about this flag? This option sets an internal flag in the BSP runtime, which can be used by BSP applications to output additional information in the HTML output stream, so that screen reader programs can better present the visual information on the screen.

And of course a warning Note that setting this indicator does not make any statement about that application’s accessibility. The indicator merely indicates that additional help is required for that application.

A bit disappointed as I try to dig into this topic, so playing around with google I search now for sap-accessibility

This was quite a bit more promising I actually came up with 275 hits! Ok So most of them were from the same location the SAP Design Guild . Me, never heard of them but they do have lots of info on the subject! This is a goldmine of information and definetely worth taking a look at. They give a link to the public website as well as the internal website for SAP people.

Another link given is to the Section 508 website, this website is the result of a law passed in the US:

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an individual’s ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. ‘ 794d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others. It is recommended that you review the laws and regulations listed below to further your understanding about Section 508 and how you can support implementation.

Here you can find any and all information relating to the standards and guidelines required of the law as well as links to resources.

Let’s jump back to the original item that spawned the rest here, sap-accessibility.

What I want to express here is that even though the concepts have been around they are still new and have room for improvement. Brian stated some items in his email to me that made some sense.  For example, how often do we load up a report of table of data on a webpage and simply skip over it to the summary? Now put yourself in front of a screen reader that would normaly read each and every single line of that table before it got you to the bottom for the summary. A bit frustrating I would think. A suggestion from Brian is “to render hidden images before/after the table with hot keys that can jump over such groups of elements“, quite practical, however something that most of us developers would probably not have thought about since we tend to consider the layout and “look” of the page along with the functionalitly.

Some other thoughts and tidbits, tab sequence, a huge issue and is something everyone should consider in hopes of eliminating the use or should I say dependency of the mouse. One way to work with tabbing is by using the parameter tabindex .

However the htmlb:inputfield does not have a parameter called “tabindex” and therefore that makes things a bit more difficult, however the fields generally tend to work in sequence. The problem being what if your fields are not in sequence? What do the BSP people say, perhaps a new addition to a future SP?

As I move forward in this topic I sometimes get that feeling of being overwhelmed with information and guidelines and regulations and I think “just trash it all”! However, if you try to think about what someone with a visual disability goes through, then you realize that the frustration they might have is bar far greater than yours, in that case I can certainly try harder to understand and work with these guidelines and regulations.

Legal Disclaimer

Important to keep in mind is that this flag only works with BSP applications that use standard SAP HTMLB rendering library and run in design2003 mode. Hand written HTML or other design modes will not render out the additional support.

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