Accessibility in Adobe FrameMaker


Accessibility refers to making products usable for people with visual, auditory, motor, and other disabilities.  

Examples of accessibility features for software products include screen reader support, text equivalents for graphics, keyboard shortcuts, and change of display colors to high contrast.  

The current support for accessibility is detailed in the Adobe FrameMaker Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR). 

The ACR describes accessibility compliance for FrameMaker according to Section 508EN 301 549, and WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1.  

It can be used as a reference when authoring responsive technical and help content and publish the content as PDF and HTML5 files.

You can create help content that is compliant with Section 508 for users who have visual or hearing impairments, mobility impairments, or other types of disabilities. You can also take steps at the design level to remove obstacles for people with disabilities viewing projects created with Adobe FrameMaker.

These solutions support government agencies in meeting their users’ needs through Section 508 compliance, as well as companies who are committed to improving accessibility.

Worldwide accessibility standards

Many countries, including the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, and countries in the European Union, have adopted accessibility standards based on that developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). W3C publishes the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, a document that prioritizes actions designers should take to make web content accessible. For information about the Web Accessibility Initiative, see the W3C website at  

In the United States, the law that governs accessibility is commonly known as Section 508, which is an amendment to the U.S. Rehabilitation Act. Section 508 prohibits federal agencies from buying, developing, maintaining, or using electronic technology that is not accessible to those with disabilities. In addition to mandating standards, Section 508 allows government employees and the public to sue agencies in federal court for noncompliance.  

What is Section 508- compliance? 

Section 508 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requiring that federal agencies develop, maintain, acquire, or use electronic and information technology to make the systems accessible to people with disabilities. The most recent (1998) version of Section 508 establishes enforceable, government-wide standards. 

What is accessibility?

In general, an information technology system is accessible for people with disabilities if it can be used in various ways that do not depend on a single sense or ability. For example, users should be able to navigate with a keyboard, in addition to a mouse (not with a mouse only). Also, the visual and auditory elements of a user interface must accommodate both hearing-impaired and visually impaired users. 

What other types of assistive software do end users need? 

Screen readers or text-to-speech utilities (which read the contents of the active window, menu options, or text you have typed) and screen review aids translate on-screen text to speech or to a dynamic, refreshable, Braille display. This assistive technology can provide keyboard assistance or shortcuts, captions for speech and sound, and visual warnings such as flashing toolbars. Tools available include Windows Eye and JAWS. 

Adobe FrameMaker accessibility web page

For the latest information on creating and viewing accessible Adobe FrameMaker content, visit the Adobe FrameMaker Accessibility Overview page on the Adobe website.

Understanding Accessible Content in FrameMaker

If you want to create accessible content, the content must conform to W3C and other related regulatory guidelines, for example Section 508. These guidelines are intended to help writers produce accessible content.

As a content author, when you want to incorporate images and tables in your content, you must include text descriptions so that users using assistive technologies can access the relevant information.

If you want to create accessible content, you must provide alternate text and descriptions for all images and image maps.

In a PDF output, the authored content does not contain images of text.

Use alt-text in FrameMaker

Alt-text is different from graphics or standard text. Alt-text is typically used for describing an image so that screen readers can read it aloud.  When a screen reader encounters the graphic in the document, it will read the alt-text. 

You can define alt-text in both unstructured and structured documents.

Unstructured FrameMaker

Assign alt-text to images in FrameMaker 

To define the alt-text, you can include object attribute information for your anchored frames.

  1. Select the frame and click Insert > Anchored Frame. The Anchored Frame dialog is displayed.

  2. Click  Object Attributes.

  3. In the Text Attributes  section, add your alt-text, and then click  Set.

    Add text attributes
    Add text attributes


    To add Alt text for an image in a table, add the anchored frame inside a table.

    Assign alt-text to image maps in FrameMaker 

    Image maps on a web page are graphics with areas defined as links. You can create image maps using hotspots. In Adobe FrameMaker, a hotspot is an active area in a document that you can link to different areas of the document, to another document, or to a URL. 

    To define the tooltip text, perform the following:  

    Select the graphic and choose  Graphics > Hotspot > Hotspot Properties. The  Hotspot dialog is displayed. 

    In the Tooltip Text  section, specify a tooltip. The maximum length of the tool tip is 1023 bytes. 1023 bytes can contain 1023 single-byte characters or 511 double-byte characters.  

    Click Save.

    Edit hotspot properties
    Edit hotspot properties

Structured FrameMaker


FrameMaker uses XML as a standard for authoring structured documents. In structured authoring, alt-text can be set using the <alt> element.  

The <alt> element provides alternate text for an image. It is equivalent to the @alt attribute on the <image> element; since the @alt attribute is deprecated, use the <alt> element instead. The <alt> element can be more easily edited or translated than the @alt attribute.


<image href="print-icon.jpg"> 
  <alt>Generate the output!</alt> 


The <desc> element contains the description of the current element.


    <title>The Handshake</title> 
    <desc>This image shows two hands clasped in a formal, business-like handshake.</desc> 
    <image href="handshake.jpg"> 
         <alt>The handshake</alt> 

You can also use <desc>  element to add the description for a table. 

Export accessible documents in PDF

A tagged PDF provides the following capabilities: 

  • Ensures that information is in the correct reading order on a page. 

  • Includes paragraph attributes used to correctly reflow the document contents into devices with varying form factors.  

  • Ensures reliable translation of text into Unicode. This approach recognizes ligatures and hyphens, so that a Windows screen reader can correctly read all characters and words. 

  • Recognizes alternative text descriptions for graphics in anchored frames. 

  • Enables the document to be exported more reliably to Rich Text Format (RTF) and XML from Adobe Acrobat for reuse in other documents. 

Tagged Adobe PDF files include author content, such as pages, articles, paragraphs, tables, and graphics in anchored frames. 

For more information, see Bookmarks and tags in FrameMaker.

Best practices

  • The document must contain written descriptions of graphic objects in the document. When a screen reader encounters the graphic in the document, it will read the alternate text. Ensure that you use text that is coherent and logical.

  • Ensure that you use fonts that the display and screen reader deliver the correct characters. 

  • The published document must include navigational and organization aids, such as a table of contents and useful headings. This provides an easy way for users to navigate the document conveniently.

Логотип Adobe

Увійдіть до облікового запису