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Satisfying accessibility requirements in composite portals (6.1)

Updated on September 14, 2020
Note: This article is not compatible with Pega Platform™ 8.1 and later.


In version 6.1, composite portals include important features that help developers satisfy accessibility requirements for the applications they deploy.

The PegaWAI RuleSet provides accessibility features for access groups that need them, without changing the portal experience for other groups.



Composite portals, as well as being simpler to maintain, adapt, and deploy than traditional portals, provide many features that simplify the creation of accessible programs. These features include:

  • Simplified navigation. Users can proceed from field to field and link to link by tabbing, and can move from section to section in the portal using the shortcut keys provided by their assistive device, or by using the keyboard arrow keys.
  • Automated labeling. Standard portal components automatically have label fields that can be read by assistive devices.
  • Update warnings. The portal warns a user for whom accessibility features are activated whenever an action will cause a major change to the current screen, or will require the user to refresh the screen.
  • Reports in accessible composite portals appear in tabular form, rather than graphically, for those using assistive devices.
  • Accessible style sheets. Composite portals use a style sheet with color schemes and fonts that enhance reading for color-blind users or those needing very large fonts.
  • Alternative controls enable those using the accessibility features to "drag and drop" from list to list, select items in a drop-down list, or delete items from a list.

V5.5+ includes two sample composite portals: User and Manager. You can use these portals unchanged, or adapt them to your users' expectations and your application's requirements.

When you use composite portals, your users who do not need assistive devices or visual aids to use your program experience the portals with colors, fonts, and other settings that you can modify in your application's custom skin. Users who use assistive devices experience the portals with modifications to the controls, colors, and fonts which reduce barriers to their working with your application. This happens without you having to write additional code or maintain parallel portal dropdown menustructures, when you add the PegaWAI RuleSet and create an access group that takes advantage of it.

For example, your worker portal may have a drop-down menu control where the user creating a new work object can select its type, as in the image at right. Drop-down menus presume the user is operating a computer mouse, and can move the mouse cursor up and down the list before clicking to make a selection.

People using assistive devices can have difficulty with such controls, as the menu can interpret a move of the cursor as a selection. The PegaWAI RuleSet displays the portal, including its drop-down menu, in higher-contrast colors and with a clearer font, and it changes the behavior of the menu. When the user enabled dropdown menutabs to the menu control, it opens and displays its options. The user makes a selection, using the controls of the assistive device or the up and down arrows on the standard keyboard. The user then tabs to the next control, a Go button only visible to users in the access group using the PegaWAI RuleSet, and clicks it to make the menu selection.

The standard search tool in composite portals lets the user enter a text string and then limit the search to a subset of work objects:

search options

search choicesFor users in the accessibility access group, the search limitation options appear as selectable links, as at right. The behavior of the search gadget is the same, although its look is substantially different.

For a final example, see the date picker control as it appears for users accessing a portal without assistive devices:

date picker

Since an assistive device has difficulty manipulating this control, for those using such devices your application displays the same control broken into subcontrols that can be manipulated using the device or using keyboard up and down arrows to make selections:

accessible date picker

  • Previous topic Make sure your application conforms to accessibility guidelines
  • Next topic Setting accessibility configuration options

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