How can you make an index more accessible to users with disabilities?

Enhancing the accessibility of an index in DITA documentation is crucial to ensure that users with disabilities can effectively navigate and utilize the index. Consider the following strategies to make an index more accessible:

1. Use Descriptive Index Entries

Ensure that index entries are descriptive and provide meaningful information. This helps all users, including those with disabilities, to understand the content of the indexed topics. Use concise and clear language for index entries, avoiding jargon or overly technical terms. For instance, instead of a vague entry like “FAQ,” use “Frequently Asked Questions” for better clarity.

2. Provide Alternative Text for Index Entries

Include alternative text (alt text) for index entries, especially when they contain non-text content such as images or diagrams. Alt text provides users with visual impairments a textual description of the content, allowing them to comprehend the context of the indexed topic. For example, if an index entry links to an image illustrating “Network Topology,” provide alt text like “Diagram of Network Topology.”

3. Organize the Index Structure

Organize the index structure logically and hierarchically using subentries and nested entries. A well-structured index benefits users with disabilities by providing a clear and organized way to explore topics. Group related entries together to facilitate efficient navigation. This structure is especially helpful for screen reader users who rely on the order and hierarchy of content.


Here’s an example of an accessible index entry in DITA with alt text for an image:

  <indexterm>Network Topology</indexterm>
  <indexterm>Diagram of Network Topology</indexterm>
  <indexterm>Networking Basics</indexterm>
  <indexterm>Introduction to Networking Protocols</indexterm>
  <indexterm>Security Measures</indexterm>
  <indexterm>Security Best Practices</indexterm>

In this example, the index entries are descriptive, include alt text for the image entry, and follow a logical structure.