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Frames

Document Type: Standard


Content:

HHS should not use frames on its Web pages.


Reason:

Frames are meta-documents that that can display multiple HTML documents in a single browser window.  Frame-based pages inhibit accessibility and navigation for the user, and are problematic with screen readers for the visually impaired.  Frames-based pages also impose limitations to the design of a site by specifying prescribed borders, with limited flexibility.


Exemptions:

Exemptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis. If a Web-based application, e.g., a statistical program that allows manipulating various complex variables, would benefit significantly from the use of frames, then the use of frames may be allowed.  If frames are approved:

  • They must comply with Section 508 requirements, including the frame titles and navigation.
  • They should be presented side-by-side.
  • There should be no more than three frames on a page and preferably should be only two frames on a page.

Example:

Multi-variable charting applications are one example of an acceptable use of frames.  The map of the US in the right frame is controlled by the menu selections in the left frame.  As such, the left frame remains fixed while the right frame regenerates based upon the user-defined selections in the left frame.  Such use of frames allows users to continually view the menu selections, avoiding use of the Back button when changing selections.


Sources:

  • Horton, 2005; Koyani, 2001a; Horton 2005; Nielsen, 1996a; Nielsen, 1999b; Spool, et al., 1997.