2.11 Describe the purpose of frames and how they relate to each other if it is not obvious by their titles alone
WAI checkpoint 12.2
Full WAI text: "Describe the purpose of frames and how frames relate to each other if it is not obvious by frame titles alone."
Frames allow the designer to break a web page into different pieces, each containing a different HTML file. Frames are often used to break the page into two sections - one containing information which does not change through the site and the other containing more dynamic information. A typical example is where the main navigation for a site is presented in a frame on the left side of the page, while content is presented in another frame on the right.
In this case, the navigation links are held in one HTML file on the left of the page while the content is held in another HTML file, the contents of which depend on the link selected from the left frame. Clicking a link in the frame on the left essentially causes a new page to open in the right hand frame.
Each frame should have a title, even though this is not displayed visually. If the titles of frames used to present a web page do not clearly explain the structural order or relationship between them and the nature of their contents, this information should be provided elsewhere.
Users of older browsers or screen readers have difficulty in navigating web pages that use frames. They can't read all of the frames in a page at once and are therefore can't envisage the page structure. When these users open a page with frames, they are presented with a list of the frames that make up the page. The list shows the frame titles. The user must then navigate each frame individually, a frustrating task if the frame titles are confusing. If that happens, the user is forced to open each frame individually, review the content and then try to figure out how it relates to the other frames on the page.
For example, they may see a frame titled "nav". This is not very informative. If this frame's title said "links to the main site sections" it would be more useful.
Directions and Techniques
Describe frame relationships in the underlying HTML
Frame relationships and the nature of the contents of frames can be described in the underlying HTML which means that this information will be displayed in browsers which don't support frames. See WAI recommended techniques for describing frame relationships
How you could check for this:
Test the page with a browser with no support for frames
Open the page with a browser like Lynx, which will not display frames. This will show you how the page is presented when frames are not supported. If you see a list of frame titles and the purpose and relationship between these is not clear, consider adding a description.