Questions on Section 508 Compliance

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12 l When pages utilize scripting languages to display content or to create interface elements the. information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by. assistive technology, 13 m When a web page requires that an applet plug in or other application be present on the client. system to interpret page content the page must provide a link to a plug in or applet that complies. with 1194 21 a through l, 14 n When electronic forms are designed to be completed on line the form shall allow people. using assistive technology to access the information field elements and functionality required for. completion and submission of the form including all directions and cues. 15 o A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links. 16 p When a timed response is required the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to. indicate more time is required,Note to 1194 22, 1 The Board interprets paragraphs a through k of this section as consistent with the following priority. 1 Checkpoints of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1 0 WCAG 1 0 May 5 1999 published by. the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium. Section 1194 22 Paragraph WCAG 1 0 Checkpoint, 2 Paragraphs l m n o and p of this section are different from WCAG 1 0 Web pages that. conform to WCAG 1 0 level A i e all priority 1 checkpoints must also meet paragraphs l m n. o and p of this section to comply with this section. 2 What is the official government language regarding 508 compliance I e what does the letter. of the law say regarding 508 Compliance, Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology to make available new.
opportunities for people with disabilities and to encourage development of technologies that will help. achieve these goals Most companies and organizations that wish to make their web based application be. accessible for the visually impaired or disabled follow the technical standards defined by Section 508 of. the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Section 508 codifies those technical requirements and all Federal. agencies as well as private institutions that receive funding from or under contract with a government. agency must meet during the development procurement use and maintenance of information technology. solutions The standards defined in Section 508 are intended to give disabled users whether they are. government employees or the public comparable access to the information available to all other users. which is why so many websites and web based applications are designed to meet the standards regardless. of legal obligation,The federal mandate Section 508 standards. Section 508 of the U S Rehabilitation Act prohibits federal agencies from buying developing. maintaining or using electronic and information technology that is inaccessible to people with. disabilities Although Section 508 was enacted more than 14 years ago little progress was made until. 1998 when Congress passed the Workforce Investment Act amending the law to give members of the. public and government employees with disabilities the right to sue agencies in federal court and file. administrative complaints for noncompliance,The amended Section 508 requires that. electronic and information technology allows Federal employees with disabilities to have access to. and use of information and data that is comparable to the access to and use of information and data by. Federal employees who are not individuals with disabilities unless an undue burden would be imposed. on the agency,Section 508 also requires that, individuals with disabilities who are members of the public seeking information or services from a. Federal agency have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to the. public who are not individuals with disabilities unless an undue burden would be imposed on the. While applying legal leverage to agencies Section 508 also uses government buying power to pressure. companies to produce accessible products Section 508 standards will become part of the Federal. Acquisition Regulation and other federal laws that govern agency buying Simply put companies. will no longer be able to sell federal agencies any software or hardware that fails to meet. accessibility standards, For more than two years federal agencies have been working together to realize the goal of fully. accessible federal websites To coordinate training and offer technical assistance regarding Section 508. the Federal Access Board and the General Services Administration created the Federal Information. Technology Accessibility Initiative FITAI s website is a gateway for information regarding this topic. Noted below are FITIA s interpretations of the portions of Section 508 that relate to web accessibility. Web based intranet and Internet information and applications 1194 22. The criteria for web based technology and information are based on access guidelines developed by the. Web Accessibility Initiative of the W3C Many of these provisions ensure access for people with vision. impairments who rely on various assistive products such as screen readers which translate the contents. of a computer screen into automated audible output and refreshable Braille displays to access computer. based information Certain conventions such as verbal tags or graphic identification and format devices. like frames are necessary so that these devices can read them for the user in a sensible way. The standards do not prohibit the use of website graphics or animation Instead they aim to ensure that. such information is also available in an accessible format Generally this means the use of text labels or. descriptors for graphics and certain format elements HTML code already provides an Alt text tag for. graphics that can serve as a verbal descriptor for graphics This section also addresses the usability of. multimedia presentations image maps style sheets scripting languages applets plug ins and electronic. Section 508 mandates that Federal agencies that develop procure use and maintain electronic and. information technology do so in a way that will assure comparable access to that technology to the groups. indicated above unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency Thus it aims to make. software and other technology more accessible to people with certain disabilities assuring that a greater. number of people are fully able to participate in the Federal workforce and a greater number of citizens. are able to access and use government electronic information While Section 508 only governs. procurement for the Federal Government its standards are widely expected to influence most software. that is produced and sold in the coming years, 3 How do agencies of the Federal Government make their websites 508 compliant.
Design For Usability Achieve Accessibility, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is in place to guarantee that disabled users of a given. website can access the same information as all other users There s no guarantee that disabled users will. be able to actually use the website efficiently and effectively. Below are a few simple tips to remember when designing for usability will also help accessibility include. Don t rely on color as a differentiating factor, At this point many users are familiar with color coded alerts and stoplights It s intuitive to many. that red means danger or stop and green means safe or go Unfortunately for a disabled. user of your website for example someone with color blindness differentiating red yellow. and green icons might not be possible For example in Figure 1 the availability of Apple s. iPhone is indicated on a per store basis solely by the color of the stop light. Figure 1 Using Color As The Sole Indicator, While the availability indicated in this image may have been intuitive many it s not even. necessarily readable to an individual with color blindness Rather than just relying on green vs. red Figure 2 shows a more accessible and useable representation of the same information from. another website,Figure 2 Using Color and Other Indicators. Figure 2 is a much better usability and accessibility decision There is no mistaking that there are. two states in stock vs out of stock because the icons are not only two different colors they are. two different shapes, Use contextual and descriptive text for links and buttons.
By using descriptive text for links and buttons as described in the simple example above your. website moves closer to being Section 508 compliant For example a disabled user who is. visiting the website with a text reader is not going to have the visual clue that the Read More. link is directly below a huge block of text about XYZ s Solution What happens if there are. multiple Read More links on the same page Changing the links to say Read More About. XYZ s Solution and Read More About Working For XYZ Corporation is inherently more. usable and accessible for all users Not only does using contextual and descriptive text for links. and buttons make your site more usable it will likely help with your search engine ranking. Use text not images in page titles and navigational elements. In order to provide compelling page titles and navigational cues to the user these elements were. often stored as images with different images being presented on mouse roll over or when the. node was active With the advent of CSS background images and other more advanced styling. techniques for web pages using images for page titles and navigational elements is now all but. obsolete and when employed it presents usability and accessibility issues Not only will a text. reader not be able to read and interpret the images for disabled users maintaining and updating. these images becomes a potential nightmare for your website administrators. A robust content management system will allow business users to create and maintain the. navigational hierarchy without IT department support Figure 3 shows an example of a page title. bread crumbing and menus that don t use images,Figure 3 Text Based Page Elements. Instead of using images for these page elements simply rendering text over backgrounds looks. just as great as using images and makes updates relatively painless for content authors In this. example the business user is able to perform changes without having to call up the resident. Photoshop expert to get a new image ready to go,Use Templated Authoring To Your Advantage. When you use a content management system with templated authoring such as EMC. Documentum s Web Publisher to administer your WCM solution you inherently gain the power. to change one template and apply those changes to all the relevant instances of content While. designing the clients Web Publisher based solutions a few common patterns repeatedly appear. in the website markup that can be easily applied to all pages thanks to templated authoring These. little tweaks to your markup will not only result in a more usable site for all visitors but will help. your solution achieve Section 508 compliance,Include a link to skip the navigation. Imagine your favorite e commerce site with 10 tabs across the top of the website and an. additional 5 or more submenu options that appear every time you mouse over one of those tabs. Each one of those 10 tabs and 5 dropdown options is HTML that will be read by the text reader. on every single page load If you re not visually impaired it s hard to fathom listening to a site. reader read back 50 or more navigational elements before you even find out that the product page. you re viewing isn t the right product While it s easy enough for most sighted users to focus. immediately on the body of the page and skip the global navigation the same is not true of. disabled persons using a site reader By including a link to the meat of the page at the very top of. every page a visually impaired user can quickly jump over the navigation It s just common. courtesy and good practice to give every visitor to your website a quick path to the heart of every. Include descriptions for all site assets, One of the most important provisions of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is that all. images must have alternate text descriptions While it may be obvious that regular content images. need these descriptions it s easy to overlook all those site assets like spacer images and logos. but they too must have descriptions During construction of your presentation files set the alt. attribute for the img tag appropriately For blank images used as spacers an alt is perfectly. acceptable for Section 508 compliance,Design for device independence.
It s easy to forget that not every user is visiting your website with a mouse Quickly check all. your markup files for device specific references such as onMouseOver and change them to. device independent instances such as onFocus,Design for CSS and JavaScript independence. Cascading Style Sheets CSS and JavaScript are a wonderful way to make your website look. great Unfortunately looking great doesn t help visually impaired visitors using a text reader or. users on browsers with limited functionality Wireless devices console gaming systems etc. It is important to design your presentation files to render content in a readable usable manner. without CSS and JavaScript By creating your solution so the markup and content renders in a. readable format before the application of CSS and JavaScript you can ensure accessibility for all. Questions on Section 508 Compliance 1 What does it mean for an application defined as web based intranet and internet information and applications to be 508 compliant Section 508 applies to any information being distributed electronically It includes but it not limited to Web Pages Desktop Software e g SciFinder Pro LMS systems Documents e g doc files pfd files Presentations

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