TOP TEN LIST OF FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Information Technology Resources
On December 21, 2000, the Access Board, an independent federal agency, issued final accessibility standards for electronic and information technology under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act as amended in 1998. The standards require that electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities. The regulations, which take effect June 21, 2001, also apply to federal web sites and purchases of electronic equipment, including computers, software and photocopiers.
Perhaps the best introduction to issues surrounding Section 508 is “The Growing Digital Divide in Access for People with Disabilities: Overcoming Barriers to Participation in the Digital Economy” by Cynthia Waddell. This paper cites 102 references and summarizes the legal challenges and technical procedures for addressing electronic accessibility among the disabled.
1 The Growing Digital Divide in Access for People with Disabilities: Overcoming Barriers to Participation in the Digital Economy
1 An Overview of Law and Policy for IT Accessibility: A Resource for State and Local IT Policy Makers
1 Oregon State University Section 508 and Assistive Technology Act Briefing Sheet
1 Access Board Questions & Answers about Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1998
The Assistive Technology Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-394)
Federal IT Accessibility Initiative
Technology-Based Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988
Technology-Based Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 as Amended in 1994
The federal Access Board is the authoritative source for Section 508 accessibility standards. The WebAIM organization at Utah State University has done an excellent job of relating those standards to institutions of higher education.
The standards themselves define the types of technology covered and set forth provisions that establish a minimum level of accessibility. The application section (1194.2) outlines the scope and coverage of the standards. The standards cover the full range of electronic and information technologies, including those used for communication, duplication, computing, storage, presentation, control, transport and production. This includes computers, software, networks, peripherals and other types of electronic office equipment. The standards define electronic and information technology, in part, as "any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment, that is used in the creation, conversion, or duplication of data or information."
The standards provide criteria specific to various types of technologies, including:
· software applications and operating systems
· web-based information or applications
· telecommunication products
· video and multimedia products
· self contained, closed products (e.g., information kiosks, calculators, and fax machines)
· desktop and portable computers
The standards also provide technical specifications and performance-based requirements that focus on the functional capabilities of covered technologies. The performance requirements are intended for overall product evaluation and for technologies or components for which there is no specific requirement under the technical standards. They cover operation, including input and control functions, operation of mechanical mechanisms, and access to visual and audible information.
Finally, the standards address access to all information, documentation, and support provided to end users of covered technologies. This includes user guides, installation guides for end-user installable devices, and customer support and technical support communications.
1 U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Letters of June 30, 1999 and April 21, 2000, and Questions and Answers about Section 508. (Hardcopy only)
1 Access Board Standards for Electronic and Information Technology: An Overview
1 Access Board Final Standards for Electronic and Information Technology
WebAIM Guidelines for Higher Education Institutions for Web Accessibility and Universality
The case law is ongoing. There are no definitive judgments that apply to higher education. The Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has jurisdiction over complaints filed on campuses. The courts have held that a public entity violates its obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act when it simply responds to individual requests for accommodation on an ad-hoc basis. A public entity has an affirmative duty to establish a comprehensive policy in compliance with Title II in advance of any request for auxiliary aids or services [see Tyler v. City of Manhattan, 857 F. Supp. 800 (D. Kan. 1994)]. A recognized good practice in establishing such a comprehensive policy is to consult with the disability community, especially those members most likely to request accommodations. In another case, Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama et al. v. Garrett et al., courts have held that plaintiffs can sue for injunctive relief but not punitive damages in general ADA matters. In February 2001, the US Supreme Court held that state employees could not sue the state under federal ADA law (Title I), although they still could sue under applicable state laws. The California Community Colleges have been involved in a major ADA case since 1996 revolving around distance education, and at least three CSU campuses have received letters of complaint from the OCR in recent years (Long Beach, Los Angeles, and San Jose).
1 Technology Access and the Law (Oregon State University)
Department of Justice Section 508 Homepage
The Access Board
List of Applicable Laws
Department of Education-Office of Civil Rights Division Complaint Letters to the CSU and Community Colleges
Section 508 Audit
Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama et al. v. Garrett et al.
There are several examples of accessibility policies in higher education, including some from CSU campuses (Fresno, San Marcos, and San Jose). Implementation plans are more difficult to find. However, there is no shortage of 508-related checklists and guidelines for developing such plans for hardware, software, and the Web (e.g., those from the W3C and Oregon State University).
CSU Fresno Web Accessibility Planning
CSU San Marcos Accessibility Statement
Yale University Library’s Library Services for People with Disabilities Services Policy Statement and Web Accessibility Guidelines
MIT’s Web Accessibility Policy
San Jose State University World Wide Web Policies and Guidelines
California Community College Policy
University of Wisconsin-Madison Policy Governing World Wide Web Accessibility
1 Department of Justice Software and OS Accessibility Checklist (Hardcopy Only)
1 WebAIM Section 508 Web Accessibility Checklist for HTML (Hardcopy Only)
Section 508 Summary Table
University of Washington Do-IT: Accessible Web Page Design Resources
1 Department of Education Requirements for Accessible for Electronic and Information Technology Design
1 Oregon State University Hardware Access Guidelines
1 Oregon State University Software Access Guidelines
1 Oregon State University Web Accessibility Guidelines
1 W3C-Fact Sheet for “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0”
1 W3C-Fact Sheet for “Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0”
Oregon State University Report: Distance Education and Individuals with Disabilities
W3C-Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0
W3C-Checklist of Checkpoints for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0
Yale University Web Accessibility Guidelines
BOBBY is probably the best-known general evaluation tool. It is a free downloadable service to help Web developers in identifying and repairing significant barriers to technology accessibility. W3C has prepared one of the most comprehensive inventories of assessment and repair tools.
1 W3C: Evaluation, Repair, and Transformation Tools for Web Content Accessibility
Bobby Accessibility Validator: Center for Applied Special Technology
W3C HTML Validation Service
Pennsylvania Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT) WAVE Accessibility Validator
The Technology Access Program (TAP) at Oregon State University has compiled useful lists of vendors, programs, and Web resources for various forms of disabilities. The last link below offers a checklist of access-related questions to ask when purchasing technology.
Hearing Assistance Resources
Computer Access Resources
Low Vision Resources
Technology Access Resources
Basic Questions to Ask When Purchasing Technology
Some of the major ones are listed below. For example, the Rehabilitative Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) sponsors an annual conference and exhibits, publishes the journal, Assistive Technology, and offers a credentialing program in assistive technology. RESNA is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Standards Organization (ISO) to develop standards for assistive technology. Within higher education, the EASI program at the Rochester Institute of Technology is a project of the AAHE TLT Group, and the University of Washington’s Do-It initiative offers a wide range of professional development programs, especially for faculty.
1 WebAIM-Web Accessibility in Mind
Rehabilitative Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA)
International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet (ICDRI)
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
W3C-Education & Outreach Working Group
Disability Related Organizations
Equal Access to Software and Information (EASI), Project of AAHE TLT Group
Accessible Web Authoring Resources and Education Center (AWARE)
CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM)
University of Wisconsin Trace Center
Anything and everything from the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is required reading. The University of Wisconsin, Madison Trace Center is a major resource as well. The CSU, Northridge annual conference on assistive technology is a significant event for all professionals in the field. Several organizations also offer formal seminars, workshops, certificate, and credential programs for professional development.
1 Accessibility of The Internet In Postsecondary Education: Meeting The Challenge
1 Department of Justice Section 508 Resource Guide
1 W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
1 W3C WAI Resources
1 W3C-References on Web Accessibility
1 University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point-Accessible Webpage Design: Resources
1 University of Wisconsin, Madison Trace Center Web Accessibility Resources
1 WebAIM Valuable Resources Links (Hardcopy Only)
Communication and Information Technology Resources
Proceedings of the CSUN’s 16th Annual International Conference
Technology and Disability Journal
W3C-Technical Reports and Publications
Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference
CSUN Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference
Consortium of Academic Technology Staff-CATS
1 Equal Access to Software and Information (EASI) Workshops
Assistive Technology Applications Certificate Program (ATACP)
University of Washington DO-IT? Programs and Resources
WebABLE! Solutions Seminars and Workshops
In the absence of definitive case law at the moment, simple prudence dictates that IT managers do the following:
a. Using the tools identified above, conduct a thorough, campus-wide accessibility evaluation of all hardware, software, network, training, and support resources in addition to Web sites. Make the assessment inventory available to the relevant stakeholders together with the necessary information for complying to Section 508.
b. Initiate development of an institutional policy on IT accessibility for the disabled.
c. Prepare one or multiple implementation plans for responding to the various regulations in Section 508, with timelines and budget estimates.
d. Keep detailed electronic and hardcopy documentation of IT procurement processes and products, including testing for accessibility among disabled populations.
e. Monitor Section 508 legal and technical developments through the organizations and resources noted above.
Hard to say……………….
The authors acknowledge the advice and assistance of Karen Henderson-Winge, Director of Diversity Programs at the CSU Office of the Chancellor and Adra Hallford, Web Developer at CSU San Marcos in preparation of this document. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the authors.