Whew, what an exhausting day! After presenting two different accessibility sessions at the Alaska Library Association conference today, I’m beat. The amazing part was the active engagement from participants, and the ability to still learn something from the co-presentation I was a part of.
Things I accomplished
- Co-presented about accessible workstations in libraries, with my part focused on people with disabilities who may come into their library.
- Presented about creating Word docs and PowerPoint slides with accessibility in mind.
- Completed Deque’s MS Word Accessibility course.
What I reviewed today
- U.S. law for people with disabilities
- accessible electronic content (Word and PowerPoint)
What I learned
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was written in a such a way to benefit everyone. Whether born with a disability or acquired later in life, it’s there to serve us all.
I knew about the Word’s export to HTML feature, though I don’t like it. What I didn’t know is that there is another save for web option: Web Page, Filtered. This removes all that excess (ugly) code that forces formatting as inline styles. Styles are separated. I haven’t given it a try yet, but will give it a try later on this week.
I’ve had an accessibility-heavy week! However, it’s not without it’s rewards. I’ve found that sometimes on these journeys, ideas start to synchronize, articles relevant to what I’m questioning start to emerge in my Twitter feed, and people approach me about ideas or questions they have that spur me on further. In line with a talk I’m giving this weekend and the classes I’m taking through Deque, the U.S. laws that protect the civil rights of people with disabilities kept coming into question in my mind. It’s only appropriate that I spent a little bit of time with those fundamentals today.
Things I accomplished
- Updated my presentation slides about people with disabilities.
- Updated my presentation slides about accessible digital documents.
- Completed Deque’s class “Section 508: Fundamentals of the Law and Technical Standards”.
What I reviewed today
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
- Title I (workplace)
- Title II (state and local government services)
- Title III (public accommodation and commercial facilities)
- Title IV (telecommunications for speech and hearing impaired)
- Title V (federal enforcement of ADA)
[Federal] Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (amended in 1998)
- Section 501 (federal employment)
- Section 502 (enables role of Access Board, which defines ICT and accessibility standards)
- Section 504 (federally-funded programs and services, including schools)
- Section 508 (refreshed in 2018; federally-funded information and communication technology), usually enforced with 501 or 504.
What I learned from it
Federal laws were instated to protect people with disabilities, as well as present an example to state and local governments, plus private entities. Laws focus on physical and electronic access.
- Architectural Barriers Act (ABA)
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
- Section 508 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): for state and local governments
- Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act
The ADA is essential a blanket civil rights law that protects the equal treatment of people with disabilities. Many lawsuits are championed with the ADA.
The Section 508 refresh specifically references WCAG 2.0, Level AA:
“E205.4 under Electronic Content indicates the accessibility standards for electronic content shall conform to WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements”
However, non-web documents and non-web software are not required to meet four criteria:
- 2.4.1 Bypass Blocks
- 2.4.5 Multiple Ways
- 3.2.3 Consistent Navigation
- 3.2.4 Consistent Identification
There are some ICT exceptions in Section 508. These exceptions are:
- Legacy ICT (“Safe Harbor”; created before January 17, 2018 and compliant with previous 508 standards)
- National Security Systems (weapons or intelligence)
- Incidental Federal contracts
- ICT functions located in maintenance of monitoring systems
- Undue burden or fundamental alteration (significant difficulty or expense, or alters the fundamental nature of the ICT)
- Best Meets (a balance between Section 508 and agency needs, if compliant ICT is not available commercially)
The only exceptions to agency official communication (as opposed to public facing) being compliant with Section 508 are any records maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) obsolete to Federal recordkeeping statutes.
Whew! And there’s still so much to learn…
My intention today was to complete the first Deque course within the WAS certification prep program. I did do that, but not without being led to more resources that I need to read through. I’ve done a little research into US laws, but I need to read them again, plus read other laws mentioned in what I reviewed today. Looks like tomorrow’s study session is laid out for me.
Thing I accomplished
Completed guidelines, laws, and myths sections of Deque’s Accessibility Fundamentals.
What I reviewed today
Principles, guidelines, and authoring practices help create an accessible interaction between user and website or application. These guidelines and practices ensure that a variety of disabilities are taken into consideration.
I covered these more in detail on my own, which I’ve journalled on this site, but Deque does a decent job of getting the learner started with the basic principles and guidelines, and points them to official specifications. I’ll admit, I need to go back and spend some serious review time to go over all these.
Web accessibility laws usually fit into one of the following categories:
- civil rights: discrimination against disabilities (Americans with Disabilities Act)
- procurement: purchasing accessible IT products (Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act)
- industry-specific: regulations for private industries (21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, Air Carrier Access Act)
The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has a comprehensive list of international accessibility policies. Additionally, PowerMapper has a list of government accessibility standards.
Myths and Misconceptions about Accessibility
- It benefits only a small minority. Truth: It actually benefits everyone.
- It’s a short-term project. Truth: It’s on-going.
- It should be the last step. Truth: It needs to start at the beginning of the project and last throughout the project’s life cycle.
- It’s hard & expensive. Truth: Remediation is harder and more expensive than considering it throughout the life cycle.
- It’s ugly. Truth: Most accessibility features are not visible to everyone.
“Inaccessible web sites are not just inconvenient for people with disabilities, they are blocking.”