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Thread: What is happening with the update of section 508?

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Number of posts in this thread: 13 (In chronological order)

From: Nancy Johnson
Date: Mon, Nov 28 2011 7:27AM
Subject: What is happening with the update of section 508?
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I cannot find anything about it after May 2010....

Thanks

Nancy Johnson

From: Jared Smith
Date: Mon, Nov 28 2011 8:09AM
Subject: Re: What is happening with the update of section 508?
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It was announced last week that a new draft set of guidelines and
notice would be published in the next week or so. There will then be
another round of feedback, changes, and several other steps in the
coming months and years. The Access Board's Tim Creagan said that we
should not expect the actual update to occur before Fall 2013.

In my opinion, continuing to focus on Section 508 is a waste of time.
It's antiquated, broken, confusing, and compliance with these
guidelines alone rarely results in very optimal accessibility. If you
are interested in true accessibility (something our government seems
not to be), you should be focusing on WCAG 2.0. Fortunately, very few
of our corporate clients even care about Section 508 any more. It's
rather embarrassing that our government is this slow in considering
the needs of people with disabilities.

Jared Smith

From: Nancy Johnson
Date: Mon, Nov 28 2011 8:42AM
Subject: Re: What is happening with the update of section 508?
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the term "508" is what the government agency I build sites for is the
term they use instead of accessibility...Many of the blog sites have
been discontinued.

Thanks,

Nancy

On Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 10:11 AM, Jared Smith < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:
> It was announced last week that a new draft set of guidelines and
> notice would be published in the next week or so. There will then be
> another round of feedback, changes, and several other steps in the
> coming months and years. The Access Board's Tim Creagan said that we
> should not expect the actual update to occur before Fall 2013.
>
> In my opinion, continuing to focus on Section 508 is a waste of time.
> It's antiquated, broken, confusing, and compliance with these
> guidelines alone rarely results in very optimal accessibility. If you
> are interested in true accessibility (something our government seems
> not to be), you should be focusing on WCAG 2.0. Fortunately, very few
> of our corporate clients even care about Section 508 any more. It's
> rather embarrassing that our government is this slow in considering
> the needs of people with disabilities.
>
> Jared Smith
>

From: Bevi Chagnon
Date: Mon, Nov 28 2011 10:06AM
Subject: Re: What is happening with the update of section 508?
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Jared,
Are talking about only websites and not documents (PDFs, Word, PowerPoint,
spreadsheets, email, etc.)?
My reading of the forthcoming 508 Refresh is that WCAG 2.0 is incorporated
into it (called harmonization). Plus the standards/guidelines address other
devices and media, such as routine office documents, PDFs,
telecommunications devices , and other technologies that should be
accessible that WCAG 2.0 doesn't mention.
So if you only want websites to be accessible, then WCAG 2.0 is the route to
take.
But if you want websites and everything else accessible, then we'll need the
broader coverage of Section 508 to make that happen.

One more point: WCAG 2.0 is not a law. It is an international set of
guidelines and standards that people, governments, and enterprises
voluntarily adopt and follow.
Section 508, on the other hand, is part of our federal law that mandates
that all U.S. federal information, communication, and computer technologies
be accessible to federal employees and the general public. To date, several
formal complaints have been filed by federal employees and it has worked to
get at least some problems fixed and the agencies aware of the law's
requirements. I expect that the new 508 Refresh, with its expanded coverage
and more defined language of what's covered, will generate a few more
complaints within the government and lawsuits from the general public.

[Jared wrote: It's antiquated, broken, confusing, and compliance with these
guidelines alone rarely results in very optimal accessibility. If you are
interested in true accessibility (something our government seems not to be),
you should be focusing on WCAG 2.0. Fortunately, very few of our corporate
clients even care about Section 508 any more.]

If your clients are having such a difficult time creating accessible ICT or
it the end result isn't truly accessible, then they're not getting the
proper training.
Send them to me, Jared, and I'll get them humming in no time! <grin> I'm
working with some of the federal government's largest contractors with
consulting and training to make it work. And it really does work.

[Jared wrote: The Access Board's Tim Creagan said that we should not expect
the actual update to occur before Fall 2013.]

Yes, it is very sad that our government has taken such a long time to get to
this point. For these regs to go into affect in 2 years is appalling. But
having worked in Washington for many decades, I also understand some of the
reasons why it takes so long to get anything done: there are so many forces
and stakeholders for every issue, especially with today's political climate
of "all government is evil." Many government agencies are already adopting
the 508 refresh standards (many are my clients), as well as corporate
contractors, so in spite of the long effective date, we will start making
progress in the next few months.

-Bevi Chagnon

--
Bevi Chagnon, = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
PubCom - Trainers, consultants, designers, and developers
Print, Web, Acrobat, XML, eBooks, and Federal Section 508
--
* It's our 30th Year! *

From: Jared Smith
Date: Mon, Nov 28 2011 10:42AM
Subject: Re: What is happening with the update of section 508?
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On Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 10:09 AM, Bevi Chagnon wrote:
> Jared,
> Are talking about only websites and not documents (PDFs, Word, PowerPoint,
> spreadsheets, email, etc.)?
> ...
> So if you only want websites to be accessible, then WCAG 2.0 is the route to
> take.
> But if you want websites and everything else accessible, then we'll need the
> broader coverage of Section 508 to make that happen.

Correct. The issue is that the current set of Section 508 guidelines
(not the refresh draft) are 11 years old and are out-of-date and don't
adequately address accessibility of modern technologies. The draft
guidelines do generally harmonize with WCAG 2.0 for web content, but,
as you note, the 508 guidelines also have requirements for non-web
technologies.

> If your clients are having such a difficult time creating accessible ICT or
> it the end result isn't truly accessible, then they're not getting the
> proper training.

No, my point is that when clients focus only on the 11 year old
Section 508 guidelines, the resulting accessibility is usually very,
very poor. Our clients have generally chosen to focus on true
accessibility and the much better and comprehensive WCAG guidelines
rather than merely 508. Many have chosen to ignore Section 508
compliance altogether so they can place their efforts in areas that
actually matter when it comes to end-user accessibility (rather than
silly, antiquated requirements like placing links to Flash player or
Acrobat Reader on every page, or ensuring the page is readable with
styles disabled).

> [Jared wrote: The Access Board's Tim Creagan said that we should not expect
> the actual update to occur before Fall 2013.]
>
> Yes, it is very sad that our government has taken such a long time to get to
> this point. For these regs to go into affect in 2 years is appalling.

This process has been underway since early 2006. The committee I was
on delivered a draft set of guidelines to the Access Board in early
2008. A 7 or 8 year timeline for updating technical accessibility
requirements is more than appalling.

> Many government agencies are already adopting
> the 508 refresh standards (many are my clients), as well as corporate
> contractors, so in spite of the long effective date, we will start making
> progress in the next few months.

Yep! This is my point. If you want to be ahead of the curve and are
interested in true accessibility, you need to be looking at WCAG 2.0
and the draft Section 508 guidelines at a minimum. It seems this ship
has sailed for about everyone except the federal government.

Jared

From: Giovanni Duarte
Date: Mon, Nov 28 2011 10:54AM
Subject: Re: What is happening with the update of section 508?
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Hi Jared and all,
Is the link below the latest draft?
http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/refresh/draft-rule.htm

Thanks,
Giovanni


-----Original Message-----
From: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
[mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of Jared Smith
Sent: Monday, November 28, 2011 11:45 AM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] What is happening with the update of section 508?

On Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 10:09 AM, Bevi Chagnon wrote:
> Jared,
> Are talking about only websites and not documents (PDFs, Word,
> PowerPoint, spreadsheets, email, etc.)?
> ...
> So if you only want websites to be accessible, then WCAG 2.0 is the
> route to take.
> But if you want websites and everything else accessible, then we'll
> need the broader coverage of Section 508 to make that happen.

Correct. The issue is that the current set of Section 508 guidelines (not
the refresh draft) are 11 years old and are out-of-date and don't adequately
address accessibility of modern technologies. The draft guidelines do
generally harmonize with WCAG 2.0 for web content, but, as you note, the 508
guidelines also have requirements for non-web technologies.

> If your clients are having such a difficult time creating accessible
> ICT or it the end result isn't truly accessible, then they're not
> getting the proper training.

No, my point is that when clients focus only on the 11 year old Section 508
guidelines, the resulting accessibility is usually very, very poor. Our
clients have generally chosen to focus on true accessibility and the much
better and comprehensive WCAG guidelines rather than merely 508. Many have
chosen to ignore Section 508 compliance altogether so they can place their
efforts in areas that actually matter when it comes to end-user
accessibility (rather than silly, antiquated requirements like placing links
to Flash player or Acrobat Reader on every page, or ensuring the page is
readable with styles disabled).

> [Jared wrote: The Access Board's Tim Creagan said that we should not
> expect the actual update to occur before Fall 2013.]
>
> Yes, it is very sad that our government has taken such a long time to
> get to this point. For these regs to go into affect in 2 years is
appalling.

This process has been underway since early 2006. The committee I was on
delivered a draft set of guidelines to the Access Board in early 2008. A 7
or 8 year timeline for updating technical accessibility requirements is more
than appalling.

> Many government agencies are already adopting the 508 refresh
>standards (many are my clients), as well as corporate contractors, so
>in spite of the long effective date, we will start making progress in
>the next few months.

Yep! This is my point. If you want to be ahead of the curve and are
interested in true accessibility, you need to be looking at WCAG 2.0 and the
draft Section 508 guidelines at a minimum. It seems this ship has sailed for
about everyone except the federal government.

Jared

From: Bevi Chagnon
Date: Mon, Nov 28 2011 11:00AM
Subject: Re: What is happening with the update of section 508?
Previous message | Next message

Commenting on Jared's points about federal govt agencies lack of
implementing Section 508, both old and forthcoming standards!

I've found so many heads of agencies (and offices, branches, divisions) who
don't know what Section 508 is nor how to deploy it throughout their agency.
I can't even begin to count the number of my federal students who say, gee,
my boss doesn't know what this is.

On top of that, many managers believe that "Section 508" is something
they'll have to do to a document or website after it is created, which we
know is a ridiculous, time-consuming strategy.

So the education of our federal managers hasn't been adequate. Given that
Section 508 is controlled by 3 federal agencies (U.S. Access Board, Dept. of
Justice, and GSA), it's no wonder that this critical follow-through has
slipped through the cracks.

-Bevi Chagnon | = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
PubCom - Trainers, consultants, designers, and developers
Print, Web, Acrobat, XML, eBooks, and Federal Section 508
--
* It's our 30th Year! *

From: Bevi Chagnon
Date: Mon, Nov 28 2011 11:06AM
Subject: Re: What is happening with the update of section 508?
Previous message | Next message

Yes, it is, at least until the new draft is uploaded in a few days.
--Bevi Chagnon

-----Original Message-----
Hi Jared and all,
Is the link below the latest draft?
http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/refresh/draft-rule.htm

From: Elle
Date: Mon, Nov 28 2011 12:48PM
Subject: Re: What is happening with the update of section 508?
Previous message | Next message

From my experience, private corporations who are required to meet Section
508 compliance accessibility standards respond much quicker to "this is
what Section 508 will be, so it's best to code accordingly" and align the
work to the draft and WCAG 2 than to sell WCAG 2 as a universal standard.
We may argue that these are semantics, but such distinctions matter when
you're making the case with executive leadership and putting a lot of money
towards that solution.


Cheers,
Elle

From: Ryan Hemphill
Date: Mon, Nov 28 2011 6:33PM
Subject: Re: What is happening with the update of section 508?
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There is a term in the developer world called 'vaporware', referring to
things that never actually come to market. In the case of 508's internet
protocol, I think it will 'never come to market' in terms of keeping up
with internet technologies and this bothers me a great deal. I look at the
ARIA spec and I see some serious problems there too.

Is there any way to get things like section 508 and even the ARIA spec to
really translate into more of a 'living document' or a software version?
Has there been any interest in that idea?

Maybe I'm a little nuts but it would seem to me, based on what I have seen,
that an initiative that starts in 2006 and is completed in 2011 is going to
have a hard time keeping up with the speed. How many release cycles have
we seen out of Firefox lately? Call me dramatic, but it worries me to see
it take so long to publish something when the internet is moving so much
faster.

My interest in gov't contracts is nil (sorry Bevi) but my interest in a11y
for HTML5 and rich internet applications is very high. I look at the new
508 and it makes me a little sad. I think it's going to be a long time
before we start to take the a11y requirements iterative process into
account with the speed of innovation.


Ryan

On Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 2:49 PM, Elle < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:

> From my experience, private corporations who are required to meet Section
> 508 compliance accessibility standards respond much quicker to "this is
> what Section 508 will be, so it's best to code accordingly" and align the
> work to the draft and WCAG 2 than to sell WCAG 2 as a universal standard.
> We may argue that these are semantics, but such distinctions matter when
> you're making the case with executive leadership and putting a lot of money
> towards that solution.
>
>
> Cheers,
> Elle
>

From: Jared Smith
Date: Mon, Nov 28 2011 6:54PM
Subject: Re: What is happening with the update of section 508?
Previous message | Next message

On Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 6:34 PM, Ryan Hemphill wrote:
> In the case of 508's internet
> protocol, I think it will 'never come to market' in terms of keeping up
> with internet technologies and this bothers me a great deal.

I agree. I fear that when the guidelines are finalized, they'll
already be terribly irrelevant and out-of-date. If future updates
occur at the rate this one has, we'd then be looking at 2025 before we
see another update to Section 508.

> I look at the
> ARIA spec and I see some serious problems there too.

While the W3C process is also slow, do consider that ARIA isn't even
yet a finalized spec. Despite this, it already has good (and
continually improving) support in most modern web technologies. And
the next version of ARIA is already in development.

> Is there any way to get things like section 508 and even the ARIA spec to
> really translate into more of a 'living document' or a software version?
>  Has there been any interest in that idea?

This approach just doesn't work well in the standards realm, and fails
altogether in the legal arena. However, this is precisely how
developers and vendors need to view true accessibility requirements.
Technology and accessibility requirements are constantly shifting
(even WCAG 2.0 has a few elements I think are in need of change
already). We need to be responsive to these changes so we provide
optimal accessibility rather than merely compliance to a set of
guidelines.

Jared

From: Ryan Hemphill
Date: Tue, Nov 29 2011 2:24PM
Subject: Re: What is happening with the update of section 508?
Previous message | Next message

> We need to be responsive to these changes so we provide
> optimal accessibility rather than merely compliance to a set of
> guidelines.

Define who is going to be responsive...us? No offense to everyone here but
we don't matter. It's the greater development/design community at large
that needs to become responsive, and I don't see anything about 508, WCAG
or anything else that is going to inspire a response.

I'm not even sure that compliance requirements are ultimately the way to
make this work. I think we need to take the fight away from 508 for a
second and ask what is going to hit home for the trenches. I for one am
very interested in a11y and designing for it, but there is no one out there
in my profession that I would blame for not wanting to work on a11y.

One of the worst quotes I heard recently was "Accessibility is a journey,
not a destination." When I think about how that translates to a project
manager's brain - I cringe. It doesn't exactly make a designer or
developer jump up and down either. And yet, when I look at the moving
target that 508 is pursuing, that quote resonates a little too much for my
liking.

So, my question is - can anyone think of a compelling reason (non "bleeding
heart", mind you) that would attract the attention necessary to change in
the development community from 508 measures to a11y version-ing?

Thoughts?


On Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 8:52 PM, Jared Smith < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:

> On Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 6:34 PM, Ryan Hemphill wrote:
> > In the case of 508's internet
> > protocol, I think it will 'never come to market' in terms of keeping up
> > with internet technologies and this bothers me a great deal.
>
> I agree. I fear that when the guidelines are finalized, they'll
> already be terribly irrelevant and out-of-date. If future updates
> occur at the rate this one has, we'd then be looking at 2025 before we
> see another update to Section 508.
>
> > I look at the
> > ARIA spec and I see some serious problems there too.
>
> While the W3C process is also slow, do consider that ARIA isn't even
> yet a finalized spec. Despite this, it already has good (and
> continually improving) support in most modern web technologies. And
> the next version of ARIA is already in development.
>
> > Is there any way to get things like section 508 and even the ARIA spec to
> > really translate into more of a 'living document' or a software version?
> > Has there been any interest in that idea?
>
> This approach just doesn't work well in the standards realm, and fails
> altogether in the legal arena. However, this is precisely how
> developers and vendors need to view true accessibility requirements.
> Technology and accessibility requirements are constantly shifting
> (even WCAG 2.0 has a few elements I think are in need of change
> already). We need to be responsive to these changes so we provide
> optimal accessibility rather than merely compliance to a set of
> guidelines.
>
> Jared
>

From: Elle
Date: Tue, Nov 29 2011 4:21PM
Subject: Re: What is happening with the update of section 508?
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Ryan:

The only thing that comes to mind, with regards to "a compelling reason
(non "bleeding heart", mind you) that would attract the attention necessary
to change in the development community from 508 measures to a11y
version-ing" is to align accessibility standards to the greater set of web
development standards. I think we too often divorce accessibility from the
global body of design standards when fighting the good fight. I think that
weakens our argument. When I speak about device independence, streamlined
maintenance, and mobile platform support, I'm talking about valid,
semantic, accessible design, and our IT leaders listen. The business
stakeholders find value in those features, and business funds IT
development.

Additionally, accessibility advocates must find a way to speak the language
of project managers and IT managers (where the work happens), and that
language is anchored in cost and time savings. "How will I come in under
budget and on time?" My answer is usually something like, "If your team is
trained and builds correctly in the development phase, you will have fewer
UI and accessibility defects that would risk your launch date."

All of this is not to say that I don't bring up the "compliance" word
often, mind you. Overall, though, we need to understand our audience
better and find out what their measures of success are. Accessibility can
usually align to them.


Cheers,
Elle