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Section 508 Question

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From: Paul Bohman
Date: Apr 5, 2001 11:15PM


I am posting some information that was forwarded to me by Candace Egan
regarding Section 508, along with some of my comments (at the bottom).
Candace Egan wrote:
The email below was sent by a person from our Chancellor's office who
asserts that we are to be Section 508 compliant by June 21, 2001.
This does not match with our understanding of the regulations. My
understanding is that the June deadline is specific to Federal
Agencies only.
We are underway in planning our implementation of Section 508 for the
Web, but there is no possible way we will be compliant by June.
I'd appreciate your thoughts (and concrete information) on this.
Candace Egan
Web Manager
California State University, Fresno
> Section 508 Standards were published December 21, 2000: ....As a
Federal contractor (recipient of funds and assistance under the the
Assistive Technology Act State Grant Program), the CSU must comply with
Section 508. The Standards will go into effect 6/21/01 at which point
electronic and information technology, including Web sites, must be
accessible to students, staff and faculty with disabilities.

Ok, here are my (Paul's) comments:
According to my understanding, the chancellor's office is correct in that
university Web sites should be in compliance at the same time that federal
government websites are. However, the June 21 deadline is a bit of a moving
target because the Bush administration has said that it wants to review all
of the last minute decisions of the previous administration for 60
additional days before allowing them to go into effect, and Section 508 is
one of those decisions. If that's the case, then August 21 would be the
deadline. I have not heard any official news one way or the other.
As far as differences between federal government sites and university Web
sites, the key is the Tech Act funding. All states receiving Tech Act funds
(which is all of them at this point) have already agreed to abide by Section
508 regulations. That's why the guidelines would apply to more than just the
federal Web sites, even though some of the language in Section 508
explicitly states that it is for federal government web sites only. None of
the section 508 guidelines apply to private businesses, and that's the main
distinction that they were trying to draw. I don't understand all of the
why's and how's of the relationship between the Tech Act funding and Section
508, but what I have said has come through Marty Blair, who is the Tech Act
coordinator for Utah, and Cyndi Rowland, the WebAIM Project Director. If
anyone else has any additional insights, I'd like to hear them as well.
Paul Bohman
Technology Coordinator
Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM)
Center for Persons with Disabilities
Utah State University
http://www.webaim.org/