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Re: [FWD] Universities Legal Web Accessibility Update


From: Jon Gunderson
Date: Nov 18, 2003 12:17PM


I found the e-mail very disturbing and only reinforcing a outmoded
stereotypes of accessibility, namely the text only site. The goal of
accessibility should be more than just meeting the technical requirements
of Section 508 or W3C WCAG, but moving toward accessible design that will
benefit all users, including people with disabilities. I have seen far to
many sites that comply with Section 508 and are still not functionally
accessible to people with disabilities.

It is an unfortunate e-mail that will play into the ignorance of many of
its recipients.


At 01:09 PM 11/18/2003 -0500, Sarah Horton wrote:
>I thought WebAIM readers might be interested in this unsolicited
>info-advertisement I received from Usablenet. I found it more than a
>little troubling that they seem to be promoting their text transcoder as a
>solution to 504/ADA compliance:
>"Basically, you need to offer good access to digital content and offering
>a text mode would be an easy way to achieve this."
>I expect this language will be very enticing to schools who want to/have
>to make their sites accessible, especially the "easy" part. It's hard work
>retrofitting a site for accessibility, and most colleges/universities do
>not have centralized control and resources. The idea of slapping a
>"text-only version" link on all pages and getting on it is going to sound
>mightly attractive.
>Does anyone else find this troubling?
>--- Forwarded Message from <EMAIL REMOVED> ---
> >Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2003 05:05:22 -0500
> >Subject: Universities Legal Web Accessibility Update
>We are seeing an increasing number of Universities create policies
>around web accessibility and every day many people ask us, "what are the
>legal requirements for our university's website"?
>In summary:
>You may not need to do as much as you once thought - Section 508 may not
>apply to your University or College but Section 504 and the ADA do for
>sure. Even if Section 508 does apply to you, you only have to worry
>about meeting these standards for content created after June 21st 2001.
>See full legal notes below.
>With focus on solutions many Universities, including Penn State
>University, have adopted a solution to address these two areas:
>1. Content not affected by Section 508
>Create a text mode dynamically based on the graphics mode: LIFT Text
>Transcoder - see the Penn State page and how they use this tool:
>Get a product demo:
>2. Content affected by Section 508
>Provide web designers with a tool that plugs into their authoring
>environment and builds compliant content as-they-go: - see how Penn
>State is using LIFT for Dreamweaver:
>Get product demo: http://www.usablenet.com/frontend/demoform.jsp
>Below we have outlined in detail, the current legal standards for US
>Colleges and Universities in order to help you determine what you need
>to do with YOUR content.
>1. Does a University web site have to be Section 508 Compliant?
>No! UNLESS you are a State Entity in a State that receives funds under
>the Tech Act.
>(Section 508 applies to Federal departments and agencies and does not
>apply to recipients of Federal funds. However, states receiving Federal
>funds under the Tech Act are required to comply with Section 508.
>2. So, if Section 508 does not apply to my University, then what does?
>And what do I have to do to meet those requirements?
>You must comply with the standards set by Section 504 of the
>Rehabilitation Act and the ADA.
>Basically, you need to offer good access to digital content and offering
>a text mode would be an easy way to achieve this.
>Specifically the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) has issued only one
>policy ruling letter concerning web site accessibility, dated September
>9, 1996 - Under the rationale of "effective communication", the USDOJ
>Letter states that ADA Titles II and III require state and local
>government entities and the business sector (including Universities) to
>effectively reach all users when communicating via the Internet. The
>effective communication rule applies to entities using the Internet to
>convey information about their programs, goods or services and they must
>be prepared to do so via an accessible medium.
>Specifically addressing the needs of people with visual disabilities,
>the USDOJ Letter points out that providing a text format rather than a
>graphical format ensures the accessibility of the Internet for
>individuals using screen readers.
>(source: http://www.icdri.org/CynthiaW/the_digital_divide.htm)
>3. If Section 508 applies to my University what do I have to do?
>If you are a State Entity and your state receives funds under the Tech
>Act then you have to follow the content requirements set out under
>section 508 for content created AFTER June 21st 2001. See:
>All content created prior to this date is not subject to Section 508 but
>would be covered by Section 504 and the ADA (see #2 above)
>4. Are there any other laws that I need to be aware of?
>Yes, if you are a State Entity, you may be affected by a Law that has
>been passed in your individual state. You should check with your State
>CIO office for an update on what is required.
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>http://liftonline.usablenet.com/users_email/scripts/remove.php3?email= <EMAIL REMOVED> &address_id=595631107
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Jon Gunderson, Ph.D., ATP
Coordinator of Assistive Communication and Information Technology
Division of Rehabilitation - Education Services
College of Applied Life Studies
University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign
1207 S. Oak Street, Champaign, IL 61820

Voice: (217) 244-5870
Fax: (217) 333-0248


WWW: http://cita.rehab.uiuc.edu/
WWW: http://www.staff.uiuc.edu/~jongund

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