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Re: [FWD] Universities Legal Web Accessibility Update

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From: Paul Bohman
Date: Nov 20, 2003 2:01PM


Additional note on Section 508:

Here are a couple of arguments against the idea that universities must
abide by Section 508 (in the interest or presenting both sides of the
story):

1. The Tech Act (in the 1994 amendments) says that states must abide by
Section 508. The word "state" is not defined well enough to determine if
it applies to universities, because the Tech Act never explicitly says
that universities are included.

2. There is no method or provision for enforcement other than that of
removing Tech Act funding. The average amount of Tech Act funding is a
mere $400,000 per state, which all states could just as easily live
without. If a state receives a complaint of 508 violations, the penalty
would probably be to remove the Tech Act funding, which would then also
remove the responsibility to abide by 508.

However,

The Department of Education has explicitly stated that it interprets
Section 508 to apply to colleges and universities.

--

Here's a key difference between Section 504 and Section 508: Section 504
allows organizations to make accommodations on an as-needed basis, which
sometimes means that the accommodations come many days, weeks, or even
months after the initial request. Section 508 requires a more pro-active
stance, because it says that the resources must be accessible to begin
with.

In the interest of providing true equality of access, it makes much more
sense to provide accessible educational materials in the moment they are
needed, rather than after it is too late. Section 504 doesn't advocate
for late accommodations, but you can "get away with" a slower approach
under the 504 mentality, unfortunately.

-Paul Bohman


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