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Re: Universities Legal Web Accessibility Update

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From: Jason Taylor-UsableNet
Date: Dec 8, 2003 10:59AM


In order to follow up some postings with regard the legal position of
Universities with regard to Section 508 and Web Accessibility. I approached
Ken. S. Nakata of The US DOJ. In short, it seems that the provision of
Section 508 effecting Universities due to Tech Act funding was wrong and we
apologize for this. My short e-mail discussion with Ken is below.


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1. "If I am creating and maintaining web content for students and faculty of
a public university which Disabilities act would most likely apply to my web
content?"

504 (if federally-funded) and title II of the ADA.

2. "Does Section 508 of the Rehabilitations act apply to me in the above
scenario - if so when and why, and if not when and why?"

No. (when ask for clarity on this, the response was "508 doesn't apply. The
stuff from Cynthia is incorrect, because that was a former (and
unsupportable) position articulated by the Department of Education. We had
to get them to change that".)

3. What types of access to web content should a university consider to
satisfy their legal requirements under any laws you outline above?

First, it's probably essential to provide access to alternative sources of
information... e.g. a person answering email or the phone regarding web page
content. Doesn't necessarily have to be 24/7, but the delay in response
shouldn't be unreasonable (of course, that depends on what it is that's
required). As far as design standards, either 508 or WAI would go a long
way to meeting 504/ada obligations in most circumstances (but not all as
these standards do not aid all forms of disabilities).

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Ken is referring to the below 508 statement on Cynthia's site being out
dated.

[12] Section 508 was originally added to the Rehabilitation Act in 1986.