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Accessibility software

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From: Debbie Charles
Date: Dec 19, 2005 1:40PM


Hi,

I was wondering if any of you are using site licensed packages to check
sites for accessibility. I am in SC at a state university, and our state
has mandated Section 508 standards effective later next year. We are
currently looking at packages available, such as Watchfire. We have
hundreds of staff and faculty members publishing sites campus-wide that
will be subject to the standard. Most are not trained developers (and even
those who are have not consistently considered accessibility), but rather
have the responsibility because they were interested in it and enjoyed it
or other less happy reasons. :)

Watchfire (site license), for example, will allow unlimited checks by large
numbers of people (they've confirmed 100 people can run a check at the same
time). The report can capture code so the user knows where to look for the
problem and has a 'help' that will show code examples, etc. I realize there
are many things accessibility software cannot check for, but we have over
500,000 pages in our site, and a staff of 6 who are available to assist in
correcting issues. We have developed a comprehensive plan for training,
etc., but feel a tool like this can let those webmasters who are fairly
comfortable with code, etc. begin to work toward compliance.

Many of the sites will require little more than adding alternate text, but
most of our audience doesn't even know what that is. We have limited
resources (me) to help individuals determine the accessibility of their
site, and we want them to be able to do a check on their site, note the
problems, make a plan to transition, attend training specific to their
problems, fix their problems (as many as possible) on their own as our
(very limited number of people) address mission critical sites.

I would really like a critique of any commercial packages if anyone has any
experience with them. Thanks for any suggestions!

Debbie

Debbie Charles
Educational Technology Services
864.650.3995