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RE: accessibility for deaf - forward thinking - may justwant to delete


From: smithj7
Date: Apr 18, 2006 9:10PM


Hi, from your email address it looks like I'm your "neighbor". I work
for Florida DOE. Your question about are there any forward thinkers in
the US was quite thought provoking and for me, at this time, also like
opening a can of worms.

(Speaking of worms - I liked your little book worm... We have a cut
animated talking book.)

I in no way want to undermine the importance of ensuring that a website
is totally accessible to all users including people who are deaf.
However, I don't think it is lack of forward thinking on part of (at
least the Florida state employee web developers) that is our issue in
the US.

On the personal level I believe I am a forward thinker. I try to think
in terms of ALL users. But it is a real struggle in our state, mainly
because of lack of top down leadership. I must consistently remind
people in my division (an agency serving persons with disabilities) that
websites must comply with standards. I try to push the concept of
"universal design". (Note - we are an agency for the blind but they
didn't understand why I insistented on closed captioning for videos and
provide text equivelents for audio only material they want on the web

I also strongly feel that most Florida state department web
administrators are also forward thinkers.

On the one hand, I believe the US has many great laws thanks to hard
fights by consumers for persons with disabilities (e.g. ADA, IDEA,
Pratt-Smott(library copyright law)). On the other hand, I don't believe
the current leadership places a high value on these particular laws.

I don't know much about how federal or GA politics effect your agency.
But in Florida, state government is all about politics. In Florida, our
DOE commissor and most agency heads are political appointees and almost
half of all state employees are now employees that are "at the pleasure
of..." So pleasing leadership for such employees means keeping a job.

Forward thinking takes on a different meaning. Forward thinking is
linked to leadership thinking.

I personally know almost ever web administrator of Florida state
government and they have consistently tried to ensure that sites are at
minimum meet 508 standards since at least 2000. They have pushed to
make the state technology office establish 508 standards as the state
technology standard. Based on who is appointed to that position it has
been a guideline, a standard, a guideline, and either enforced or not
enforced. Many state agency web administrators have gotten frustrated
and began writing their own agency standards using 508 and gotten or
trying to get them approved by their agency head so they can enforce
standards in Florida with the many web masters under them.

Our govenor's need to outsource resulted in a lot of poorly designed web
applications. Even with great laws to ensure that people with
disabilities should be "able to get in the door - so to speak" contract
agencies were allowed to do their own thing. The one that got the most
headlines, was the new very expensive system used by all state employees
(PeopleFirst). Even employees without disabilities were having issues
that would not have surfaced if even basic ideas of web accessiblity
were used. Employees using assistive technology (not just speech) who
are blind still cannot access the employee system without sighted
assistance. Legislators throughout the state were contacted. Employees
who could not access the system (mostly people who were blind) contacted
consumer groups to attempt to get a class action suit started.

As a result, consumer groups (mainly Florida National Federation of the
Blind and Florida Council for the Blind) began fighting for a state law
this session to make sure that all state agencies and all agencies for
which the state contracts will comply with 508 of the Rehab Act for web
applications. (just passed in the house)

At this point since people who are blind were the most effected by bad
web applications from contracting agencies, our state's web development
and application folks are focusing on making applications and sites
accessible for persons using speech. For some reason, speech equates
with accessiblity. Our employees that are blind but users of low vision
technology aren't even being thought of even though this group which are
technically defined as "legally blind" represent a larger population
than people using speech.

Oh... The topic was on accessiblity for the deaf... The topic appeared
to have got lost in this email, but not because of lack of forward
thinking. Our country (US) and my state's leadership appears to only
give lip service to powerful laws. In Florida, this resulted in lack of
access for a group of people to do simply stuff like doing time sheets
or for supervisors to approve leave. I know two people who are deaf and
state employees and one who is hard of hearing, and they were able to do
these required tasks. It becomes difficult to be as forward thinking as
our British friend when we can't get our government leaders to ensure
that the door isn't being slammed shut on a specific group of persons.
Who will promote a blind state employee that can't use a system to
manage his/her employees without a sighted aid?

Maybe we need to add a standard to all web accessiblity standards in the
US that all leaders will take disablity sensitivity training including a
section on web access. I pretty jaded at this point in time and have
both good and evil suggestions for the latter... Will share if asked.

-----Original Message-----
[mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of
Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 10:55 AM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: RE: [WebAIM] accessibility for deaf

I see you are from the UK which seems far ahead of the US in this
respect. Generally the answer I get is "oh it is accessible. The deaf
can see the text" even though it is usually above the reading level of
the average deaf reader. What do the US members of this group think? and
any other forward thinkers as the British seem to be??

"Patrick Lauke"


Sent by: "WebAIM Discussion List"

webaim-forum-boun < <EMAIL REMOVED> >


RE: [WebAIM] accessibility for
04/18/2006 10:46


Please respond to

WebAIM Discussion





> I am curious about what is done to make web pages or other media
> accessible for deaf users.

Off the top of my head, I can think of three:

* use clear and simple language, as english (or whatever) may not be the
user's first language (may be sign language)

* If using any kind of multimedia (video, audio, flash) use captions
(both for spoken words and non-speech information)

* (Budget permitting) provide content of web pages/document
in sign language; add signing to other multimedia resources

Patrick H. Lauke
Web Editor / University of Salford
Web Standards Project (WaSP) Accessibility Task Force
http://webstandards.org/ ________________________________

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