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June 2003
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June Weblog

June 24, 2003

This past Saturday, June 21, 2003, was the second year anniversary of U.S. Section 508 going into effect. On Friday there was an accessible Web cast about the status and fate of Section 508. (The Web cast will be archived online for a year). They highlighted the prevalent apathy towards Section 508 compliance. They also scold the Bush administration for not supporting the law. They even go so far as to recommended "naming an accessibility czar to monitor agency compliance"! If you work on a Web site that must comply with Section 508, be sure to watch for further developments. Things could get interesting.

June 19, 2003

If you ever had any doubt, here's further confirmation that the ADA covers government information technology. This week the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) site added a new document, entitled "Accessibility of State and Local Government Websites to People with Disabilities". I'm slightly surprised that they're targeting state and local government, but I suppose that's because Section 508 squarely covers Federal level government. It's a shame that so few people in state government seem to realize that Section 508 may apply to them, too. Here's what appears to be an updated, comprehensive list of Assistive Technology Act funded states that must comply with Section 508.

June 18, 2003

The U.S. National Council on Disability (NCD) asserts that access to electronic and information technology is a civil right. The news release is an excerpt from the NCD's National Disability Policy progress report (for December 2001-2002) they will release soon. The excerpt provides an excellent, brief history of U.S. Section 508 and related laws. It also encourages the 108th Congress to comply with Section 508, (which they are not required by law to do).

June 16, 2003

The June edition of Made for All was recently released. I found the article about the mod_accessibility plug-in for Apache particularly fascinating. An excerpt from the article describes it as:

Technically, mod_accessibility works as an output filter for the Apache webserver. That means it has no effect on the production of the page, and it is automatically compatible not only with static pages, but also with dynamic contents such as CGI, PHP or XML/XSLT. It is controlled by the user through their browser, and optionally rewrites and enhances HTML contents as it leaves the server or proxy.

June 12, 2003

My parents' generation is giving me hope there might be some job security in the technology accessibility industry. This is evidenced by the fact that IBM recently created a new business team focused on providing accessibility technology and services for the aging work force. If this isn't just another temporary technology bubble, it'll give me an additional reason to respect my elders!

June 10, 2003

Juicy Studio conducted an informal survey of the accessibility of UK government Council sites. (Hat tip to for its post and content mirror.) Alas, the survey's results are disheartening. Here's an excerpt from the introduction:

The UK's first e-Minister, Patricia Hewitt, gave a commitment in February 2001 that all new government websites should be accessible. In May 2002 the Office of the e-Envoy published the Guidelines for UK Government Websites handbook, which offers guidance and best practice for the design of Government websites... Despite the commitment over two years ago from the e-Minister, and the published guidelines, UK government sites are a long way from being accessible.

June 9, 2003

The ISO (International Organization for Standardisation) recently released technical specifications about making software usable for disabled users. ISO/TS 16071, "Ergonomics of human-system interaction - Guidance on accessibility for human-computer interfaces", is currently available only in English. Tom Stewart, Chair of the committee that developed ISO/TS 16071, stated that, "This standard is part of a series of standards aimed at making systems more usable, in particular, more effective, more efficient and more satisfying for all users - with either permanent or temporary disabilities". Unfortunately, the specs aren't free, but they may be worth the price, especially if you're unfamiliar with how to make software more accessible and you seek documentation to get you started. I'll be curious to see if the ISO will release similiar guidelines for making Web sites and Web application more accessible and usable. It would be interesting to compare the ISO specifications with other existing guidelines.

June 4, 2003

I keep hearing about Adobe's new Acrobat version 6.0. Paul Bohman's first impressions about the new accessibility features were favorable. PDF Planet has some nice screenshots and applauds its improved usability. I'll reserve judgement until I get the chance to try it out, but it certainly looks promising! I'd love to hear about anyone's experiences with its new accessibility features. Please email me: <anitra at anitrapavka dot com>

June 2, 2003

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office claims to be "the first agency to make all of its electronic information accessible to people with disabilities". Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I recall that U.S. Section 508 went into effect June 21, 2001. That's almost two years ago! I understand that it takes time to convert huge amounts of legacy data into an accessible format. They even admit that "pre-1976 patents are available in TIFF image format only". It's awesome that they've come so far, but considering how they're almost two years late, I wouldn't boast. They're just doing their job. If their claim is true, then it's a sad testament to the level of Web accessibility of U.S. Federal government sites.

On a brighter note, Joe Clark looks to be updating his axxlog (Media Access Weblog) again! He's an unbeatable source for good information and strong opinions.