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Feds Look To Boost Web Accessibility

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The Obama administration is asking for the public to weigh in on how to make government websites and other information technology more accessible for people with disabilities.

The request comes as federal officials work to develop a strategic plan to enhance technological accessibility.

President Barack Obama called for the plan last summer in an effort to beef up compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires federal agencies’ websites and other technology to be fully accessible for those with disabilities.

In a blog post Monday on the White House website, three administration officials said that they are well on their way to completing the strategic plan after wrapping up a series of listening sessions and meetings with stakeholders.

But now the group is looking for feedback to assess whether they are on the right track. Accordingly, they are soliciting comments and ideas through April 9 on a new website.

“People with disabilities should be able to access their government on an equal footing with all Americans,” wrote Kareem Dale, Obama’s special assistant to the president for disability policy, and two colleagues in the blog post. “With this strategy and your input, we take one more step toward achieving that goal.”

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Comments (3 Responses)

  1. Susan Lawrence says:

    there should be a way that when a government page comes up, the operator can be cued to modify what is presented to address his/her disability. For example, a very large icon that would indicate the ability to change font size, an equally large icon, along with audible cue that would present website information aurally for those whose vision is so impaired that they need the information presented in an alternate form

  2. Terry Bennington says:

    Ms. Lawrence obviously knows little about Web Accessibility… and she’s not alone. For example, having an icon to adjust font size indicates a poor or noncommited decision in the design process. All modern browsers have had the ability to increase/decrease zoom level built into them (try pressing Ctrl+PlusSign and Ctrl+MinusSign. Use Ctrl+0 to reset). And if a person needs audio to read a site, ask yourself: how’d they mange to GET to your site? Poof – enter screen readers (e.g. the free and open source NVDA screen reader, for example).

    Those who need Accessibility don’t need tricks. They need developers who follow standards. For example, the edit box above my comment box has a “Name (required)” and is properly “associated” with the Edit Box for my name using a “label for” tag. You’d be surprised how many sites DON’T label forms properly! I’d give you a link to WebAIM’s article “Web Accessibility Gone Wild” but it seems the instructions say I’m not allowed. Search Google… you’ll find it. It’s a good read!

  3. Deborah Machamer says:

    Make gov. sites with better, more comprehensive search engines, instead of ‘Faq you might want to know’ or ‘ Most often asked’ sections that do not function well and prove frustrating for those of us with vision impairments. We can find a way to enlarge most things, its FINDING what you need that is hard to do. Make sites with topics listed alphabetically, make buttons LOOK like buttons so we do not overlook them. Back sites up with clearly marked ‘write to us and we will reply’ email boxes so if we can’t find what we need, we can write for help.

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