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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Website Accessibility

Web Accessibility standards are not new, but as the internet becomes more central to American life, the issue of website usability by people with disabilities is getting its day in court. My colleague Jack Dill, marketing director at the YMCA of Greater Omaha, sent me a link yesterday to an article in the Non-Profit Times discussing the lawsuit by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) against Target Corp. It's been a matter of debate whether the law requires such accessibility. The judge's decision let the case go forward, however, gives weight to the inclusion of websites as "places of public accomodation" under the ADA.
Meeting Internet accessibility standards in terms of the disabled takes on increased importance for all organizations with the possibility of a lawsuit now a real threat. Judge Patel’s basis for her decision to allow the suit to proceed -- that although Title III of the ADA doesn’t specifically talk about the Internet, the statute applies to the services of a place of public accommodation -- makes this so.
What is the standard? Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act sets forward requirements that must to be met by federal agencies acquiring data systems. This has become the de facto standard that all accessibility of Information Systems has been measured against. Section 508 has no authority over privately owned Web sites unless they are receiving federal monies. That's why this lawsuit, claiming that the ADA covers websites, is truly breaking new ground.

How would your site fare in an accessibility audit? WebAim.org has developed a comprehensive and comprehensible compliance checklist you might want to take a look at.
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Comments on "Website Accessibility"

 

Anonymous Rochelle said ... (September 27, 2006 at 2:13 PM) : 

Micheal, This is a great site. I will certainly be visiting again. I also posted a link to your site!
http://www.rochellerobinson.com/digest/detail.php?news_id=110

 

Anonymous Andy Fluke said ... (September 30, 2006 at 9:39 AM) : 

Two great books on accessibility, Constructing Accessible Web Sites by Jim Thatcher, et al and the accessibility bible, Building Accessible Websites by Joe Clark, are both highly recommended reads on this topic. Joe Clark's book covers the topic very thoroughly, examining not only the technology, but the history as well.

 

Blogger Graeme Attkins said ... (October 2, 2006 at 8:42 AM) : 

You might want to look at the online self-testing service at Watchfire (http://webxact.watchfire.com) - this system allows you to enter a web page address and it scans to check that various accessibility criteria have been met. Anything it picks up on that it can't test, it puts in a checklist that links to appropriate guidelines to allow you to do manual checks. While this is not the ideal system for all websites, especially those that create content dynamically, it is a good place to start when trying to ensure your website meets the standards.

 

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