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Oklahoma ABLE Tech is a nationally recognized statewide Assistive Technology Act Program focusing on assistive technology for individuals with disabilities, universal design for learning, and accessible environments. Oklahoma ABLE Tech has been a leader in the state as a member of the Oklahoma Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Council since 2004 and has been responsible for statewide accessibility training for state agencies and higher education related to Oklahoma’s information technology accessibility law (HB 2197 – 2004). This training project is an innovative approach leveraging the resources and expertise of Oklahoma ABLE Tech, Web AIM, and the Southwest ADA Center at ILRU. The project offers a training and implementation plan to assist Oklahoma’s Higher Education Institutions in achieving standards compliance and therefore, providing the best approach and communications for our valued patrons.
Just as the physical world of buildings and facilities can pose barriers to individuals with disabilities, the virtual environment of information and communication technology (ICT) can pose many barriers to individuals with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination of people with disabilities and requires standards to provide for accessible architecture and programs. In 2001, federal standards were adopted as part of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act to improve the accessibility of ICT. In 2004, the Oklahoma legislature passed the Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Law and 508 standards. Oklahoma’s law requires state agencies, post-secondary institutions, and the Career Technology Centers to procure, develop, and maintain accessible information and communication technology. ICT includes computers, telephone equipment, multimedia, distance learning systems, software, and websites.
The federal 508 standards are now outdated, and the federal Access Board is due to release an updated set of standards within the next two years which will result in an update for Oklahoma’s standards. The 2010 passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments and consumer complaints regarding inaccessible information communication technology in government and private business has resulted in a resurgence of interest in ICT accessibility compliance.
Goal: Oklahoma ABLE Tech’s goal is to provide a targeted training and technical assistance program to assist Oklahoma’s Higher Education Institutions to increase the accessibility and legal compliance of their institutional websites. Over the course of the project, teams will receive targeted training and technical assistance from Oklahoma ABLE Tech, nationally recognized accessibility experts and WebAIM. Teams will create a feasible plan and expertise to develop a system-wide commitment to accessibility and the technical development skills to comply with laws and standards
Institution-wide web accessibility is best attained and sustained when there is leadership to support institution-wide vision and commitment toward accessibility. This support should come from many levels including an institution’s governing board, administrators, and key personnel. Each must actively support, participate, and take ownership in the work and outcomes of accessibility.
Where You Are:
The first section of the research project will survey all Oklahoma Higher Education Institution websites for compliance to future web accessibility standards and guidelines (WCAG 2.0). WebAIM and OK ABLE Tech will provide analysis and prepare individual reports. Institutions will participate via a Memorandum of Understanding.
Where You Need to Be:
Institutions will be provided with individual reports and analysis comparing current web accessibility to future WCAG 2.0 standards. Aggregate reporting will be provided and will not identify institutions by name. Individual reports will allow for a comparison of accessibility to other anonymous Oklahoma Higher Education Institutions.
How to Get There:
Fall 2012, Web AIM and Oklahoma ABLE Tech will train stakeholders (administration and developers) at a two-day meeting to provide the specific tools, techniques, and resources needed to promote and develop an accessible web presence. Over a multi-year process, institutions will be guided through a multi-modal approach to develop a detailed plan of action resulting in improved web accessibility and compliance to the revised standards.