In response to the need to insure equal access to electronic and information technologies, OESC utilizes a set of standards for Web page design. Just as environmental obstacles have inhibited individuals with disabilities, the Web poses an entirely new set of obstacles. In recognition of those individuals with visual, physical or developmental disabilities OESC has adopted a policy to make government information accessible to all.
It has been estimated that 54 million people or 20.6 percent of all Americans have some level of disability. According to the Disability Statistics Center:
- People with disabilities will work in greater numbers, in part because of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Between 1991 and 1994, the number of disabled Americans employed increased by more than 1.1 million, according to the Census Bureau. Employment rates for young adults with severe disabilities are triple that of their older counterparts.
- Education rates for people with disabilities are increasing: 75 percent of them finished high school in 1994, up from 60% in 1986; their college enrollment leapt from 29 percent to 44 percent.
- Technological advances are eliminating many of the physical and informational barriers that have long existed for people with disabilities.
- Public awareness of disability issues is growing and changing.
- America's population is aging, and disability increases with age. The number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to increase 135% between 1995 and 2050, according to the Census Bureau.
- Instructions will be provided for individuals with disabilities, visual disabilities and for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
These standards are influenced by those recommended by the W3C and Access Board Section 508 Guidelines. The Access Board is responsible for developing the standards outlined by the amended Rehabilitation Act of 1998. Universal design calls for appropriate use auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure communication.
OESC has adopted the Design of HTML Pages to increase accessibility to users with disabilities as the primary guideline to meet the objectives of the Universal Access for State Design policy. These published guidelines are maintained by professionals trained in the area of assistive and information technology.
OESC embraces these standards and will be evaluating our site on a regular basis, increasing the opportunity for all individuals to access information over the Internet. The Universal Access Design Standards are being integrated into this web site and will continue to evolve as new technologies and opportunities emerge.
- A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided via "alt" (alternative text attribute), "longdesc" (long description tag), or in element content.
- Web pages shall be designed so that all information required for navigation or meaning is not dependent on the ability to identify specific colors.
- Changes in the natural language (e.g., English to French) of a document's text and any text equivalents shall be clearly identified.
- Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet.
- Web pages shall update equivalents for dynamic content whenever the dynamic content changes.
- Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map.
- Client-side image maps shall be used whenever possible in place of server-side image maps.
- Data tables shall provide identification of row and column headers.
- Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers.
- Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation.
- Pages shall be usable when scripts, applets, or other programmatic objects are turned off or are not supported, or shall provide equivalent information on an alternative accessible page.
- Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation.
- An appropriate method shall be used to facilitate the easy tracking of page content that provides users of assistive technology the option to skip repetitive navigation links.
- Background colors will be avoided since color schemes can create problems with legibility.
- Multiple browser testing will be conducted on the current versions of Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorer and Lynx.
In addition to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, OESC recognizes Section 508 standards are more specific in specific areas:
- Flicker 1194.22 (j) Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.
- Skip Navigation 1194.22 (o) A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links
- Timed Responses 1194.22 (p) When a timed response is required, a user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required.
access.adobe.com - this site provides tools to help visually disabled users whose screen reader software is not compatible with the Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0. These online tools convert PDF documents into either HTML or ASCII text, which can then be read by a number of common screen reader programs. These tools approximate the logical reading order of the text in an Adobe PDF document and reformat it into a single column of text.