Tag Archives: standards

The Section 508 Refresh is Here! 

We’re excited to announce that the U.S. Access Board has published its long-awaited update(link is external) to the federal regulations covering the accessibility of information and communications technology (Section 508) and telecommunications products and services (Section 255).

What are Section 508 and Section 255?

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 applies to federal government agencies and the technology providers that sell to them. It requires that all information and communications technology (ICT) the federal government develops, procures, maintains, and uses be accessible to people with disabilities. This ensures that (1) Federal employees with disabilities have comparable access to, and use of, information and data relative to other federal workers, and (2) members of the public with disabilities receive comparable access to publicly-available information and services.

Section 508 applies to a wide range of technology products, including computer hardware and software, websites, video/multimedia products, phone systems, and copiers.

Section 255 of the Communications Act applies to telecommunications equipment manufacturers and service providers. It requires that telecommunications equipment and services be accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities.

Why did the Access Board update these rules?

The Access Board updated and reorganized the Section 508 standards and Section 255 guidelines in response to market trends and innovations. Section 508 was last updated in 2000, and technology has evolved significantly since then. For example, in some cases different technological systems are now capable of performing similar tasks.

PEAT and other technology and disability experts anticipate that the updated rules will generate significant benefits for individuals with disabilities, including:

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Read full article at Source: The Section 508 Refresh is Here! | Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT)

Grand Rapids YMCA first building to adopt universal design standards

…how do you design a new building to ensure that it serves the needs of all users? Inclusive design can make that happen.

UB’s Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center), in collaboration with the Global Universal Design Commission, has developed the first set of universal design certification standards for commercial buildings, looking to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines as a model.

The first facility to adopt these standards and become certified — the Mary Free Bed YMCA in Grand Rapids, Michigan — opened its doors to the public Dec. 7.

The IDeA Center, which is housed in the School of Architecture and Planning, started developing the universal design guidelines in 2009.

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– See more at: http://www.buffalo.edu/ubreporter/research/news.host.html/content/shared/university/news/ub-reporter-articles/stories/2016/01/ymca_universal_design.detail.html#sthash.jpWmZkGO.qTj72oA6.dpuf

Why Accessibility Will Matter More in 2016 and Beyond

It’s easy to believe everyone uses computers the same way until you actually watch friends and family struggling with theirs. If only developers were encouraged to test user interfaces on all computer devices in real life situations.

Since they are not expected to perform this type of testing, what marketers end up with are web pages and software applications intended to work for a small percentage of people.  It may not seem evident that any performance issues even exist until the data in production signals trouble.  And that’s the eternal roadblock every internet marketer faces sooner or later.  They have achieved rank, links, inbound traffic and every other marketing requirement and yet the data indicates high bounce rates, poor referrals, low conversions and various other signals of dismal performance.

What’s happening?

Traditionally, one of the next steps is to hire a usability consultant to perform a website audit.  A few are capable of software functional and user interface testing forms and applications such as shopping carts, travel reservation applications or proprietary internet software, but most are not trained for this.  For years a basic usability review consisting of a heuristics review and cognitive walk through covered basic web page usability standards compliance.  Later, persuasive design, conversions and customer experience design were added to help create even more robust site audits.

That last step was supported by the findings from the human factors and neuroscience fields, which exploded with studies on human computer behavior.  How we do anything online, from search queries to online ordering, is evaluated by people all around the world and their reports eventually reach people like me who apply their information to enhance the user experience for clients’ websites.

Accessibility Remains A Low Priority

Accessibility is a word that is beginning to lose its home.  The same thing happened with usability.  In fact, many in the internet marketing industry don’t use the term “usability” anymore because it is, for starters, vague and inexact. They find that terms like “conversions”, “user experience”, “user intent”, “customer experience”, “conversions experience” and “customer satisfaction” are more accurate phrases and indeed, they offer a more precise description.  Still, there are no formal standards for those terms, or testing methodology regimen performed uniformly by marketers who provide site audits that include conversions analysis.  For example, there are no heuristics for conversions testing to follow.  And even though usability standards and heuristics exist, some have changed over the years.

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Read full article at Source: Why Accessibility Will Matter More in 2016 and Beyond

Answer Line: Accessibility question a tough one to answer – Longview News-Journal – Longview, TX

I’m going to tell you what I found to be some of the applicable standards and tell you how you can file a complaint if you still think this building might be violating those standards. What I will not do is issue an opinion on whether the building meets accessibility standards, because I can tell you that after spending just a little time trying to read and understand the many requirements, I am certain I’m not qualified to make such a judgement.

I will start by telling you, though, that Texas has its own accessibility standards and a permitting and inspection process in place to try to ensure this kind of new construction is accessible to people with disabilities. I’m told the state standards pretty much are the same as the federal standards. The difference is that Texas takes a proactive approach by being involved in implementing those standards during the construction process instead of enforcing them only on a complaint basis after construction is finished.

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Read full article at Source: Answer Line: Accessibility question a tough one to answer – Longview News-Journal – Longview, TX