[nfbmi-talk] Fw: not the only site with pro blems

David Robinson drob1946 at gmail.com
Tue Jul 14 13:37:40 UTC 2015

----- Original Message ----- 
From: joe harcz Comcast 
To: David Robinson NFB MI 
Cc: terry Eagle ; Mark Eagle ; MARK MCWILLIAMS MPAS ; Elmer Cerano MPAS ; BRIAN SABOURIN ; Marlene Malloy MCRS Dir. ; Sarah Gravetti MISILC DNM ; Rodney Craig MISILC ; Laura Hall ; Scott Heinzman ADAPT ; Daniel Levy 
Sent: Monday, July 13, 2015 10:39 AM
Subject: not the only site with pro blems

The state of Michigan has thousands of web pages not fully accessible. And they don't make documents accessible to me in a timely manner either.

But, this story does articulate these facts.

Joe Harcz
Education department to make website more accessible Lori Higgins, Detroit Free Press The Michigan Department of Education has a mountainous task ahead

of it to comply with a federal directive and make its website accessible to people with disabilities. The brunt of that task: Captioning up to 800 videos

and taking up to 8,000 documents and either converting them so they're accessible to people with visual impairments or deleting them from the website,

www.michigan.gov/mde . The changes will make it easier for people with disabilities, particularly those with visual and hearing impairments, to access

material on the site. "This is the right thing to do," said Martin Ackley, spokesman for the MDE. "People with disabilities want to participate and watch

the videos or read things on the website. We understand that. Related : Summer at school? Cranbrook hosts Detroit teens The department entered into a voluntary

resolution agreement with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights ' stemming from a federal complaint that alleged the MDE was discriminating

against people with disabilities. But the agreement will have time-consuming, potentially costly and far-reaching implications. The cost of compliance

is unknown, Ackley said. And it'll become part of an effort across all state departments to ensure all websites, documents and printed materials are accessible

to people with disabilities. Advocate's complaint It began with a complaint filed in February 2014 by Marcie Lipsitt of Franklin, an outspoken advocate

for people with disabilities. The MDE at the time had created a special page on its website to provide information and seek public comment about some controversial

proposed changes to special education rules. And Lipsitt was outraged because the only way people could comment was by logging onto a website or sending

comments through the regular mail. "I had serious concerns about the accessibility to adults with disabilities who wanted to provide input," Lipsitt said.

MDE later began allowing e-mail comments. Related: EAA chancellor tightens reins over grant for teachers The civil rights agency found that the web page

itself was accessible. Anyone who uses some type of assistive technology to read a web page ' like a screen reader or speech recognition program ' could

do so. But the videos and PDF documents on the page had problems. The videos, for instance, were captioned but the buttons on the videos weren't properly

labeled. That meant a screen reader used by a visually impaired person would be unable to find the play button. And, while PDF documents reviewed were

accessible in some ways, neither allowed a person using screen-reading software to identify the document. The civil rights agency also noted that the site

didn't provide a way for people to report problems accessing information. In addition, the department was flagged because the nondiscrimination notice

on its website didn't specify that it doesn't discriminate on the basis of disability. Whole website While the complaint addressed one page on the website,

MDE's agreement covers the entire website. The agreement requires MDE designate an employee or employees to ensure the department's website complies with

federal rules. Some employees will be trained. Ackley said the volume of work required means the website will be fully accessible by June 2017. "This is

going to eventually affect every state department," Ackley said. "We'll be the first agency to become fully compliant. Caleb Buhs, spokesman for the state

Department of Technology, Management and Budget, said it's been a priority for years to ensure state websites and documents are accessible. The DTMB oversees

all state websites. "We have a tool we can run across a site that alerts us to any ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) issues," Buhs said. But now there's

a broader effort. The state will soon finalize plans to ensure accessibility across all departments. More complaints Lipsitt has filed similar complaints

against other public agencies, including Oakland Community College, where her son Andrew Lipsitt takes classes. OCC recently entered into a voluntary resolution

agreement, according to a letter Lipsitt received recently from the civil rights agency. Janet Roberts, spokeswoman for OCC, said she couldn't comment

on specifics. "We are aware of the situation and actually have been working for more than a year, well before this complaint was registered, to improve

our website," Roberts said. "That process will include a new content management system which allows us to ensure that we are ADA compliant. This is an

important issue for us and we are working to ensure that our site is accessible to all. Contact Lori Higgins: 313-222-6651, lhiggins at freepress.com or @LoriAHiggins


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