[nfbwatlk] Fwd: Federal Government Not Complying with Web Site Accessibility Requirements, Study Indicates

David Andrews dandrews at visi.com
Fri May 20 00:22:40 UTC 2011


>Chris Danielsen
>Director of Public Relations
>National Federation of the Blind
>(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
>(410) 262-1281 (Cell)
><mailto:cdanielsen at nfb.org>cdanielsen at nfb.org
>Federal Government Not Complying with Web Site
>  Accessibility Requirements, Study Indicates
>National Federation of the Blind Expresses Outrage, Demands Swift Action
>Baltimore, Maryland (May 19, 2011): A study that has just been 
>published online in the journal 
>Information Quarterly has found that of one-hundred Web sites 
>operated by federal government agencies, over 90 percent do not 
>comply with government accessibility guidelines and likely cannot be 
>used by people who are blind or have other perceptual or motor 
>disabilities.  The study, entitled "Accessibility of U.S. federal 
>government home pages: Section 508 compliance and site accessibility 
>statements" and coauthored by Doctoral Student Abiodun Olalere and 
>Professor Jonathan Lazar of Towson University, found that the home 
>pages of over 90 percent of the Web sites they evaluated contained 
>violations of the government's own guidelines for compliance with 
>Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  That law requires 
>that government electronic and information technology be accessible 
>to people with disabilities.
>Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, 
>said: "Blind Americans are outraged that the government is failing 
>to comply with its own guidelines to make government information and 
>services available to citizens with disabilities.  Given the clear 
>legal requirements of Section 508 and the fact that use of the 
>Internet is critical to education, employment, access to government 
>benefits and services, and all other aspects of modern life, there 
>is no excuse for failure to follow and rigorously enforce these 
>guidelines.  We demand that officials in all branches of government 
>take immediate steps to bring all federal Web sites into compliance 
>with the law, and we pledge to continue to hold the federal 
>government accountable if it continues to treat the blind and others 
>with disabilities as second-class citizens."
>The study evaluated the home pages of one-hundred government Web 
>sites across all three branches of the federal government, including 
>executive agencies, independent agencies, government corporations 
>(e.g. Amtrak), the United States Congress, the United States Supreme 
>Court, United States federal courts, and "open government" Web sites 
>like <http://www.usajobs.gov>www.usajobs.gov and 
><http://www.ready.gov>www.ready.gov.  The authors utilized both 
>automated-software tools and human-expert inspections on each home 
>page, and determined that over 90 percent of the home pages were not 
>in compliance with the Section 508 regulations.
>Most of the accessibility problems were common ones that are easily 
>resolved, such as unlabeled images, mislabeled forms or tables, 
>videos without captioning, flash without any textual equivalents, 
>and lack of keyboard equivalents for mouse-over actions. The authors 
>noted that this is not a problem unique to one agency.  Similar 
>problems occur on multiple agency Web sites, and the core problem is 
>the lack of consistent compliance activities and enforcement 
>throughout the federal government.
>The study makes several recommendations to increase compliance, 
>including improved resources on complying with the guidelines; 
>better documentation of best practices; publishing of information 
>about which agencies are compliant and noncompliant with 
>accessibility guidelines as part of the open government dashboard; 
>and better enforcement and monitoring procedures within government 
>agencies, such as the loss of Web-posting privileges for repeatedly 
>posting inaccessible content.
>About the National Federation of the Blind
>With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind 
>is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind 
>people in the United States.  The NFB improves blind people's lives 
>through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs 
>encouraging independence and self-confidence.  It is the leading 
>force in the blindness field today and the voice of the nation's 
>blind.  In January 2004 the NFB opened the National Federation of 
>the Blind Jernigan Institute, the first research and training center 
>in the United States for the blind led by the blind.

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