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The new electronic and online technologies developed in the last decade have helped people all across the country communicate, do business, and achieve their goals. However, certain barriers to access in electronic and information technology have impacted many people with disabilities. Just as buildings today have ramps and curb cuts to make them more accessible, technology professionals must construct their products and services so that they are accessible to people with other types of disabilities. This document covers the laws that impact electronic and information technology, the tools that are available to evaluate compliance, and the resources that can help business and government make products and services more usable by all people.

LAWS

Section 508 (Federal)

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act is a federal law that provides for accessibility standards for electronic and information technology purchased or maintained by the federal government. Section 508 requires that federal agencies ensure that such technology is accessible to all federal employees with disabilities and people with disabilities seeking information or services from the federal government, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. These regulations do not apply to the private sector (except for products sold to the federal government), or to recipients of federal funding.

Section 508 Links:

Federal IT Accessibility Initiative

Department of Justice Section 508 page:

Department of Justice Section 508 Self-Evaluation

Learn About Section 508 Requirements and Responsibilities

WebAIM: Section 508 Checklist


Section 255 (Federal)

Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is a federal law the provides for accessibility standards on communication technology. Section 255 requires that manufacturers of telecommunications equipment and customer premises equipment ensure that such equipment is designed, developed, and fabricated to be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, if readily achievable. If accessibility is not readily achievable, the manufacturer must make the equipment compatible with peripheral devices used by people with disabilities, if that is readily achievable.


The Americans with Disabilities Act (Federal): A guide to disability rights law

ADA.gov


Senate Bill 801 (Texas)

In 1999, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 801, which provides that state agencies shall design their websites so that they meet generally acceptable standards for Internet accessibility for people with disabilities. This law applies only to state agencies. The Texas Department of Information Resources subsequently drafted accessibility guidelines for state agency websites.

Senate Bill 801 Links:

Texas Government Code, Chapter 2001:

Texas Department of Information Resources Web Accessibility Guidelines

Public Electronic Services On-the-Internet (PESO) Working Group

Technology Access Clause (Texas)

Texas Government Code ยง 2157.005 provides that all state contracts for the purchase of automated information systems must contain a clause that provides that state funds may not be expended in connection with the purchase of such systems unless the systems provide equivalent access to persons with visual impairments.

Technology Access Clause Links:

Texas Government Code, Chapter 2157

Bill regarding Technology Access

TOOLS

The WAVE

The WAVE is another tool that tests your site for accessibility. It checks fewer guidelines than does Bobby, but provides information in an easy-to-understand format.

13 Essential Tools to Check Cross-Browser Compatibility

With an endless combination of modern and legacy browsers for users to choose from (depending on their system capabilities), it's our responsibility as designers and developers to ensure the websites we build perform adequately.

Lynx Viewer

This site allows you to type in any URL and see how it would look to a visitor who was using the text-based browser called Lynx. This browser allows web page designers to see how their sites would look on a hand-held text-only device or from the perspective of a person with disabilities.

RESOURCES

Making Your Web Page Accessible to People With Disabilities

The Texas Assistive Technology Partnership at the University of Texas surveyed Texas state agency web sites for accessibility, and has identified ten common web accessibility problems, along with simple, common sense solutions.

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

The TSVBI website contains information about Internet accessibility as well as links to resources on assistive technology, training opportunities, accessible textbooks, and other disability technology information.

World Wide Web Consortium - Web Accessibility Initiative

The Web Accessibility Initiative has authored comprehensive guidelines for Internet accessibility. This document provides expert technical assistance in writing HTML code for accessible images, frames, video, and keyboard shortcuts.

National Center for Accessible Media

The National Center for Accessible Media is a research and development organization that works with major software and hardware manufacturers, the federal government and others to distribute information and technology to make the Web more accessible for everyone.

Knowbility, Inc.

Knowbility is an Austin-based national nonprofit organization that works with community partners and the information technology industry to design more accessible websites. Knowbility sponsors Internet rallies to train web designers on access principles.

Trace Research and Development Center

The Trace Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is dedicated to making standard information technologies and telecommunications systems more accessible and usable by people with disabilities. The center works with government groups, industry leaders, and disability organizations to improve access to computer hardware and software. The website provides information about various accessibility resources, including speech synthesizers, head pointers and mouthsticks, and tips on making PDF files accessible.

Equal Access to Software and Information (EASI)

The Rochester Institute for Technology's EASI website features distance education seminars and online workshops on computer and information access to people with disabilities. The website includes a Web Access Kit and information about library access and access to science and math materials.