Mobile Web Accessibility and Government Compliance

Mobile Web Accessibility and Government Compliance

Christian Sonnenberg (Florida Institute of Technology, USA) and Shirley Ann Becker (Florida Institute of Technology, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch752
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Background

The design and accessibility of government websites today is largely driven by a particular set of criteria known as Section 508. This amendment, which went into effect in June 2001, requires all federal agencies to comply with accessibility standards administered by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (referred to as the Access Board)2. These standards ensure that electronic and information technology is accessible to disabled persons to the extent it does not pose an “undue burden” on an agency. When Section 508 went into effect, federal agencies could no longer procure noncompliant electronic and information technology (Charles, 2001). This meant that vendors, who supply hardware, software, Web, telecommunications, and other information technologies, must ensure compliance with Section 508 in order to obtain government contracts.

The Access Board put together the Electronic and Information Technology Access Advisory Committee (EITAAC) in order to develop the Section 508 standards. The EITAAC is comprised of industry, government, academic, and disability advocacy organizations. The EITAAC (1999) originally developed generic standards that were organized into three areas including: (1) accessibility of operation and information, (2) compatibility with peripheral devices, and (3) documentation and services associated with electronic and information technology. The committee made recommendations for implementation of Section 508, formalized a definition of electronic and information technology for interpreting the statute, and developed recommendations for procurement processes.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mobile Device: Any handheld technology that allows the user to operate the device in transit. This includes such items as smartphones and tablets.

Color Deficiency: Color deficient vision results in an inability to distinguish certain colors and shades when compared to normal vision.

Web Accessibility: Web accessibility means that a person, regardless of disabilities, is able to use Web technology without encountering any barriers.

Electronic and Information Technology: Information technology and any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment used in the creation, conversion, or duplication of data or information ( www.access-board.gov ).

Screen Reader: Speech synthesis software used by a vision-impaired person to read aloud what is displayed on a computer screen.

Assistive Technology: Equipment, device, or other product that assists a disabled user in performing tasks that otherwise would be difficult or not possible to accomplish.

Section 508: Amendment to the 1973 Rehabilitation Act requiring federal agencies to make electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.

Motor Disabilities: Physical impairments that can impede movement, coordination, or sensation. They can include weakness and lack of muscle control.

Digital Divide: The digital divide is the gap between those who have access to electronic and information technology and those who do not.

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