Posted on 02/26/2015
By James Millican, Senior Product Manager
Creating software that is accessible and meets several governed standards can be difficult and time-consuming in execution. However, there are no shortcuts around it; as we continue to develop and offer services through web-based applications, it’s imperative that the provided benefits are available to everyone.
This topic is more relevant than ever, and I look forward to presenting on Software Accessibility Standards at the 2015 CAPPA Technology and Leadership Conference this Friday, February 25. In this session we will focus on following Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and W3C standards to provide an accessible interface for your users, employees and customers.
There are several guidelines for web accessibility, such as ADA compliance, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. These standards are developed to ensure that people with disabilities are able to use a web service as fully as those without a disability. Specifically, Section 508 guidelines are designed to facilitate individuals with disabilities that fall within these 4 main categories:
Visual – Blindness, low vision, color-blindness
Hearing – Deafness and hard-of-hearing
Motor – Inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited fine motor control
Cognitive – Learning disabilities, distractibility, inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information
Section 508 Standards for software include:
You can read all of the Section 508 Standards for software here.
The Federal law can carry over to institutions receiving federal funds, which can greatly impact technology servicing the Higher Education market. Many universities have adopted Section 508 or similar standards, meaning they do not utilize any program that does not provide accessibility for all.
But more than just adhering to regulations, following standards often makes a web page or program more user-friendly for everyone.
For example, images, graphs, and charts without additional information is lost information for the blind. However, the computer can read accompanying text that describes the graph. The redundancy is an added bonus to those who can see, as repetition can increase the likelihood of retention1.
This is an example of a Section 508-compliant column chart. It includes text that gives the same information as the visual aid.
During my presentation at CAPPA Tech, we will discuss the importance and challenges of developing and implementing accessible software. The goal is to help the audience understand regulations and auditing gaps, and give recommendations to help them get started. There are also many resources to help you get your website or web-based application up to accessibility standards: