Section 508: Perspectives from the State Level
- Diane Cordry Golden, Ph.D.
- National Association of State Chief Information Officers
- Missouri Assistive Technology
Missouri’s Legal Framework
- State statute requires access similar to 508
- Covers state agencies and public higher ed
- Vests oversight with CIO and AT Council
- Requires STATE adoption of access standards
- Used Section 508 technical standards as base
- Adopted software, desktop/portable & documentation
- Modified web, telecom, video & multimedia
- Did not adopt self-contained or functional standards
Modifications to standards
- Web – Changed requirement for 100% synchronized text equivalent provided for every non-text element to phase in levels to get to 100% (live web cast problem, higher ed issues - revisiting schedule now...)
- Telecom – Added specific reference to voice mail/IVR access via relay to ensure access for VCO and HCO users who may or may not be covered by “direct TTY access.”
- Added reference to maximum output (125 dB SPL) and reference to volume reset only when capable of greater than 18 dB gain (attempt to harmonize with FCC).
- Multimedia – Revised requirement for 100% captioning and video description to phase in levels to get to 100% and exempted television broadcasts (deferred to FCC requirements)
- Coverage of state agencies with similar role and function (bureaucratic)
- Much more complicated when applied to higher ed, K-12 and others
- Gallaudet, DoD K-12 schools, expansive distance education efforts, etc.
- Unique issues with captioning and video description
- Require built in for all or allow to add when needed? (closed distance ed courses, taping of training for absentee employees)
- Captioning doesn’t deliver access (young children, ASL need)
- Concept of “line of products” not included in 508 (is in 255)
- Glucometers, thermometers, etc.
- Amplified telephones
Specific Procurement Issues
- How do you verify conformance to the access standards?
- How do you rate the degree access?
- How does the access rating fit into overall procurement decision making?
Verifying Conformance to the Access Standards
- Option 1 – Vendor assurance of 100% conformance
- + Easy for state, liability shift to vendor (no cost fix)
- - Limited commercial availability, naive vendor assurance
- Option 2 – Vendor provided data, state review
- + Balanced responsibility between vendors and state
- - Poor data from vendor, requires expertise to do reviews, requires consistent review procedures to be valid
- Option 3 – Direct product testing
- + Consistent, defendable results (if protocols are valid & reliable)
- - Extremely high resource demand: technical expertise, testing protocol development, standards should be “testable”
- - 3rd party testing labs, timelines, conflict of interest (voting)
Examples of Paper Responses
Standard: When software is designed to run on a system that has a keyboard, product functions shall be executable from a keyboard...
- “Most system functions can be executed via the keyboard.”
- “Product is designed to use the mouse; however the keyboard can also be used to navigate the application.”
- “Functions are executable from the keyboard unless specifically designed to work with a mouse control.”
Standard: Sufficient information about a user interface element, including the identify, operation and state of the element shall be available to assistive technology.
- “If the user is able to use assistive technology with the operating system, then they should be able to use our software.”
- “Users with access needs will use the features provided by the browser.”
Access Rating and Decision-Making
Procurement decision-making typically includes:
- Cost (objective assignment of points/value)
- Performance (ability to meet business needs, subjective rating)
- Conformance to access standards
- Rarely results in “met – not met” outcome
- Usually subjective rating of some form in “degrees”
How is accessibility review/rating done?
- Points assigned to each access standard or holistic rating?
- Are all standards in an area (software) equally important to access?
- If not, how should the standards be weighed to yield a valid rating?
How should access review/rating influence the final decision?
- Where does the access rating fit in best value decision-making?
- Is there a bottom cut-off where nothing “best meets” access standards?
- Voter Registration System (custom app based on COTS product)
- 297 Technical Specs, including 29 web and software access standards.
- If each is weighed equally (access part of business needs review) access rating would have had no real impact in decision-making.
- If use 3 ratings (cost = 50, business need = 30, access = 20) access rating has more influence, but still easily overrun by other ratings.
- To ensure some baseline level of accessibility, the review/rating could include an “unacceptable” option reflecting an access rating so low that regardless of other factors the product was not procured.
- Court Case and Docket Management System (mostly COTS)
- Three bids – costs almost the same, A and B are acceptable for technical specs but unacceptable accessibility, C is not acceptable for technical specs and barely adequate for access.
- “Best meets” for access alone would purchase product C. Best meets access combined with business need would allow for purchase of inaccessible A or B.
What would help?
- Clearly understood technical access standards with valid mechanisms for rating conformance
- Binary individual rating with all standards equal in weight; or
- Identified relative weight of each standard within the group
- Reliable, valid review procedures (rating systems, etc.)
- Clearly defined role of accessibility in the procurement process
- Some way to ensure a baseline level of access is delivered without sacrificing business need and cost considerations
- Clearly understood and communication role of each in decision making to support transparency of process