A federal agency wishes to collect feedback from citizens regarding a potential change to their programs, but the form’s fields cannot be read by a screen reader.
A long-time federal employee develops a severe hand tremor and the computer program he has worked with for years is not compatible with voice-recognition software.
A helpful video is posted on an agency’s website, but it does not include captions or a transcript for constituents who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The Law: Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
First passed: 1973
Recently refreshed: 2017
Applies to: Federal agencies, their contractors, and vendors
Requires: Information and communications technology (ICT) must be accessible to persons with disabilities.
ICT includes: Software, websites, web applications, and hardware.
Digital accessibility refers to the ability of users with disabilities to effectively use information technology (IT) systems including websites, mobile or web-based applications, software, and hardware. Digital accessibility is generally concerned with ensuring that IT systems are designed in such a way that they interact appropriately with assistive technologies.
Assistive technologies can include:
Screen readers, Braille keypads, or screen magnification software so users who are blind or low vision can read your content.
Voice recognition software that helps those with mobility disabilities (even arthritis) navigate the web and type using only their voice.
Head pointers and switch devices that allow those with more limited movement navigate without using their hands or a traditional mouse.
Some of our elders remember the days when a computer filled an entire room. Now, we have computers in our pockets. So many aspects of our lives are made easier by technology.
Yet, those with disabilities are often left out when hardware, software, websites, and apps are designed without a thought for their needs.
A tablet at the doctor’s office has a sign-in program that disables the pinch-to-zoom feature, making it impossible for a woman with low vision to fill out her medical history.
An online learning portal uses automatically-generated captions on their videos, leaving a deaf student at a loss for words. Literally.
A retail website does not include alt text on their product images, so a shopper who is blind cannot “see” what the images show about the laptop bag he wants to buy.
By some estimates, one in five people has a disability that affects their daily life. Having equal access to technology has a profound, enabling effect for people with disabilities.
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