May 17 2013

Social Media Accessibility

Category: Agency Shared Practices, Website AccessibilityBuyAccessible Team @ 10:00 am

Social media is increasingly becoming the communication option of choice. Not only has it increased the number of outlets by which we all receive information and communicate, but the collaborative aspect allows people and groups to create, share, organize, edit, combine and distribute content easily. Forms of social media include blogs, microblogs, podcasts, RSS feeds, social media releases (SMR), social networks (e.g., MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn), web chat, wikis, video and virtual worlds.

Government agencies must comply with Section 508 accessibility requirements when using any of these web-based collaboration tools. In the future, nongovernmental users of social media may have more responsibility to ensure accessible web content too, as the Department of Justice may issue regulations for websites under Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act covered topics such as captions on internet videos.

Making social media accessible presents some unique challenges. Much of the information and content is user generated. This requires more people to be knowledgeable about and pay attention to ways of ensuring that web content is accessible to persons with disabilities. Additionally, the publishing venues and platforms should support accessibility by making it easier to create accessible content. When government members use social media, compliance with Section 508 must be taken into account to ensure that the most accessible tools are selected and that accessibility features are activated.

Publishing this very blog, Accessibility Forum 2.0, was our chance to apply these requirements to an actual collaborative site. An earlier post discussed what we did to build in accessibility; we’d like to hear of your efforts to make social media accessible to all.


Dec 10 2012

Making Accessible Mobile Apps

Category: Website Accessibility, accessibilityBuyAccessible Team @ 12:33 pm

It seems like there is an app for everything under the sun these days. Making a website accessible to people with disabilities and accessible for mobile devices is often very similar. GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies sponsors to help the Federal agencies with their mobile gov activities. One page discusses accessibility of mobile apps, and has links for help specific to Apple, Android, and Blackberry apps.
Advice on testing, including testing for accessibility, is also offered.

We are not responsible for the content on these sites.


Apr 05 2012

Spring Cleaning Your Website

Category: Website AccessibilityBuyAccessible Team @ 9:46 am

It’s the time of year for Spring cleaning, time to sweep out those dust bunnies that have been collecting under your couch all Winter long. How about hopping on over to your website to see if it needs some cleaning up too? When is the last time you checked your agency’s website to see if it was Section 508 compliant and accessible to people with disabilities? There tools to help you do that, as well as other information at website accessibility. If you have any questions, please let us know. Happy Spring cleaning!

Mar 09 2012

Should Information, Documentation and Support be Required for All Product Solicitations?

Category: Acquisition Process, Is it E&IT?, Website AccessibilityBuyAccessible Team @ 12:14 pm

How many Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) products that you buy include product support information on the Internet? We are willing to guess many of them! When product support information is provided on the web for products that are likely to be used by government staff, then that information is EIT subject to Section 508 Subpart D — Information, Documentation, and Support (Section 1194.41). Since the support material is delivered over the Internet, the provisions of Section 1194.22, Web-based intranet and internet information and applications, are also applicable. If the support materials include video, then that video is also subject to the provisions of Video and Multimedia Products (Section 1194.24). It is important to let vendors know about these agency requirements in your solicitations.

For example, if you are buying a printer that has product support documentation on the web, you need to require that the printer vendor supply documentation as to how their on-line documents conform to the Section 508 guidelines for web documentation.

Jan 31 2012

Web Accessibility Myths

Category: Website AccessibilityBuyAccessible Team @ 10:46 am

Recently we read an interesting article on Web Accessibility Myths. A few interesting myths the author discussed were:

  • Accessibility and inclusive design are anti-creative
  • The most important accessibility requirement for images is alt-text
  • It doesn’t matter if your mobile site/app isn’t accessible, just as long as the desktop version is

We are not endorsing the organization sponsoring this website (see our blog policy), but are happy to see dialog about this important topic.

Dec 20 2011

These are a few of my favorite things

Category: BuyAccessible, Website AccessibilityBuyAccessible Team @ 11:00 am

As a gift to you, here are links to a few of our favorite accessibility resources:

  • Accessibility Resource Center: a list of company websites with links to their product and services accessibility information
  • Quick Links: quick and easy pre-packaged Section 508 documentation for a number of standard EIT deliverables, for example solicitation language and guidance to help develop VPATS.
  • Section 508 resources: free resources and tools published on site
  • Accessibility Forum 2.0 blog: We have been publishing this blog for a year and a half now. Check out the categories and tags on the right to find past posts. You can also use the search function to find topics. If you have ideas for things you would like us to write about in the future, you can submit a comment below.
  • GovLoop: an online social network where we have conversations with people working for and with the government. We use it to have conversations about accessibility and acquisition.
  • WAVE: a free web accessibility evaluation tool to find accessibility issues with web pages.

Happy Holidays from the BuyAccessible Team!

Jun 21 2011

CIO Council’s Accessibility Best Practices Library

Category: Acquisition Process, Announcements, Website AccessibilityRobert Baker @ 3:08 pm

The CIO Council Accessibility Committee has just published the Accessibility Best Practices Library.

The library is the first deliverable created by the Best Practices Subcommittee under the auspices of the recently established CIO Council Accessibility Committee. A committee of Section 508 coordinators and implementation experts from a broad spectrum of federal agencies are developing repeatable, transferable processes and guidance to help successfully implement Section 508.

To better leverage the experience of Section 508 practitioners like you, please recommend examples from your agency. Please take some time to review this page and share your agency practices via the Best Practices Submission Form at the bottom of the page.

Robert Baker, PMP
SSA Section 508 Coordinator
Social Security Administration

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Apr 05 2011

NPR interview about Section 508

Category: Announcements, Website AccessibilityTerry Weaver @ 1:11 pm

On Tuesday March 29, I had the opportunity to be a guest on the Kojo Nnamdi NPR radio show talking about Technology and Accessibility. We talked about the federal government’s efforts to make websites more accessible and Section 508.
A recording is available on-line, as well as a transcript.

Mar 29 2011

Accessibility of documents on websites

Category: Acquisition Process, Is it E&IT?, Website AccessibilityBuyAccessible Team @ 9:00 am

How often do your contractors or internal staff create information deliverables, like reports, that you intend to put on the web? If you plan to make reports available through a link on website, then it becomes subject to Section 508 Provisions from 1194.22, 1194.31, and 1198.41(a) apply.

  • 1194.22 Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications- Some of its provisions apply to reports on the web, for example (a) providing text equivalents for non-text elements like images, (c) information conveyed with color is also available without color, (g) row and column headers for data tables, and (n) making electronic forms accessible
  • 1194.31 Functional Performance Criteria- Need to assure that the document can be used with assistive technology like a screen reader.
  • 1194.41(a) Information, Documentation, and Support- Reports should be provided alternate formats upon request

Additionally, if the report contains interactive elements, then 1194.21 Software and Operating Systems also applies.

Here are some reference materials that may be helpful:


Feb 11 2011

New Media, Old Accessibility?

Category: Website AccessibilityBuyAccessible Team @ 11:36 am

Web 2.0 technologies (a.k.a. new media) provide opportunities for agencies to disseminate and collect information in new and exciting ways. Wikis, blogs and social networking sites are all examples of connecting people electronically. Agencies are already working on policies, regulations and guidance on the use of Web 2.0 media.

But what about existing regulations – such as Section 508. Well, as it turns out Web 2.0 technologies are mostly new uses and combinations of existing “Web 1.0″ technologies! According to Wikipedia, “It does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users utilize the Web.” Therefore, EIT accessibility considerations for Web 2.0 should be in part be based on existing EIT accessibility standards. While existing Section 508 technical requirements may apply to Web 2.0 technology, it likely to be in new combinations and ways to fit the physical and functional characteristics of the new technologies. We view the world of Web 2.0 as:

  • Social networking
  • Collaboration, Co-Inventing and Problem Solving
  • Publishing and Enterprise Search
  • Virtual Worlds

Upcoming posts will explore accessibility in each of these categories. Stay tuned and get in on the discussion!


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