508 compliance

30 Mar 2007 - 2:12am
7 years ago
5 replies
1378 reads
bhakti भक्ति
2006

Hello All,
Sorry for the cross posting.
I am working in a on a software application already in the market for some
period. Now we need to explore the concept of 508 compliance and map our
current product on those guidelines.

Although we have already executed the first phase.I am curious to know -
Has anyone gone through this task before? what steps did you take?

Let me know your opinions / suggestions.

~ Bhakti

Comments

1 Apr 2007 - 11:25pm
beril guvendik
2006

Hi Bakhti,

The question of 508 compliance came up with the application I have been
working on as well. We eventually received sole source exemption and
didn't have to have an official audit of the application but if you want
to claim 100% compliance with section 508, I think the safest bet to get
it audited by a qualified company. Below are the companies I had looked
into for auditing:
- Deque - http://www.deque.com/
- SSB technologies - http://www.ssbtechnologies.com/
- Criterion - http://www.criterion508.com/
And the checklist at WebAIM.org is pretty helpful as it clarifies each
point:
http://www.webaim.org/standards/508/checklist

While we were researching the 508 guidelines, it became clear that
there's a variety of opinion on how to satisfy certain points. The law
in itself is pretty vague. We basically used our best judgement and the
various resources we could find on the web. If you are sensitive to WAI
and XHTML compliance when developing your application, it probably
satisfies most of the Section 508 requirements. The only ones we noticed
that we weren't compliant with were the navigation skip link and the
rules for tables so they were the only ones we had to address.

Good luck with your efforts.
Beril

bhakti भक्ति wrote:
> Hello All,
> Sorry for the cross posting.
> I am working in a on a software application already in the market for some
> period. Now we need to explore the concept of 508 compliance and map our
> current product on those guidelines.
>
> Although we have already executed the first phase.I am curious to know -
> Has anyone gone through this task before? what steps did you take?
>
> Let me know your opinions / suggestions.
>
> ~ Bhakti
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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2 Apr 2007 - 5:07pm
Stephen Dondershine
2007

Hi Bhakti

My name is Steve, and I am a Sr. UI Designer at BEA Systems in San Jose. I
have fairly extensive experience with 508 compliance requirements for both
Web Apps and IDEs.

The good news is that as far as I am aware no one ever really achieves 100%
508 compliance. If you work with a 508 consultant (I personally have worked
with SSB) you will be issued a document called a V-pat which indicates a
percentage of compliance. Merely having the V-pat will get you in the door
for government contracts and indicates that you are *making progress towards
achieving compliance*. Compliance problems in your product will be
prioritized by a consultant when they run an analysis, and if you get most
of the "P1" problems out of the way you will be in pretty good shape.
Eventually, when you reach a certain percentage of compliance you will be
qualified as a 508 compliant product. However, you product may not be "as
compliant" as another developer's who has achieved a higher percentage of
compliance than you have. The level of compliance will be a factor when
clients who require compliance are making decisions about which software to
buy.

I would recommend that you hire a consultant immediately and get a V-pat.
One thing I can tell you is that it is much more difficult to make a Web App
compliant than an IDE. Furthermore, if you are working with legacy
HTML/XHTML code and trying to transform it into compliant code you will have
an uphill battle as it is very expensive in terms of resources and a true
nightmare if you have a lot of complicated Javascript solutions in your
designs.

You can find free 508 compliance validators and software on the Web. That's
a good start. If you are interested in producing really good 508 compliant
designs you may want to download JAWS or some other Web Assistive Technology
browser, so you can actually get a sense of what kind of experience your
User will have when trying to use your product. (The only two disabled User
types you really need to worry about in Software Development are sight and
mobility impaired Users.)

My final comment would be that your company will have to make 508 compliance
a real focus if you actually want to become "compliant}--especially if you
are trying to take a product that already exists and make it compliant. As I
said it is a very expensive proposition in terms of time and resources...

Steve

3 Apr 2007 - 7:35pm
Gordon, Richard E.
2006

If you are not familiar with Section 508 requirements at all, I agree
with Beril's comment,

>I think the safest bet to get it audited by a qualified company.

This also applies to many other countries which have enacted similar
standards. I have found it best when the program manager treats these
types of requirements like any other customer requirements (it says
*shall* for a reason). More often though, I have seen Section 508
compliance put off until the end and then the proverbial stuff hits the
fan.

A certificate from a 508 consulting firm is great, but I would suggest
that there really is no such thing as 100% guaranteed compliance. The
standards just do not allow for an absolute quantification since some
cases may require subjective human judgment as to whether a particular
requirement has been fully met. My 90% compliance rating may be vastly
different from your 90% compliance rating from another firm. I suspect
that the costs of remediation and/or legal costs if you are taken to
court for non-compliance would still be on your company anyway. On the
other hand, government agencies are required by law to procure the
product that *best meets the standard* if there are none that meet all
of the requirements. Since the requirements don't offer any absolute
metrics, an audit from an experienced Section 508 consulting firm would
go a long way as Steve mentioned. The WAI's guidelines offer a slightly
better measuring stick, but the *guidelines* are just that, not the law.
And don't count on getting an exception based on the *undue burden*
clause. If you are building a custom application for a government
client, I would HIGHLY recommend that your contracting folks obtain a
written statement from the customer that specifies exactly what their
Section 508 requirements/expectations are for your product. Yes, that is
plain and simple CYA.

Keep in mind that the only real accessibility standard is whether or not
all users, regardless of disability, can access comparable information.
Bottom line, if they can't you could be considered non-accessible in
spite of whatever accessibility testing you did (Ref: the recent ADA
(not 508) case against Target). I'm sure there are cases where you could
be technically 508 compliant but not truly accessible. At the same time,
you cannot possibly design for every single type of assistive technology
out there or every single disability in the world. I have even seen
interfaces for people who are almost completely locked-in (i.e.
extremely limited motor functions). We often overlook the Subparts C
(Functional Performance Criteria) and D (Information, Documentation and
Support) of the 508 standard which may or may not apply.

Give it your best shot by following the intent of the Section 508
standards and WAI guidelines as much as you can, do whatever testing you
can realistically do, and be prepared to remediate for special cases as
they come up. As long as you are doing that, you should be OK. One
senior accessibility consultant told me that to his knowledge, no one
who responded in good faith to remediate an accessibility complaint had
ever been taken to court (for non-compliance, that is).

There are a lot of simple things you can do such as unplugging your
mouse and checking if you can still access all of the application/site
functions using only your keyboard. Disable JavaScript and CSS and check
the effect. There are browser toolbars available to make this easy.
Listening to your product with JAWS and similar products is one of the
things you should do if at all possible, but screen reader software is
expensive and difficult to learn (at least for me!). On-line validation
tools like Bobby and others are not perfect, but are good to use if your
website is public. If you are *behind the firewall* you aren't so lucky.
One of my favorite resources is Jim Thatcher's web site
http://www.jimthatcher.com/ , but there are plenty of others. Desktop
apps have slightly different standards and you should delve into
whatever resources the OS vendor can provide (MSDN has quite a bit of
info for Windows accessibility). For a windows-based app, you need to
turn on the accessibility features in windows and see how well your
application supports them (high contrast settings, large fonts, etc).

Retrofitting an existing application or website is a bear and can be
expensive. Whenever possible adopt universal design from the start and
life will be much happier. Remember that there are a growing number of
potential users who live with some form of disability which affects
their ability to use information technology. For others, information
technology is their only means to access the rest of the world. Even if
you are not required to meet Section 508 requirements, it is a shame to
exclude them from using your software if a little extra work up front
could make your product accessible. But accessible does not mean usable.
Apply the same usability principles but include users with various
disabilities into your user base/personas. Accessible doesn't have to
mean ugly either - be innovative. It can be really frustrating when a
lot of the newest and coolest technology can't easily be made
accessible, but thankfully there are tons of really smart people out
there who figure out ways to work around those challenges.

Sorry for the long winded post. I know it is not a core requirement for
most of you, but I believe it is important for all of us to at least be
aware of accessibility issues.

Rick Gordon
UI Technical Analyst, SAIC

6 Apr 2007 - 3:18pm
abloodworth
2007

Folks may also be interested to know that you can download copies of the
screen reader software packages JAWS & Window Eyes and use them for free for
40 minutes every time you reboot your computer:
http://www.webaim.org/articles/screenreader_testing/. Though admittedly they
are difficult to learn and you won't get as good data by testing with them
yourself as you would testing real screen reader users (e.g. do the users
*really* use that keyboard shortcut that you think makes it easy to access
your content?), I've found it incredibly eye-opening to spend even a short
amount of time playing with them. Another way developers can see *what it's
really like* to use a screen reader (e.g. you have to find things on a web
page without being able to see it) is by using WebAIM's screen reader
simulator: http://www.webaim.org/simulations/screenreader

Allison Bloodworth
Principal Administrative Analyst
Technology Program Office
University of California, Berkeley
(415) 377-8243
abloodworth at berkeley.edu

9 Apr 2007 - 8:24am
Janna Cameron
2004

For anybody that is taking a first look at accessibility, I'd highly
recommend "Guidelines for Accessible and Usable Web Sites: Observing
Users Who Work with Screen Readers" by Ginny Redish and Mary Frances
Theofanos.
http://redish.net/content/papers/interactions.html

I like this paper because it provides tools and knowledge for problem
solving, instead of a static rule list.

Janna Cameron
Usability Specialist
Desire2Learn Inc
1-519-772-0325 x388
janna.cameron at Desire2Learn.com
http://www.Desire2Learn.com
Measure Your eLearning Success with Desire2Learn's Enterprise eLearning
Suite: www.Desire2Learn.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Allison Bloodworth
Sent: April 6, 2007 4:18 PM
To: discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] 508 compliance

Folks may also be interested to know that you can download copies of the
screen reader software packages JAWS & Window Eyes and use them for free
for 40 minutes every time you reboot your computer:
http://www.webaim.org/articles/screenreader_testing/. Though admittedly
they are difficult to learn and you won't get as good data by testing
with them yourself as you would testing real screen reader users (e.g.
do the users
*really* use that keyboard shortcut that you think makes it easy to
access your content?), I've found it incredibly eye-opening to spend
even a short amount of time playing with them. Another way developers
can see *what it's really like* to use a screen reader (e.g. you have to
find things on a web page without being able to see it) is by using
WebAIM's screen reader
simulator: http://www.webaim.org/simulations/screenreader

Allison Bloodworth
Principal Administrative Analyst
Technology Program Office
University of California, Berkeley
(415) 377-8243
abloodworth at berkeley.edu

________________________________________________________________
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