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ADA/Internet/US Telecom Act

From: Waddell, Cynthia <cynthia.waddell@ci.sj.ca.us>
Date: Thu, 19 Mar 1998 16:44:35 -0800
To: "'W3C interest group'" <w3c-wai-ig@W3.org>
Cc: "'Brewer, Judy'" <Jbrewer@W3.org>
Message-id: <3EC0FC2EAE6AD1118D5100AA00DCD8831AEF0E@SJ_EXCHANGE>
It may interest the list that businesses subject to the United States
Telecommunications Act of 1996 (47 U.S.C. 255) are required to have
accessible internet postings.  The scoping requirements state that this rule
is applicable to "new and existing products which undergo substantial change
or upgrade, or for which new releases are distributed." Section 1193.2

What follows below is an excerpt from 36 Code of Federal Regulations Part
1193 Subpart C- Requirements for Accessibility and Usability, published
February 3, 1998:

Section 1193.33 Information, documentation, and training

Paragraph (a)
	This section requires that manufacturers provide access to
information and documentation.  The information and documentation includes
user guides, installation guides, and product support communications,
regarding both the product in general and the accessibility features of the
product.  Information and documentation should be provided to people with
disabilities at no additional charge.  Alternate formats or alternate modes
of this information is also required to be available.  Manufacturers should
also encourage distributors of their products to establish information
dissemination and technical support programs similar to those established by
the manufacturer.
	Internet Postings
15.  The fastest growing way to obtain information about a product is
through use of the Internet, and specifically the World Wide Web.  However,
many Internet users with disabilities have difficulty obtaining this
information if it is not correctly formatted.  This section provides
information on how to make a World Wide Web site more accessible to persons
with disabilities.[Footnote 2] Because of its structure, the Web provides
tremendous power and flexibility in presenting information in multiple
formats (text, audio, video, and graphic).  However, the features that
provide power and elegance for some users present potential barriers for
people with sensory disabilities.  The indiscriminate use of graphic images
and video restrict access for people who are blind or have low vision.  Use
of audio and non-captioned video restrict access for people who are deaf or
hard of hearing.

Footnote 2.  This information is based on the document "Writing HTML
Documents and Implementing Accessibility for the World Wide Web" by Paul
Fountaine, Center for information Technology Accommodation, General Services
Administration.  For further information see http://www.gsa.gov/coca.

16.  The level of accessibility of the information on the Web is dependent
on the format of the information, the transmission media, and the display
system.  Many of the issues related to the transmission media and the
display system cannot be affected by the general user.  On the other hand,
anyone creating information for a Web server has control of the
accessibility of the information.  Careful design and coding of information
will provide access to all people without compromising the power and
elegance of the Web site.

17.  A few suggestions are:
	a.  Every graphic image should have associated text.
	This will enable a person using a character-based program, such as
Lynx, to understand the material being presented in the graphical format.
It also allows anyone who does not want to wait for graphics to load to have
quick access to the information on the site.
	b.  Provide text transcriptions or descriptions for all audio
	This will enable people who are deaf or hard of hearing to have
access to this information, as well as individuals who do not have sound
	c.  Make any link text descriptive, but not verbose.
	For example, words like "this", "here", and "click" do not convey
enough information about the nature of the link, especially to people who
are blind.  Link text should consist of substantive, descriptive words which
can be quickly reviewed by the user.  Conversely, link text which is too
long bogs down efficient browsing.
	d.  Provide alternate mechanisms for on-line forms,
	Forms are not supported by all browsers.  Therefore, it is important
to provide the user with an opportunity to select alternate methods to
access such forms.
	e.  All Web pages should be tested using multiple viewers.
	At a minimum, pages should be tested with the latest version of Lynx
to ensure that they can be used with screen reader software.

Cynthia D. Waddell
ADA Coordinator
City of San Jose
801 North First Street, Room 460
San Jose, California  95110-1704
(408)971-0134 TTY
(408)277-3885 FAX
Received on Thursday, 19 March 1998 19:46:58 UTC

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