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Amendments to Section 508. Was: Where to go now?

From: Alan Cantor <acantor@oise.utoronto.ca>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 18:23:13 -0500 (EST)
To: IG - WAI Interest Group List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SO4.4.02.9911171759110.7308-100000@tortoise.oise.utoronto.ca>
Although the draft regulations are supposed to be published in February, I
have heard (through the usual reliable sources!) that the regulations will
be published, in discussion paper form, much earlier -- I believe December
was mentioned.

It is not clear yet how the amendments to Section 508 of the Rehab Act
will affect web sites. The new directive is primarily concerned with
electronic and information technology systems -- although access to
information is prominently mentioned. The directive is designed to be
implemented through the Federal procurement process. The amendment forces
Federal departments and agencies (other than national security) to make
decisions about the purchase of electronic and information products and
services based on a measure of accessibility -- I believe the term used is
"verifiable accessibility." At bottom, this means that products and
service must be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.

The issue of what constitutes an accessible product (or web site) is not
entirely clear. We should all pay close attention to the draft
regulations, and if there are gaps -- as might be expected for the first
go at such a complex subject -- we will need to speak up and plug them
before the standards are finalized. Hopefully, the web access regulations
will be based on the WAI guidelines.

Alan

Alan Cantor
Cantor + Associates
Workplace Accommodation Consultants
New e-mail address: acantor@interlog.com
http://www.interlog.com/~acantor


> Regarding timing of Section 508 regulations, I believe that the US Access
> Board will first issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), which will
> be followed by a public comment period; then the final rule would be issued
> after the appropriate periods for public comment have concluded. 
> 
> Cynthia is right that the W3C does not control the content or timing of the
> US Access Board's Section 508 rules. For comments on W3C documents
> including WAI guidelines, that is through W3C; for comments on the US
> federal agency's guidelines, that should be to the appropriate US federal
> agency.
Received on Wednesday, 17 November 1999 18:23:20 GMT

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