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RE: [Fwd: University online policy guidelines]

From: Reidy Brown <rbrown@blackboard.com>
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 19:01:12 -0500
Message-ID: <FB48B8939127D411B07700B0D0490332531553@bbmail1.blackboard.net>
To: "'donbery@swbell.net'" <donbery@swbell.net>, "'w3c-wai-ig@w3.org'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

The Utah State University has created accessibility guidelines. Also, the
California community colleges have accessibility requirements that are
determined by state law. Texas and New York's accessibility laws are being
interpreted to cover public universities, and may be of interest to you as
well. (I've included some additional information on this at the bottom of my
email-- I compiled it about half a year ago, but it should still be useful.)

Also, I'm the Accessibility Coordinator at Blackboard, so if you have any
specific questions about the software, feel free to ask. We're aggressively
pursuing the goal of making our software accessible, working on both
short-term code retrofits to increase accessibility and longer term R&D
projects involving customizable accessible interfaces. (We're also putting
together an accessibility/usability advisory group to make sure that we're
properly prioritizing accessibility issues, and that our solutions address
the problems appropriately. If you're interested in participating, please
let me know at rbrown@blackboard.com.)

In January 2001, Blackboard will release Blackboard 5.5.1. Accessibility
enhancements for this version include the following items. 
	All system images will have alt tags, and instructors will be able
to add alt tags to uploaded images in the content creation areas of the
software (with the exception of optional assessment images, which should be
described in the question or answer text).
	Framesets will be appropriately titled and will have meaningful
<noframes> content, describing the functionality of the frames layout .
	Data tables will be optimized for use with screen readers by adding
attributes to associate column headings with table content.
	One of the largest challenges for non-visual users of internet
applications is understanding the layout and context of a web page.
Blackboard provides online Help documentation in both HTML and PDF format,
which describes in detail the layout, context, and functionality of each
Blackboard feature, as well as giving instructions on using these features.

In actuality, much of this capability exists in the current version of
Blackboard. The 5.5.1 release is focusing on filling in any places that
functionality might be missing, and bringing these features up to 100%
implementation. We're committed to building our software out to the W3C Web
Accessibility Initiative Guidelines, and if you're interested, I can send
you more information on accessibility projects that we're working on here at

Reidy Brown

Reidy Brown 
Accessibility Coordinator/
Software Engineer 
Blackboard, Inc. 
1899 L. St., NW, 5th Floor 
Washington, DC 20036 
(202) 463-4860 x236 


	International and US regulations:
	"It is required that all California community college instructional
Web sites created or substantially modified after adoption of these
guidelines [WAI Accessibility Guidelines] be Priority l compliant.  It is
strongly recommended that all California community college instructional Web
sites created or substantially modified after adoption of these guidelines
be Priority 2 compliant." (The Chancellor's Office of the California
Community Colleges document on access guidelines for distance education.
	The State of New York has adopted the W3C Web Content Accessibility
Guidelines  as a means to provide optimal access to State agency web sites
and the content therein. As a matter of policy, each agency is responsible
for applying the most current version of these guidelines in the design,
creation and maintenance of any official New York State agency web site. It
is expected that the guidelines will be applied to all newly developed
content/pages effective immediately. Existing content/pages should be
prioritized and modified over time (but no later than one year from the date
of this technology policy). Web content shall conform with level "A,"
satisfying all priority one checkpoints. The URL for the NYS policy is
http://www.irm.state.ny.us/policy/99-3.htm. This policy applies to the New
York State University system
	Texas requirements, effective July 2000: In summary the proposed
rules (in their present state) would require: Elimination of Priority 1 and
2 Web Content Accessibility errors.
	Utah State University: Like New York's new standards, U.S.U.'s
guidelines are also based on the w3c standards. The policy includes all of
the priority 1 and 2 standards, as well as some of the priority 3
standards... ...Enforcement will not begin for several months (probably not
until late next year) but the drive to make the pages accessible will go
into full effect at the beginning of the year."
	Lt. Governor Wicker of the State of North Carolina announced the
appointment of a special task force to ensure that both employees and
citizens with disabilities have access to electronic and information
technology. (see attached email)
	"...As you know, Portugal is the first European country where web
accessibility is mandatory. This legislation was an initiative of the
Ministry of Science and Technology. I think that people from EU countries
should join efforts and take this conference as a milestone to promote web
accessibility in Europe." (Francisco Godinho, Co-coordinator of the Petition
for the Accessibility of the Portuguese, in attached email)
	The Australian Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission has
announced a directive from the Attorney General to address Internet
accessibility.  See
	"...in late spring, the Access Board's Electronic and Information
Technology Access Advisory Committee presented its report to the Board on
what those [accessibility] standards should be. Basically, they recommended
Double-A of the web content guidelines. They recommended user agents and
authoring tools meet Priorities 1 and 2 of their respective guidelines.
That's why most of us in government who pay attention to such things are
expecting Double-A as our target, even though nothing has been finalized.
(Adam Guasch-Melendez, EEOC, speaking about future ADA requirements, in
attached email)
	"The law on whether online providers are public accommodations isn't
clear. "There's nothing that addresses it squarely in the statute," said
Gary D. Friedman, a New York labor and employment partner at Chicago's Mayer
Brown & Platt."... "However, the 1st Circuit-where the NFB sued-has held
otherwise. In a 1994 case, Car Parts Distribution Center v. Automotive
Wholesalers Association, 37 F.3d 12, the court held that being a public
accommodation doesn't demand a physical structure for people to enter. "What
the plaintiffs in the AOL case are arguing represents a rather expansive
interpretation of the ADA," said Edward S. Mazurek, a labor and employment
partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius L.L.P. in Philadelphia. In addition to
affecting on-line businesses, such a reading of the statute could affect
other service providers, such as telecommunications companies and insurance
companies, which could be forced to alter access to their services to
accommodate people with disabilities." (Ritchenya A. Shepherd, The National
Law Journal, in attached email, and
Received on Monday, 30 October 2000 19:08:12 UTC

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