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Re: FW: No JavaScript for previous page and print screen

From: Larry G. Hull <Larry.G.Hull@nasa.gov>
Date: Thu, 22 May 2003 12:05:17 -0400
Message-Id: <p05100306baf29aff7b78@[]>
To: "Nissen, Dan E" <Dan.Nissen@UNISYS.com>
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org


I'd like to provide what I hope is a bit of clarification here. 
Please understand that these comments are my own and do not 
necessarily reflect the views of my agency. I do not speak for my 

Yes, Section 508 has procurement provisions but two of the provisions 
specifically cover software development and Web sites whether done 
under contract or inhouse by Federal employees. Unfortunately, 
education is a long term and continuous process not an instantaneous 
one and, as I've found more than once, instruction does not ensure 

You are correct that Web sites existing prior to the effective date 
are not covered (i.e., not mentioned). As you say, existing 
non-compliant E&IT also did not have to be immediately replaced with 
compliant E&IT. Some agencies have adopted the policy that older Web 
sites shall be updated as resources permit or shall be retired if no 
longer needed.

You are correct that agencies must now acquire accessible products if 
available. Nonavailability does not prevent acquisition but such 
nonavailability must be established and documented.

Undue burden is a topic unto itself. I'm not a lawyer and I'd rather 
not go there at the moment. Let me just say it is my understanding 
that undue burden is not an "easy out". Also, I may be mistaken on 
this point but I believe I've heard that undue burden only applies to 

My understanding is we should avoid equating accessibility and 
Section 508. More specifically, compliance with Section 508 does not 
define accessibility nor is the converse necessarily true.

Finally neither the White House nor Congress is covered by Section 
508. The specific wording is,

"1998 Amendment to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 794d), as amended by 
the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-220), August 7, 1998




INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY.--When developing, procuring, maintaining, or 
using electronic and information technology, each Federal department 
or agency, including the United States Postal Service...."


At 7:53 AM -0500 5/22/03, Nissen, Dan E wrote:
>This dialogue is based on a common misperception of the law that is Section
>508.  First of all, Section 508 is a procurement provision, meaning that it
>operates in the acquisition process.  It does not apply to existing systems,
>and it does not seem to apply to work done by Federal employees.  It
>requires that the agency acquire accessible products if available and if not
>an undue burden, and there are a number of other exceptions.  It is really
>quite a weak law, luckily, in my view, because the requirements to be
>accessible are so vague.  While I am very supportive of the goals of the
>advocates of Section 508, and accessibility in general, I am very skeptical
>that I or any one on this board could build accessible applications, if we
>use the definitions flying regularly on this board.  Of course, most sites
>can do much better at quite low cost. 
>So, I doubt that federal law was violated by the White House, but I am not a
>lawyer, and this law has not be adjudicated.  If it is, I wonder if it will
>be struck down as unreasonably vague.
>I really think the next point to apply pressure is to the developers of the
>development tools, to have them build accessible web pages, to build in
>validators, etc.
>-----Original Message-----
>From: William R Williams [mailto:wrwilliams@fs.fed.us]
>Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2003 5:45 PM
>To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
>Subject: Re: No JavaScript for previous page and print screen
>Well, if your concern is that the feds cannot get their act together on
>this, you might as well contact the WhiteHouse as well:
>Data tables coded incorrectly --  1194.22 provision (g), (h)
>No alternative for video --  1194.22 provision (a), (b)
>.. . . and these observations were based on a very quick review. Of course,
>these violations of Section 508 are breaking the law. Plus, with 508, we're
>not even talking about true accessibility.
>My own agency has plenty of violations, as I've stated before, which means
>we don't have our act together either. Much of the time, we cannot even
>post a 1-page news release without someone thinking a pdf will suffice. And
>now, as I prepare to assist with presenting a 400-page technical report on
>the web (with plenty of tables & charts), planners want to post only pdf,
>rtf documents because "going the extra mile" for a mark-up presentation is
>not cost-effective. There's hardly any "wherewithall" on the fed's part
>regarding accessible E&IT. Is rtf even a viable option for the web?
>Bill Williams
>I don't know who the heck made that rule"My organization only obligates us
>to meet priority 1 of 508" but I will tell you this, I will be looking very
>close at this site. The US Government did 508, adopted 508 set deadlines
>that very few have taken seriously and the last time I checked, it must
>follow its own rules. It is a shame that the government of these United
>States can't even get their act together.
>Who is in charge of the web at CDC. I am going to talk to them.
Received on Thursday, 22 May 2003 12:05:35 UTC

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