Welcome to the ADA Distance Learning Series hosted by the regional Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center. Many sites are joining us for the first time today. For those of you that are new to the ADA Distance Learning Series, welcome. This program is offered monthly as an educational opportunity to update on Americans with Disabilities Act and surrounding issues. This particular program, "Information Technology in Education," is offered free of charge by your regional DBTAC. Joining us today is Debbie Cook, the technical assistance coordinator for AccessIT. Hi Debbie.
Thanks for joining us. Through a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, NIDRR for short, established a national center for accessible information technology in education or AccessIT. It is based at the University of Washington. Debbie is going to talk a little bit about the new center and the issues of accessible information technology in education. Currently Debbie Cook is the Director of the Washington Assistive Technology Alliance and is Assistant to the director for Workforce Accessibility with the Washington Department of Services for the Blind. As mentioned she is also the technical assistance coordinator for AccessIT, which is the National Center on Accessible Information Technology in Education. Debbie is nationally recognized for her expertise in wide range of information technology, accessibility policy and service delivery issues including accessible design of hardware, software and web based technologies, telecommunications, product design and accessible service delivery including laws, regulations and best practices regarding access to IT and accommodations of people with disabilities in education and employment. She currently serves on the advisory board for the IT Technical Assistance and Training Center at Georgia Tech University and provides technical assistance regarding development and dissemination of training and materials to industry, government and consumers on implementation of accessibility regulations. This session is currently real-time captioned on the Great Lakes Web site at www.adagreatlakes.org For your convenience, we have also linked to the AccessIT web site so that you can read more about the new center. With that said, I will turn it over to Debbie for her presentation, then we will go ahead and open it for for questions from the audience.
Thanks, Jennifer. This is a great opportunity. I am very glad to be with you today. I''m trying to juggle my notes and my watch and the phone and everything to try to do this all together. So hopefully we will be a little bit coordinated. As Jennifer said, AccessIT is a new project funded through the Department of Education and is basically designed to assist educational entities in getting up and running with more accessible information technology. We do that through supporting the Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers in their new initiative regarding access to education based information technology. We will be assisting the DBTAC''s in a variety of ways over the next few years, including the development of significant information materials, development of web based and other resources, providing training to the DBTACs and assisting them with technical assistance requests that they will receive from education institutions as they become more involved in that arena. So we are very excited about that involvement. And this call today that we are participating in is part of that process. I thought that I would tell you a little bit about web based technologies in higher education in particular as kind of an introduction to the whole topic of information technology accessibility. We probably get more calls regarding web based information than any other type of call and we anticipate that that is probably a significant interest to you. So I thought I would talk about that in particular respect to community colleges. I would like to start by talking about some of the laws and how they do or don''t relate to the accessibility of web based information. First of all, what does the ADA say about web accessibility? The ADA was passed in 1990, as we all know, before on-line access became a significant issue for people with disabilities. So as a result, it does not specifically address access to on-line resources or other information technology because they didn''t exist yet. There are no ADA rules for web accessibility and there is no such thing as an ADA compliant web page or ADA compliance for web sites, Internets or other web based resources. I don''t know how often I get calls and probably some of you do as well about how do I make my web site ADA compliant? ADA itself does not actually have a compliance standard for that. However, the Department of Justice does indicate that the ADA applies to cyberspace, and according to the U.S. Department of Justice, the ADA applies to electronic resources. Covered entities under the ADA are required to provide effective communication regardless of whether they generally communicate through print media, audio media or computerized media such as the Internet. Covered entities that use the Internet for communications regarding their programs, goods or services must be prepared to offer those communications through accessible means as well. This is from an opinion letter from the Department of Justice dated September 9th, 1996. So the ADA does not specifically mandate that web sites be made accessible. It mandated that entities needed to provide materials using strategies for effective communication. Entities could interpret that perhaps that using a human reader to provide access to a web site for a person who was blind could be a reasonable accommodation, but would that really be effective communication? In response to a complaint by a university student, the Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education clarified what effective communication means in an educational institution. They say that the issue is not whether the student with the disability is merely provided access, but the issue is rather the extent to which communication is actually as effective as that provided to others. Essentially they have also clarified that effective communication that entails three basic components which are 1) the timeliness of delivery, 2) the accuracy of the translation and 3) provision in a manner and medium appropriate to the significance of the message and the capabilities of the individuals disability. Essentially it needs to be effective and timely and meet the individualized needs of the person. Clearly in the example that we talked about it would probably not be very appropriate for someone to have a live reader to read a web page to a blind person when the web page is available 24 hours a day seven days a week on demand and the live person probably isn''t. Most people I know aren''t available like that. So that could be a significant problem. The Office of Civil Rights also talks about the issue of ad hoc versus policy. They pointed out that a public entity violates its obligations under the ADA when it only responds on an ad hoc basis to individual requests for accommodations. There is an affirmative duty to develop a comprehensive policy in advance of any request for auxiliary aids or services. Moreover the community person with disabilities is required to be consulted in the development of this policy. So what this would mean to us in this case is that we can''t wait until somebody asks us to make our web pages accessible. We need to be proactive and have them ready when people will be coming rather than waiting around for someone to ask about that. The Office of Civil Rights also talked about procurements and says that when an entity selects software programs or hardware equipment not adaptable for people with disabilities, the subsequent substantial expense of providing access is not generally regarded as an undue burden when such costs could have been significantly reduced by considering the issue of accessibility at the time of the initial selection. That is a pretty significant issue. That means that basically we can''t just create things or purchase things or develop things, in this chase a web site, that is not accessible and then just say so well, we really didn''t give that much thought and we can''t do that now because it is going to be too expensive to take it apart and do it over again. The Office of Civil Rights has said that is not a good excuse, that is not really a good reason and doesn''t really meet the undue burden standard. That is a pretty significant issue. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act similarly to the ADA was actually passed prior to the innovation of on-line resources, and so also does not specifically address on-line accessibility. But in the same way as the ADA it also addresses issues of reasonable accommodation and an assumption that people will design and procure technologies that are accessible to individuals with disabilities including web based technologies. There is actually legislation which does set standards for accessibility and that is Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act which was amended in 1998. It is the only legislation dealing with specific requirements for the design and procurement of information technology and web based resources. Section 508 requires federal agencies and covered state entities to make their electronic and information technology accessible to employees and the public with disabilities. But it is not really entirely clear whether community colleges and other education institutions are going to be covered by Section 508 because it is not clear in many states whether they are considered state entities. We don''t know for sure whether the standards apply, but we do know that the standards could be useful for organizations and entities in establishing a relevant standard for themselves and clearly do exist which would reduce the excuse of not having designed materials that are accessible to begin with. When we do look at the issue of standard development for web based applications, we do have some problems because as I said Section 508 does exist, but is not necessarily applicable entirely to educational institutions, although it does contain very specific guidelines for accessibility. Many organizations use the Web Accessibility Initiative Guidelines which are developed by the Worldwide Web Consortium. These guidelines are often accepted as standards by institutions and are very, very comprehensive set of guidelines which apply to web page development, browser development and the tools that we use to develop web pages. Those are probably the most commonly used guidelines for the process of establishing standards. But both the Section 508 standards and the WAI guidelines are not necessarily adequate for all of the issues that are addressed in educational situations such as community college. So another body of guidelines that many individuals use in establishing their standards are the National Center on Accessible Media Guidelines. Those guidelines deal with a whole range of media products and are very helpful in that area since it is such a significant area for educational institutions. As I said, there are currently no standards that are specific to education technology and web based resources and basically we are on our own to kind of cut and paste the standards and guidelines that are there to create what we would use in each individual institution. But it is fairly clear that there is a very strong mandate that is enforceable with respect to making web sites and other resources on campuses accessible to individuals with disabilities. So going back, since I mentioned that the Worldwide Web Consortium guidelines are the most commonly used standard setting tools in most of the colleges, I thought I would just talk a very briefly about them. They are a collaboration between industry, consumers and public entities, and they basically have three priorities. The priority one guidelines are guidelines which must be followed in order for some individuals to access the web page. If they are not followed there are some significant groups of people who will not be able to use your page at all. The priority 2 guidelines mean that some individuals, if they are not followed, some individuals will have difficulty accessing the page. Doesn''t mean it will be impossible but it could be pretty challenging. If we are talking about effective communication we might not be achieving that, if it is difficult for some individuals or groups of individuals to access the page. The priority 3 guidelines are not adopted by most organizations that I know of, but following these guidelines makes it easier for people using older technologies to access the page. Sometimes people don''t have the latest browsers or the latest assistive technology devices and in those cases they will need to go to pages that are really very, very accessible. We encourage people to try to keep their technologies up to date because it is difficult enough to make the sites accessible. Sometimes let alone have people visiting with older technologies. Developers often get very frustrated when I tell them about the priority 3 guidelines and the number of people who don''t necessarily have access to current technology, but in reality sometimes technology costs money. Although the browsers are free, the assistive technologies to support them are generally not. So that is a real barrier for people. There are a number of steps that an institution may want to think about in designing their web sites. We are not going to spend any time here talking about Web site coding or anything like that because I don''t have all kinds of nice graphs and you don''t care about it. But I do think it is useful to talk about some basic steps that people need to take. The first one is policy development. If your organization does not make a statement which is clear that says you have the intent of creating accessible web based technologies, it probably won''t happen. It does require a commitment. It just doesn''t happen on its own. So community colleges and other institutions of higher education must adopt standards and establish policies to ensure accessible design of content and assure that it applies to all their web sites, their intranets and to their distance learning resources. We are not just talking about the public web sites.
Debbie, I''m sorry to interrupt. Could you talk a little bit more about that? Because I think that is a really important point. We have a number of community colleges, higher education institutions, but even more so, K through 12 that are using the web as not necessarily distance learning tools, but in classroom tools. And how it is not necessarily getting to the point that you would have a student with a disability that makes the request that it be accessible, but how you need to include that in the planning process from the get-go.
Right. The fact that people basically have-there are certainly public web sites and as Jennifer said there are all kinds of other issues. If we are talking about accommodating faculty for example, we are talking about an intranet, which would be an internal between based system. And then certainly issues of distance learning and classroom materials and all of that kind of thing. Most of the time now when you are in college or even in a lot of K-12 settings it is really possible for all of the assignments to be on the web, it may be possible that you are having to create web pages to turn in your home work. You may be doing most of your research on-line. When research can be done on line through accessible sites, it can make that whole process very, very accessible for individuals with disabilities. But you do have to establish some kind of priority standard and as I said right now for most web content, most schools or other entities are choosing to adopt the priority 1 and possibly priority 2 guidelines from the WAI. And then also looking at some of the other standards like the National Center on Accessible Media and the Section 508 standards to see if there are other elements that they need to include to accommodate the environment that they are creating. So the very first step is making the commitment and developing the policy. The next step I think is to provide training to those people who are involved in maintaining and developing the web based content and materials so that they can in fact follow the standards that they have adopted. Then the third piece of that that is very critical is a whole planning process. And as Jennifer said, planning has to begin at the beginning and work its way all the way through. I start my planning process with an assessment of where we currently are, evaluating the accessibility of the current resources and then making a plan with specific target dates and objectives for how we will increase accessibility to those resources and making that as a significant commitment. This makes the process doable and makes the process accountable. It is a very good faith effort and is well respected by people. It is good to document that planning and the achievements that you''ve made, because as people ask you what you are doing and as people ask how it is coming and whether you''ve done anything at all, it is good to be able to report that out and also to chart your own progress, it is very, very helpful. Then after we''ve done all of that planning and implementation we need to find out if it is worked. So there is an evaluation process that we need to consider as we work through the process of making our sites much more accessible. We can do that evaluation in a number of ways. First of all, we want to figure out did we follow the policies and standards that we adopted and said we would do? Did we do what we said we would do? Can we use some validation tools? Some of you are probably familiar with Bobby, which is a tool developed by Cast and is a web validation tool. Running pages through Bobby does not necessarily mean the pages are accessible. Bobby provides you a lot of information, some of which is or isn''t useful, but it is a place to start. There are also some other web validation tools and those references will be available on our web site at AccessIT if they are not there already. Our site is in progress, they will be will shortly. There are a number of tools. Also many of the web development tools such as Dreamweaver provide validation tools or tools that will help you test the accessibility of your web pages inside those tools. You also want to get some feedback from users or potential users of your page. I think that is a very constructive thing to do to find out whether people can actually use the page. They may not be able to tell you what is wrong with the page, but they will be able to tell you whether they have been able to actually make use of it. That is the goal I think. We talked about using our access policies, our validation tools and our feedback from individuals in order to make sure that we are creating pages that can be used accessibly. There are some other tricks that you can do on your own that will be very easy and they won''t absolutely tell you whether your page is accessible but they will sure give you some clues. One of the first easy things you can do is view your page in a text only format so you can turn the graphics off in your browser and find out if all of your links still make sense and find out if the names of your frames make sense and if your other content makes sense, if it is read without any graphics. That will give you a pretty quick and dirty way of knowing whether you have created text that is at least accessible, whether all of your graphics are properly labeled. You can also try testing your pages, particularly if they are multimedia pages, with the sounds turned off, because you want to find out if the content of your page makes sense for individuals who can''t hear sound. As we already said, you want to find out if the content of your page makes sense for people who can''t see the graphics. You want to find out if your page could be used from the keyboard. So are you able to use the tab key, for example, to locate each of the links on your page? Does your page require using a mouse to access particular buttons or links or can you tab to all of the buttons and links on your page? That is a keyboard way of getting at all of the elements on your page that would be used by individuals who use screen readers or some other kinds of technologies. If you have elements on your page that can''t be accessed via the keyboard, then those will not be available to people. You also want to check you on your site reacts if you turn off the frames or scripts or style sheets or applets or other things that you have done to make your site have unusual appearances or other kinds of things. If those things change the content of your sight site or make it unavailable, then that probably is a good indicator that your site may not be very accessible to people with disabilities. Basically, in summary entirely, there is web based technologies are challenging, but they have very, very instantaneous results in terms of once they have been made accessible, individuals with disabilities are able to use them and able to get access to your content and able to do everything from registering for your courses if those are available on line to participating in the courses to learning about your community events, all of the range of content that you have. Generally, web accessibility isn''t costly. We are going to be updating our web sites on a regular basis anyway, sometimes daily and if we do that with accessibility in mind as we make those updates we can create a wonderful resource for everyone, including resource for an individual with disabilities. If we don''t make that commitment that resource will not be available, will not be accessible and individuals will miss a vast opportunity to participate in the environment. I''m ready for questions, Jennifer, I think, if people have some. I can answer basic questions about the AccessIT Center and what it is doing for DBTACs, although some of that is definitely in the very early stages. We''ve been here for two months, and I certainly will be glad to talk with people about other web accessibility issues there. There may be another person from our project on the call, Terry Thompson who is our information technology specialist may also be here, and if he is and he wants to participate or make a comment that will be great as well.
Very good. I''m going to ask Karen if she could give instruction on how people can queue in. Then I have a list of questions here too. We will ask each site, especially the site coordinators, to collect questions and prioritize them in relevance to the topic. We will ask if you are calling from a speaker phone that you either speak into the handset or as close to the microphone as possible in the event is inaudible, we might need to drop the line. Questions can also be submitted at this time on-line in the chat room. For those of you that are just joining us for the first time, too, you may be especially interested in a session transcript that we conducted back in the spring with Mike Paciello from WebAble. Mike did a great job of talking more in detail of making web pages accessible. One of the things that I was hoping you could also touch on, Debbie, is really the multimedia. Because we present educational components in different media, much of it you can adapt from a web page onto a CD-ROM. So part of my question would be, how could AccessIT-how could your center help me? Say, I''m calling from a university that might want to do some video streaming or audio streaming of maybe a noted speaker coming and giving a lecture on campus. Could I call you? Could you work through or get me to the resources that I might need in order to make sure that that streaming video or audio is accessible?
Yes. We are developing a frequently asked questions section of our web site. Actually that is one of the frequently asked questions that we will be formally answering up there. We will be providing lists of resources that people can go to and also talking a little bit about some of the challenges involved in some of that process, particularly in the K-12 area. The issue of multimedia content is very, very challenging. For example, if you have a child who is deaf or has a significant hearing loss and is not literate yet because maybe they are in the younger grades, doing a lot of streamed captioning may not be very helpful for that and may not provide effective communication for that particular situation. So we have to look at a broad range of issues, but certainly there are some examples of education institutions which are doing captioned and audio described videos and doing some streaming captioning and streaming audio, streaming text, and there are some resources out there for doing that and making that work. It needs to happen a lot more than it does, but we are currently working with the entities to develop that. We had a request a few weeks ago from-actually they weren''t in a higher education institution per se but they were developing information for high school students and they were doing a multimedia video and the difficulty about their video was that it was not captioned, it was not audio described. The text of the description even if you wrote that text out and placed it on a web site or made it accessible in that way wouldn''t tell you very much about what happened in the video so it was not an accessible video for people who were blind or deaf. And it was not a very accessible for many individuals with the learning disabilities because the information was moving so fast across the screen and was moving across it with so much kind of glitter and glitz that it was very hard for people to read. So we found that that particular production had a lot of accessibility barriers.
This is Larry. I''m the assistive technology coordinator here and regarding our own web site one of the things I''ve discovered is that AT because there are many, many vendors as well as services, we build powerful sites based on linkages to vendors and services. So when we are trying to include these linkages from our site to other sites and the links are key to best provision of accessibility on our own site, do we apply the same standards of our own web site, meaning do we use these web site evaluation tools through our site to these other linkages, not just on our own main web site, such as Bobby and other that you mentioned. Linkages are the key to reach the vendors for our consumers and myself.
Most of the web site is a reference to everybody else. That is a really super question and that is one of the things you would have to decide in your policy development. For example I cannot control the contents of everyone I link to, but I probably would want to check out the accessibility, maybe not using Bobby per se. That might be more work than I would need. But I would sure want to visit the contents of the pages that I link to to find out whether they are going to be usable. And then if they are not going to be I would certainly want to contact them and say I want to link to you but I''m concerned because these are the things that I found." And you can be informal about that. You don''t need to know HTML about it. These are things that would be troublesome and we want it linked to your content because it is so great and are you going to be fixing that and can I check back with you about that? If you want to keep the content and it really isn''t accessible and your policy does not stipulate that that is something that you can do, in fact it may be that what you are actually doing is something that the content may be hard to make accessible if you are not looking at text or something, then you may want to post some information on your page regarding the fact that some of sites that you are linking to may not be accessible and that is embarrassing, too. That is one of the things that sometimes is helpful. We do have a policy that to the extent that we can determine their accessibility we only want to link to accessible site. However a site that was accessible today could develop a problem tomorrow and we don''t have someone dedicated to spending a lot of time looking at everybody is web sites that you link to. So I think you need to go with a good faith effort and if someone brings to your attention that someone that you link to is not accessible have them ccontact the entity and you contact that entity.
We on our main site do have that question to the visitor, is your computer capable of, basically getting graphics, visualizing browsers or not. So if people can click here on that or if they cannot, there is a second click through.
I would probably not click-I''m a person who is blind and I myself can''t access graphics, but my computer and my browser and my technology all basically can so I probably would not click on that separate site because one of the concerns that I have about that is that often people don''t keep up that separate page as well. So I would probably tough it out on your standard graphics page and I would probably be sending you feedback about the accessibility of that page rather than going to your separate page. The only way I might go to your separate page is if I''m trying to do it on a very slow dialup in which case I really don''t want to graphics to load. But otherwise, for most people, if you are primarily dealing with text there should be no reason to create a separate text only link. If you are dealing with some other information like tables or moving parts or different things like that then you may need to in fact create some separate content to accommodate all of the range of technologies. But if you are really talking about text I would recommend just making all of your graphics accessible to people using alternative text and not using that separate page.
Very good. Thank you for your question. Debbie, I have an on-line question here that comes from Annette at Pacer Center. Her question is, how do you envision accessible information technology for primary educational institutions, specifically K through 5?
Well, you know that is uncharted territory. I did a presentation earlier today somewhat on that topic and there are a number of very specific issues that are involved there. One of them is that there is no standardization as we already said around what does accessibility mean for education based technology that would be different from just standard technologies that we use in employment and government kinds of things. Certainly the heavy level of multimedia which is compensating for the fact that whether kids do or don''t have disabilities, they are not big readers yet. That is just part of the issue for them. That is one major area. The other area that we are really struggling with is that developers of all of the K-12 related instructional technologies have not given very much thought yet to how they will make those technologies accessible. And I think the thing that is going to have to happen is a similar process to that that we''ve been through, which culminated in Section 508. For those of you who are familiar with that process and as I describe it most of you probably will be, it started at the grass roots level with individuals and some employers saying, hey, we need to be able to get access to some of the technologies that we currently can''t use and we need those for our employment or we need those for higher Ed or whatever the situation is. And we don''t have access to those. Some people with disabilities were losing their jobs, for example, because operating systems and applications were becoming graphic and some government entities were unable to purchase technologies that their employees could use and therefore they couldn''t reasonably accommodate the employee if there wasn''t anything to accommodate them with. This sent up a lot of commotion and actually a few states went as far as to temporarily refuse to purchase some technologies until they became accessible. The Department of Education also did that in one situation. Industry is driven by what those who procure technology want to buy. As long as no one was saying to industry, things need to be accessible, and as long as no one talked about what accessibility was, industry didn''t feel a lot of obligation to do that. When industry began to learn that this really matters to people, it matters to people who buy and use the technologies, industry became very interested in that. There still was no standard by which to do those development activities and so the Section 508 standard came out of that. We could spend a lot of time going over whether that is the best standard or whatever. But it is a standard and it is a definite place to start and there is a lot of work being designed to that. But that activity, that process has not happened yet in the K-12 area. And really hasn''t happened in those primary grade areas yet. So one of the things that we will be trying to do with AccessIT is develop some relationships with those entities, but also what the DBTACs will be doing is developing relationships with educational entities so that we can get people to think bigger than reasonable accommodation because right now we think about reasonably accommodating somebody, but we don''t think about how to design an environment that would allow the person to have effective communication and be reasonably accommodated in a way that really works.
This is Region 1. I''m wondering if there might be a university or a college or a community college web site that is accessible and can be tauted as best practices or if there might be one of the works that you might know of.
There are lots of accessible web sites. I don''t think that we are going to try to link to every web site that is accessible. That would be arduous, and as I said accessibility changes on a regular basis. But certainly lots of web sites are exemplary in terms of their accessibility, and many universities of made some effort. If you want to see examples of policy which is driving accessibility, and that would be your first clue that the web sites might be accessible, you might want to visit-and we will have these on our site shortly, but right now one of the best sites for that I think is the www.webaim.org On their site, they have a number of examples and links to policies that higher education institutions have done. Probably have in my observation so far the most comprehensive list of those although it is changing all the time. I would suggest visiting the sites of those as their implementing their policies. Again, accessibility doesn''t happen kind of by accident. It has to be planned for. So we say here is a page that is accessible. But then we might not find it to be so later. I think it is best to kind of follow the process with organizations that actually have established a policy for that and there are gradually becoming more and more.
This is Judy at the VCIL. My question is could you address a bit more how to use style sheets? Because we are on the edge of thinking of hiring a consultant to move us onto style sheets and I certainly don''t want to make a mistake at the get-go on how we set those up. Thanks.
I actually don''t want to spend a lot of time here talking about the technicalities of style sheets because that is probably not something everybody would want to do. But where I would refer you for all of the instruction on creating style sheets that are accessible would be to the Worldwide Web Consortium Web Accessibility Initiative http://www.W3C.org/WAI/ They have the priority guidelines that are developed by themselves regarding style sheets. Basically what I would say as the overarching issue about use of style sheets is that you want to make sure that anything that you do in the style sheets does not force things to be presented in a particular way. So you don''t want to force particular colors or force particular sizes, that kind of thing. I''ve had some sort of mixed experience with using style sheets and they definitely can make a real difference, but they are not equally supported by all browsers. Most accessibility components are integrated with Internet Explorer. But you do have users who will be coming to your site using other browsers such as Netscape, Opera and other browsers and style sheets may operate in different ways with those. You probably will want to work with your consultants regarding whether style sheets are the way to present the information or whether other ways are and if they are good at using HTML and understanding the concepts they will not have much difficulty working through the process with the guidelines. One of the things that we do find just as a caveat to that is, I find a lot of people putting up web pages who don''t know anything about the web page coding which is called HTML. The first question I also ask, it is apparently a trick question is how many of you actually know how to write a little HTML and only about half the hands go up. So those people are going to have a tougher time creating accessible web pages because when they are authoring tools don''t do what they expected, when they misbehave in making the conversions they will have difficulty if they can''t look at the code and work that out. It is the same as using a word processor. If I''m going to hire you to prepare my term paper for me or my big report or my grant application, I''m going to want to find someone who knows how to actually use the coding in the word processor rather than someone who puts spaces and returns to make the lines centered.
That makes sense. Thanks.
You might also want to take a look at that spring transcript with Mike Paciello and from that transcript we also have a number of links to like the HTML Writer''s Guild and so forth that are-we have that particular question all the time, too. But that brings up another good point, Debbie, is that since we''ve watched the Internet develop and since we''vewatched the development of different types of CD-ROM or multimedia technology develop, we had this mind set of we should be writing things to the lowest common denominator. So with the introduction of Internet Explorer 5 or Netscape 6 or whatever, we still had that mind set of well, we should be writing things to somebody that is using Netscape 4 or whatever. Is that still something that we should practice or is it more on the way of consumers being alert and getting on board with the latest technology that is out there?
Certainly the browsers are generally free. One of the things that might most a difficulty for some consumers is if they don''t have the skills or don''t perceive themselves to have the skills to perform the upgrade. Usually the upgrades are no trouble but sometimes we are kind of phobic and don''t think they are going to be easy to do. Some people may not be using up to date browsers for those reasons or they may have a slow connection or an older computer and people with disabilities are low economic strata. We have a 75 percent unemployment rate of people with disabilities. I think it is a pretty reasonable assumption that people are disabilities might not necessarily always have access to the latest and greatest technology and the latest and greatest browsers and everything else. On the other hand, we do need to take advantage of the tools that are there. What I actually personally advise people to do is to use current technologies in an accessible way and assume that most people who are using your technology will probably have access to adequate browsers and adequate PCs and adequate assistive technology, but know that some people will not. So if you have some very significant content and you can do something that makes it work well for people who may not have the latest and greatest stuff, then that is okay. There are some kinds of content, particularly multimedia, that just aren''t supported by some older technologies. And if you are going to use that content and need to use that content for your presentation then you just need to be aware that there are people that will not be able to access it. Again, if you decide in your policies that we are going to support everything from Browser 1 all the way to the present, you could decide that in policy. But I know that most web developers will be really resistant to that idea. So I just ask them to keep in mind that people with and without disabilities come to their sites with a variety of tools and a variety of resources and a variety of experience. The more complex you make it and the more it requires to use your site, the fewer people, regardless of whether they do or don''t have a disability, will be able to access that site, and so that is a consideration. But at the same time, there are many things that can be made accessible using newer technologies that aren''t necessarily accessible using older technologies such as frames and some table and other things. We want people to use those formats. I encourage users to get your technologies upgraded if you can and developers, remember that some people won''t be able to do that.
Very good. We have time for maybe one or two more questions.
This might be helpful to everyone. I missed your web site and you mentioned an accessible media organization that had some standards.
It is not off of our web site it will be shortly. Our website-and we are going to be providing-Jennifer and I have been gone so we are a little bit behind on the process of getting the information out but we will be providing materials to Jennifer and she will be linking to those materials or putting those materials directly on her web site, which will be all of the reference material that I mentioned today, both the information with the legal references, Department of Justice, OCR and those kinds of things and the resources. But our site, which is available at the Great Lakes site as well as the link, our site is www.washington.edu/accessit Our site is new. We''ve already got a lot of material on it but it has only been going a couple of weeks so you will want to visit it often to get more information from us.
It is definitely very exciting to watch as it develops and as you guys really kick off and jump into your new role. The Great Lakes Web site is www.adagreatlakes.org. There is a portal there that you can link into the ADA Distance Learning 2002 schedule. You can go into our previous session transcripts to get the transcript on web access that we did in the spring with Mike Paciello. We also did a session about a year ago on Section 508. So you can link to both of those. And certainly when this transcript is posted next week it will include all of the links that we have also been talking about. So we have time I think Debbie for one more quick question.
I want to mention one additional thing that would relate to the previous question, and that is that we are developing as I said a major section of frequently asked questions and those are going to be based on the things that the DBTAC''s ask us. So those of you who are from DBTACs if you get questions or as you have questions and you need more specific information than we''ve been able to provide here today, feel free to go to our Web site and send mail to us and ask those questions. We will answer them in a variety of ways, but we will commit to answering those.
How do you do. Our question is really coming from a guest we have with us, a representative of the local community college. She would like to know how do we make accessible LCD displays on copy machines, fax machines and telephones.
That is a major hassle. That is one of the issues that we are still looking at with manufacturers in terms of how to make that accessible. Sometimes one of the first things to do in that situation is to go to the product manufacturer and ask the product manufacturer if they have developed any accessibility solutions specific to their product. Even if they haven''t and even if we kind of suspect that they haven''t that is a great place to start. Because as I said before they need to know that we need access to that information. Most of the time those displays have to currently be made accessible as an accommodation specific to the individual to accommodate the particular level of vision that the individual has and may have to be done with hand-held devices or other magnification. What ultimately needs to happen is that those devices need to be accessible through voice output or through other kinds of technologies. Some companies are in fact working on access to that type of information because telephone services and products are to some extent covered under Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act. So the technology that you currently have may or may not be able to be made accessible, but technologies that you may be getting in the future might be, and as you purchase those technologies, you should ask the developer about that.
Thanks for your question. With that, as we come up on the top of the hour, Debbie, I will turn it back to you, if you have a brief closing comment for us.
Well, I just have enjoyed being with you today. And you have actually provided all kinds of great stuff for our frequently asked questions. So keep those cards and letters and e-mails coming. I look forward to working with many of you in the future regarding these issues. As you can see, the solutions are not always easy and not always totally straight forward, but we do welcome your input and your questions and we want to develop as much material and resource for you over time as we can.
Very good. Thanks so much for taking time out of your day to join us. Thanks for all of you out at our sites today as well. For those of you that have joined us for the first time today, we hope that you will consider participating in future sessions. On January 15th, Pat Owens will join us as we talk about Retooling for Title I Compliance. We know that Title I through case law over the last 10 years has developed dramatically and so Pat is going to highlight some of the issues that if we only attended training, oh, way back in 1992 or 1993 might be a good opportunity to get your HR people involved in that. So we hope to have you back for that session. You can also see the complete schedule of the ADA Distance Learning Program for 2002 on the Great Lakes Web sites at www.adagreatlakes.org. In the event that you have questions about the ADA or upcoming sessions please call your regional Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center at (800) 949-4232. Thank you so much for joining us today. We hope to have you back next month.