Section 508 ADA Compliance for Websites

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  • 8/8/2019 Section 508 ADA Compliance for Websites

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    Executive Summary

    ! One out of every five Americans have some form of a recognizeddisability.

    ! Hospital facilities have accommodations for disabled individualshowever their digital presence, even among the top brands, often

    fails to facilitate visits from this population.

    ! Increasingly physicians are becoming sensitive to the interactiveneeds of their disabled patients and are challenging healthcare

    marketers and IT teams for enablement.

    ! Moreover initiatives receiving Federal funding MUST be fully ADAcompliant.

    ! Net/Net marketers must provide a digital environment that is barrierfree and enhances the customer experience for all visitors.

    ! Acsys has best practices and experience to accelerate your ADAinitiatives.

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    What If

    You Could Increase Your Website Audience, Repeat Visits

    and Conversions By Up To 20%?

    You Can Reach an Audience That Has Twice The

    Discretionary Spending Power?

    You probably run into the Americans With Disability Act every day. Yourhospital has ramps for wheelchairs; the elevator has Braille buttons forselecting the floor; your interpreter services offers signing; your parentsmay have a cell phone with large buttons; and your favorite location forviewing the game has multiple TV screens with closed-captioning.

    Marketers know -- but sometimes forget -- that people with disabilitieshave the same range of preferences, perceptions, attitudes, habits andneeds that drive consumer behavior of people without disabilities. Howeverthis is a population that is often overlooked by marketers. Yet technologythat may be the single greatest asset to disabled people. Designers oftenlack the motivation or awareness to ensure that websites become outfittedfor the disabled.

    This white paper provides a background on ADA compliance and will show

    how healthcare marketers and IT teams can take simple steps in the designof their interactive content to reach a segment that can become the mostloyal audience and prospective consumer of services. The appendix is avaluable how to reference and provides a list of some free Web basedresources that you can use to check your own site for compliance.

    Background

    On August 7, 1998, the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which includesthe Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, was signed into law. Section508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments requires that when Federaldepartments or agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic andinformation technology, they must ensure that the technology is accessibleto people with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed onthe department or agency. On June 21, 2001 Section 1194.22 was enactedfor Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications;

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    providing standards for Federal agencies to follow when producing webpages. The regulations must be adhered to unless doing so would result inan undue burden.

    What The Standards Cover

    Section 1194.22 consists of 16 subsections that address mainly technicalparameters of web page programming:

    (a) Text Tags(b) Multimedia Presentations(c) Color(d) Readability(e) Server-Side Image Maps

    (f) Client-Side Image Maps(g)&(h) Data Table(i) Frames(j) Flicker Rate(k) Text-Only Alternative(l) Scripts(m) Applets and Plug-Ins(n) Electronic Forms(o) Navigation Links(p) Time Delays

    In general these are standards that are a generally accepted best practicesfor design. However problems can exist when alternate tags have not beenconsistently utilized through out a web site, or when graphic designers mayhave utilized rapidly changing scenes or animations which exceed thestandards for flicker rates which can have the unwarranted effect oftriggering seizures in some visitors which specific medical conditions.

    The appendix contains explains the rationale behind these

    requirements and offers code level examples for complying withthe standards.

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    Why The Standards Are Important To Hospital Marketers

    The latest Census Report (2005) indicates that 54.4 Million out of 296Million US residents have some form of recognized disability this wasroughly 1 out of every 5 people.

    Key data points from this report yield the following insights:

    These 54.4 million Americans are roughly equal to the combinedtotal populations of California and Florida.

    28,000,000 (10% of population) are deaf or hearing impaired. 11,400,000 people have visual conditions not correctable by glasses. 6,400,000 new cases of eye disease occur each year. 2,800,000 people are visually handicapped from color blindness. 1,100,000 people are legally blind.

    The current estimate of the US population is 307 Million so

    the above numbers are much higher now.

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    Under ADA, Hospital facilities are required to have physicalaccommodations for these disabled visitors who may represent a significantportion of the patient population they are treating. It is only logical thathospital marketers would be able to reach this population who isconducting an on-line virtual visit to their institution. As an examplepatient with hearing disabilities may have extreme value in being able toview a closed-captioned video discussion of a cochlear ear implant surgicalprocedure. The manager of consumer health information for the NationalLibrary of Medicines MedlinePlus.gov shares,

    Of course being a non-governmental organization a hospital

    doesn't have to (legally) comply, but it seems like a good idea to

    at least check on the issues to serve this audience.

    When is compliance mandated?

    As noted above the regulations apply to governmental organizations. Theyalso apply to any website content which is being developed as part of aFederally funded initiative. As a healthcare institution, you may have beenthe fortunate recipient of grants from the Health and Human Services aspart of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) or from theCenter For Disease Control (CDC) a particular research project which willinvolve a reporting requirement. While this report will have specificformatting requirements under Section 508, if communication of thisproject involves an intranet or public website, then compliance is required.The onus is clearly going to be on the marketer to stay aware of anyFederal funds their hospital is receiving for research and understandreporting requirements attached to the grant especially if the grant is beinguse to fund the creation of on-line content.

    The Mobile Web

    Fast-forward to 2010 and the mobile Web that didnt exist in 2001.

    Currently Section 508 compliance for mobile sites is a gray area. Somesmart phones have built in accessibility text-to-voice software (iPhone 3GSand Nexus One), and third-party developers have similar apps forWindows Mobile phones. We reached back out to the National Library ofMedicine to ask how it handled the mobile site for its highly trafficked Website, MedlinePlus.gov. The National Library of Medicine said that it didntstrive to make the mobile site completely 508 compliant because it is not a

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    separate Web site but a derivative of the complete MedlinePlus, which iscompliant with Section 508. This approach appears to be very logical.

    Considerations For Video

    The standards for video require that closed-captioning be employed in syncwith the respective audio. These requirements apply to both on-demandand live streaming video. This is achieved via the creation of a time-stamped transcript, which is converted to a file that is displayed within thevideo player, typically as an optional CC view. Marketers have usedcommercial captioning services, such as CaptionMax or LNS Captioning, toproduce the requisite assets. This was at times a burdensome andsomewhat costly process.

    The good news is that Googles YouTube platform is now making thisprocess easier with the roll out of auto-captions. This service was testedlast November on a limited basis; it now is available to all videos uploadedto YouTube where English is spoken. This is a fantastic step forward foraccessibility for deaf Internet users. Says Google Vice President Vint Cerf,who is hearing impaired himself:

    Google believes that the worlds information should be

    accessible to everyone. One of the big challenges of the

    video medium is whether it can be made accessible to

    everyone.

    YouTube is relying on Googles Speech Technology, which isnt perfect;auto-captions require a clearly spoken audio track so videos withbackground noises or where the speaker uses a muffled voice cant beauto-captioned. Auto-captions arent perfect and just like any othertranscription, the owner of the video needs to check to make sure theyreaccurate and manually correct the captioned text file as required. In othercases, the audio file may not be good enough to generate auto-captions.

    The auto-captioning makes the videos accessible not just to deaf people,but also to viewers around the world, who can translate any video thats inEnglish to another language. This feature alone can help hospital marketersreach non-English speaking audiences again the translations will be madeusing machine language software so they will not necessar