October is here and National Disability Awareness Month is almost gone. But there’s still time to make decisions that will pay off for your career, or, the project you’re planning to work on next summer. There’s an ongoing search for people who can advance web accessibility and Dr. James Logan of the Georgia Institute of Technology identifies things you should know.
Why learn web accessibility
“The web accessibility compliance auditor, is a field that every computer science and information systems student should think of pursing,” says Dr. James Logan, who is the quality assurance manager for Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Information Systems. “It really is just an extension of information systems. The field has so many opportunities for web developers.”
The field Logan represents lead quality assurance support to information technology departments, information systems, information security, networking, Section 508 law and policy recommendations, and systems performance.
Logan and his team provide plain-English explanations of legislation that helps people decipher the Section 508 law and related laws and policies.
What is Section 508?
In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.
The law (29 U.S.C. § 794 (d)) applies to all federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology.
Under Section 508, agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to access available to others.
The United States Access Board discusses the Section 508 law and its responsibility for developing accessibility standards for electronic and information technology to incorporate into regulations that govern federal procurement practices.
On January 18, 2018, the Access Board will issue a final rule that updates accessibility requirements for information and communication technology in the federal sector covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
What is the Access Board?
The U.S. Access Board is a federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities through leadership in accessible design and the development of accessibility guidelines and standards for the built environment, transportation, communication, medical diagnostic equipment, and information technology.
“If you’re going to sell products or services to federal agencies or state schools, you have to be an accessible vendor,” Logan says. “We test the compliance of an information and communication technology (ICT), test with the JAWS screen reader, a color contrast checker, and check if a PDF is accessible.”
Jaws, or Job Access With Speech, is a screen reader, developed for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse. JAWS provides speech and Braille output for most popular computer applications on your computer.
New rules from the Access Board refresh guidelines for telecommunications equipment, update and reorganize standards and guidelines in response to the convergence of technologies. The refresh also harmonizes these requirements with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, a globally recognized voluntary consensus standard for web content and ICT.
Section 508 at Georgia Tech
Dr. Logan and team provide quality assurance support to Georgia Institute of Technology departments, both internal and external to the Office of Information Technology, spanning the disciplines of Information Systems, Information Security, Networking, Section 508 Recommendations, and Systems Performance.
As the quality assurance manager at Georgia Tech, Dr. Logan has partnered with the Georgia Institute of Technology Director of Emergency Preparedness and Office of Information Security to create, test and deploy secure Continuity of Operations Plans for departments that maintain sensitive information within the institute’s community.
Take Action and make your move today
The Access Board provides training on its accessibility guidelines and standards to design professionals and architects, facility operators and managers, the transportation industry, the disability community, and members of other professions and groups that work with any of the Board’s guidelines and standards.
For more information or to request training from the Board, contact the Board’s Training Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 272-0022 (voice) or (202) 272-0091 (TTY).