Keeping up with the ever-expanding world of accessibility standards and conformance requirements can be a challenge for many organizations. Tech for All helps its partners identify which standards are applicable to their products or services and provides the technical assessments and guidance necessary to achieve conformance and a truly accessible experience for all users.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act is a primary vehicle for assuring that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to succeed. The ADA specifies some design standards, but does not include technical standards for web and mobile technologies. Instead, other widely used existing technical standards are heavily relied upon, specifically the WCAG Guidelines described below.
The most comprehensive and widely recognized web accessibility standards, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1) technical documents are developed by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (WCAG WG), which is part of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). TFA's website and web application evaluations follow the WCAG structure and reference the applicable standards when accessibility barriers are detected. WCAG 2.1 specifies three levels of accessibility conformance - A, AA, and AAA. Tech for All follows the guidelines for Level AA conformance in our evaluations and remediation recommendations. Level AA conformance guarantees accessibility for most users with disabilities. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines also serve as a benchmark for evaluating non-web content, such as desktop and mobile applications and electronic texts (such as EPUB).
Tech for All team members have been involved with the Section 508 Technical Standards since the beginning. Tech for All’s President, Caesar Eghtesadi was part of the group that authored the standard. TFA continues to maintain a high level of expertise in all of its facets.
Background: In 1998 the US Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals.
Significant advances in technology during the last decade have left the current Section 508 Accessibility Standards inadequate. The Access Board has undertaken a major revision and anticipates release of the new "Section 508 Refresh" standards later this year.
To facilitate effective communication between producers of products and services and government agencies, an information template (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)) was created by a joint government and industry effort Information Technology Industry Council. Its purpose is to assist federal and state agencies and other purchasers in making preliminary assessments regarding the availability of commercial ICT products and services with features that support accessibility standards.
For his contributions to creating the Standards for Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Amendment Act of 1998, Caesar is honored by June I. Kailes, Chairwoman of Access Board, in May 1999.
21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act
The 2010 passage of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (21st CVAA) establishes new requirements for Internet and broadcast services, including requirements for provision of audio description on selected television programming and accessible UIs on television and video display devices. The CVAA ensures that accessibility laws enacted in the 1980s and 1990s are brought up to date for 21st century technologies, including new digital, broadband, and mobile innovations.
The TFA team has completed numerous multimedia projects conforming with the 21st CVAA requirements.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), in its ongoing effort to ensure equal access to air transportation for all travelers, is requiring airline websites and automated airport kiosks to be accessible to passengers with disabilities.
Under the new websites-and-kiosks rule, covered airlines are required to make pages of their websites that contain core travel information and services accessible to persons with disabilities and to make all of their web pages accessible by the end of 2016. Websites are required to meet the standards for accessibility contained in the widely accepted Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Automated airport kiosks must be accessible to all passengers by the end of 2016 as well.
Tech for All has been working in partnership with several national and international air carriers to help their web and kiosk teams meet the standards in time. TFA team has developed innovative solutions that allow passengers with disabilities to navigate airport kiosk transactions through the use of audio-assisted interfaces and tactile keys.
TFA has significant experience in the design of an accessible Inflight Entertainment & Communication System. Our work with Inflight Entertainment/Communications (IFE/IFC) Systems will allow TFA to help clients respond to pending DOT requirements to address IFE/IFC accessibility.
Improving Independent Travel
Tech for All is currently working with several airline clients to help them meet the ACAA guidelines for website and airport kiosk accessibility.