2003 Conference Proceedings

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SECTION 508: THE WEB AND BEYOND

Presenters
Christine E. Louton, Director
Accessible Technology Center
1849 C Street, NW, MS 1013
Washington, DC 20240
202-208-3784 (V)
202-208-6248 (TTY)
Website: http://www.doi.gov/atc

The Department of the Interior's (DOI) Accessible Technology Center (ATC) was opened October 5, 2000 to support employees' with disabilities by determining the appropriate assistive technology and ergonomic solutions tailored to the needs of each individual. It also serves as the Department's accessibility and Section 508 resource to provide awareness, information, and training to bureaus to help them facilitate compliance with accessibility standards.

The ATC was implemented with the help of a contractor, Cherry Engineering Support Services, Inc. (CESSI), whose staff have successfully operated the program's assistive technology component and have developed and provided demonstrations and training on accessibility and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.

This talk is about how Department of the Interior's Section 508 training has been conducted to date and the resources we have available to expand that training.

Why expand?

Because Section 508 deals with much more than web applications, we plan to educate DOI staff about compliance standards for electronic and information technology hardware devices such as photocopiers and kiosks, operating systems, and non-web applications. In addition to Section 508, we also feel our staff needs to understand the mandates of other Sections of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Namely, Sections 501 dealing with affirmative employment, and Section 504, which addresses the accessibility of our programs through "reasonable accommodations" to better serve our current and potential employees as well as our visiting public.

The Accessible Technology Center has designed or has access to course materials designed for other Federal agencies. These include:

  1. Web design for People with Disabilities (DOI)
  2. Buying and Building Accessible Software - (Access Board)
  3. Software Applications and Operating Systems (FAA)
  4. Program Manager's Section 508 Training (HSS)

The Department of the Interior's Accessible Technology Center began teaching its "Web Design for People with Disabilities" hands-on class for designing accessible web sites in February of 2001. Since that time, around 450 web masters and designers, both federal employees and the contractors that design pages for the federal government have attended. The web classes have been conducted across the country and continue in Washington, DC and Denver. As far as we know, this is the only hands-on instruction offered by a Federal agency.

We see this as just the first phase of Section 508 instruction at the Department because the regulation covers much more than web applications. Further training will be developed in coordination with Nancy Trent, Interior's Section 508 coordinator.

Future course development will take advantage of existing instructional guides developed for other Federal agencies and will include feedback from 508 coordinators representing each of our bureaus and major offices.

Cherry Engineering Support Services, Inc. (CESSI) extensive experience in the field of Assistive Technology and disability services includes the development of http://www.section508.gov for the General Services Administration (GSA), the development of the instructional guides for the Access Board "Building and Buying Accessible Software" and for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on "Software Applications and Operating Systems".

CESSI and the ATC are also working together to develop a Section 508 awareness training program for 15,000 - 20,000 Health and Human Services' Program Managers.

This talk will describe in some detail the specifics of the various 508 training we have taught and are currently designing.

The objectives' of our training initiatives are to give all our employees the information they need to go beyond complying with regulations and in this way foster greater inclusion of people with disabilities in our work place.


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