From: Patrick Douglas Crispen
Subject: TOURBUS -- 2 APR 03 -- MORE 508 STUFF
Howdy, y'all, and greetings once again from deep behind the orange curtain in beautiful Irvine, California, filmed in front of a live studio audience.
Fellow TOURBUS rider Valerie asks
Can you please tell me what "from deep behind the orange curtain in beautiful Irvine, California, hog butcher to the world" means? I wonder with every issue!
Well, Valerie, there are two answers to your question. First, despite what you may have heard, the "orange curtain" reference does *NOT* mean that my home was decorated in a 1960's Howard Johnson's motif.
Most everyone in the world knows of Los Angeles, and some even think that LA stretches from Malibu to the Mexico border. But smack dab between Los Angeles and San Diego is Orange County, a world both COMPLETELY unto itself and as vehemently UN-Los Angeles as a place can get. Hence the "orange curtain" quote.
As for the "hog butcher to the world" quote, back when I was living in beautiful Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I ran out of things to say about my hometown. So in 2000 I just started making stuff up, saying that Tuscaloosa was the "financial capital of the new European Union," the "gateway to the Adriatic," and [one of my favorites] the " midpoint of the emperor penguin's annual migratory route."
When I moved from beautiful Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to beautiful Irvine, California [a baked pie of Italian origin consisting of a shallow breadlike crust covered with seasoned tomato sauce, cheese, and often other toppings, such as sausage or olives], I decided to keep the "let's make stuff up about my hometown" tradition alive.
I hope this clears things up. :)
TOURBUS is made possible by the kind support of our sponsors. Please take a moment to visit today's sponsors and thank them for keeping our little bus of Internet happiness on the road week after week.
On with the show ...
Last week we talked about both section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and sites you can visit to learn how to make your Web pages 508 compliant. I received a BUNCH of email about that post.
Here in NYS, we must adhere to the W3C guidelines for website accessibility. They are SLIGHTLY different than the Section 508 ones. I have lots of links at
on this topic. I have been teaching Website Accessibility for several years now. In fact, it became policy in NYS in December of 2000: a full 6 months before the federal law in June of 2001..
JL adds that
most states have also adopted ADA web site compliance directives. Consequently most state's web sites, sub-sites, agency sites, must comply with 508 standards.
Since I commonly work with underfunded conservation districts and environmental nonprofits who typically have web work done by volunteers, I have free online workshops on Accessibility and security issues at:
The workshops are designed to help do-it-yourself types and beginning web designers get a handle on dealing with 508 compliance.
If you are interested in tools to check your site for 508 compliance, Ihor notes that
The University of Toronto's Adaptive Technology Resource Centre (ATRC) and the TRACE Center at the University of Wisconsin have jointly developed "A-Prompt", a web accessibilty verifier program. It does check for the 16 web design rules you mentioned in your article. See:
The software is available free of charge.
But what if you don't want to download any new software? Well, "M" has dug up a site s/he
found to be very helpful - you can check your whole site for compliance:
And, of course, don't forget Bobby at
And for those of you who don't have a Web site and are wondering why I'm even talking about section 508, here are two comments that might interest you. First, Phillip writes
The U.S. government has a rule that says that any software considered for purchase by the government must have a statement describing how well the software conforms to section 508 guidelines ...
For now, compliance with section 508 is NOT required for the government to purchase your software. The only requirement is that you document how well you comply. Obviously, better compliance is a competitive advantage in getting a government contract. This is slowly changing, however. Although the law doesn't require compliance, some universities and government bodies are changing their individual policies to requiring compliance before purchasing software.
So what does this have to do with you and me? Well, considering that the government buys a LOT more software than you and I do, the government's [future] requirement that the software it purchases be 508 compliant will probably mean that MOST commercial software programs will soon be 508 compliant.
And you heard it here first. :)
Finally, Sam adds
I just wanted to write you to thank you for covering section 508 in one of your Tourbus newsletters. As you are already aware from the numerous blind callers you get on Website Wednesday Nights on WGN radio, there is a large base of blind and visually- impaired computer users who listen to your show. The Internet has proven to be both a godsend and a curse to the disabled community. It has provided access to information that was previously not available to us in a timely or economic fashion, but the barriers created by emerging technology and incompatible design have also created barriers to this information as well. You don't know how frustrating it is to visit a site in order to obtain information, conduct a transaction or fill out a form, only to be met with these stumbling blocks that shut the door to the Internet in your face. Of course, this problem lies way beyond the Internet. Much more insidious than access to the web is the problem of access to noncompliant software. Unfortunately, enough companies still do not feel obligated to use programming techniques to render their software accessible to assistive technologies. And of course going beyond the computer are all the stand-alone digital devices, DVD players, etc. which do not provide accessible alternatives. It's a shame that accessibility has become such a hot topic only so recently. Of course, CAST and Bobby, along with other accessibility tools and standards, have been around long before Section 508, but oftentimes it takes a law to wake up corporate America and get them to realize that they need to cater to all of their consumers.
Well said. :)
That's it for today. Have a safe and happy week, and we'll talk again soon. :)