Blind Vet Tech News Update: Accessibility and Usability – Blind Vet Tech

Welcome to the first Blind Vet Tech News Update, the podcast presenting news, information, and thoughts related to expansive tech world. In this episode, Terry and I introduce ourselves, review Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, introduce the Web Accessibility Initiative, debate accessibility versus usability, and how these items formed the Information and Communications Technologies Refresh.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act established the core accessibility requirements for electronic and digital informational technologies for Federal, state, and similar entities. Originally established in 1986, the regulations received only two updates. The 1998 update established requirements for items like federal and state websites, web-based services, and other items based on the type of technology. The Information and Communications Technologies Refresh redefined web accessibility requirements by adopting the Web Accessibility Initiative’s guidelines and reclassifying technology categories based on their function.

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is a collective of industry leaders, disability advocates, and governmental representatives under the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The aim is to establish a fluid set of accessibility guidelines for the world wide web and anything interacting with it. This becomes more important as devices, like smart phones, wearables, and VR/AR, change how we interact with not just the world wide web by the greater internet. Without a baseline set of accessibility recommendations, we as disabled consumers would be lost.

Both Section 508 and the WAI struggle in one area, what does accessibility and usability mean. Yes, something may be completely accessible but not usable, demonstrating the objective versus subjective nature of the debate. In the comment fields below, what does accessibility and usability mean to you?

The Information and Communications Technologies Refresh pulls these three items together and redefines Section 508, Section 255 of the communications act, and so much more. The US Access Board overseen this update, presenting the update in January 2017 with an publication date in March 2017. Federal and State entities have until January2018 to release their updated policies and bring their services into compliance.

Thank you for listening to the Blind Vet Tech News Update. The focus on Section 508, WAI, accessibility versus usability, and the ICT Refresh provided an overview of the accessibility menace in the evolving digital world.

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