On behalf of Word Wizards, Inc. I would like to thank our friends at USDA for hosting this year’s Interagency Disability Educational Awareness Showcase. It was our first year attending as an exhibitor and we took full advantage of this opportunity to demonstrate our accessibility services. The focus of our exhibit took the form of a simple question that yielded not so simple answers, “Is there a difference between compliance and accessibility?”
The following individuals gave presentations this year at the conference:
Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy
Dinah Cohen, Director, Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP), U.S. Department of Defense
David M. Capozzi, Executive Director, U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board).
Tim Creagan, Senior Accessibility Specialist, U.S. Access Board.
Alison S. Levy, Departmental Disability Employment Program Manager, U.S. Department of Agriculture
We were delighted to share the floor with our fellow accessibility vendors and do some valuable networking with our peers, friendly competitors, and section 508 coordinators. IDEAS is the perfect opportunity to see whats on the forefront of accessibility services and technology. Section 508 compliance regulations may soon be getting a facelift, as agencies attempt to standardize compliance policy across the Federal space.
Section 508 compliance is more than just another service for our organization, it is a critical aspect of our mission to provide more access for disabled individuals on the internet. We look forward to analyzing the results of our compliance vs accessibility survey and publishing them for all to review. Remember, the business of section 508 compliance and all disabilities services is about people, real people with real problems need real solutions, bottom line.
Accessibility vs. Compliance: Whats The Difference?
The demand for section 508 accessibility compliance services has never been greater. With a huge volume of companies, organizations, and independent consultants now claiming to offer 508 compliance solutions, it is increasingly difficult to know who is who in the industry. From our experience there are two different types of player in the world of 508 compliance services.
The first is are firms looking to marginally increase their revenues by accessing the emerging market for 508 compliance services. These companies claim that they are 508 compliance experts, who then turn around and outsource to firms that are very good at meeting the legal requirements of compliance without a concern for the accessibility of the final product. In this case, the client meets its legal requirement, yet fails to provide true accessibility. Unfortunately, the end result is a low cost solution to a potentially expensive problem and people are willing to ignore the obvious short comings for minimal cost savings.
The second type of player are the firms that are honestly dedicated to providing accessible content solutions for their clients. Companies of this nature (like us here at Word Wizards) actually know how this process is done because they do it in house. These companies make it a priority to go beyond the legal requirements of the section 508 accessibility law, ensuring that the services they provide for their customers result in media content that is accessible and of significant value to those with visual or auditory disabilities.
The difference is all about context, its about creating something that takes the limitations of those individuals with disabilities into account. Something could be considered “compliant” with no real advantage to the end user, aka someone with sensory disabilities; and, in our minds, that is worse than doing nothing in the first place. It is our continuing mission here at Word Wizards to work towards a more accessible internet experience for the U.S. Government and beyond.
Some Good IDEAS
So, we invite you to join us this year at the IDEAS conference and decide for yourself, just remember, when your age finally catches up and your senses no longer work like they used to, are you going to expect the bare minimum when it comes time to interacting effectively with the government, or would you rather someone had gotten the job done right before it was to late for you.