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AccessGA Newsletter October 2015
AccessGA logo: Georgia's Accessible ICT Initiative

Georgia Technology Authority: A National Model of
ICT Accessibility for State Agencies

Who or what is Georgia Technology Authority (GTA)? GTA manages the delivery of IT infrastructure services to 85 Executive Branch agencies and managed network services to 1,300 state and local government entities. GTA’s GeorgiaGov Interactive team maintains a website platform providing design templates and web developer training, as well as hosting over 80 state agency websites and the georgia.gov web portal.
In recent years, GeorgiaGov Interactive has made a concerted effort to improve and promote the accessibility of the State of Georgia’s public websites and other information and communication technology (ICT). GeorgiaGov Interactive has been proactive with its approach to web accessibility, and building accessible functionality into templates some of which include the following: a “Skip to Content” link that allows persons accessing the page without a mouse to more quickly navigate to its main content; alternative text descriptions (alt text) on images for screen reader users; and effectively labeled headings and links to enhance navigation for people with disabilities.
 

Accessibility Champions: Promoting Equal Access for Everyone

Through their outstanding leadership and commitment to improving ICT Accessibility across the state of Georgia, Nikhil Deshpande (Director, GeorgiaGov Interactive) and Kendra Skeene (Product Manager) have been leading the charge. Through AccessGA, a joint initiative and partnership with AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Research Center, the State of Georgia ADA Coordinator’s Office, GTA and other Georgia state agencies to promote ICT Accessibility within Georgia, the GeorgiaGov team move toward an ever greater level of ICT Accessibility. As part of this initiative, GeorgiaGov Interactive has selected approximately a dozen of their commonly used web-based themes and templates to be evaluated by AMAC’s ICT Accessibility team. These themes and templates are then being remediated by the GeorgiaGov Interactive team to provide greater accessibility throughout state agencies across Georgia. A number of other GeorgiaGov Interactive initiatives to promote ICT Accessibility include:
  • Regularly highlighting the importance of Accessibility in the team’s blog posts
  • GOVTalks conference sessions covering the importance of accessibility and the practical application of making website content accessible
  • Highlighting tips to make content accessible during regular training sessions
  • Including the importance of accessibility during CIO council briefings
 

Legal Requirements

There are a number of benefits to creating accessible information and communication technology (ICT). Accessible ICT improves the quality of life for people with disabilities, it allows businesses and agencies to reach a larger target audience, and it improves search engine optimization (SEO).
An additional benefit to promoting ICT Accessibility is avoiding potentially costly and time-consuming lawsuits. In recent years, The Department of Justice (DOJ) has been applying the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ICT Accessibility in several settlements, including state and federal entities, educational institutions and for-profit institutions. As stated on DOJ’s website:  

“As more and more of our social infrastructure is made available on the Internet–in some cases, exclusively online–access to information and electronic technologies is increasingly becoming the gateway civil rights issue for individuals with disabilities.”
“Electronic and information technologies are swiftly becoming a gateway to employment…Employment recruiting and hiring systems are often web based. In many cases, the only way to apply for a job or to sign up for an interview is on the internet. Job applicants research opportunities online, and they use the internet to most efficiently learn about potential employers’ needs and policies.”
The State of Georgia provides its own accessibility guidelines that apply to its state websites. According to Georgia’s Website Accessibility Standards,

“…websites owned and managed by state agencies SHALL meet at least the minimum standards for accessibility as defined by the W3C guidelines.”

Achieving ICT Accessibility is a journey, and not a final destination. GTA’s GeorgiaGov Interactive is providing the State of Georgia, and other agencies and states across the country, a successful accessibility road map of continued initiatives and improvements worth emulating.   
 

Learn More About ICT Accessibility

The AccessGA website [www.accessga.org] houses a number of resources specifically related to ICT Accessibility, including: WebAIM also provides valuable resources and information related to ICT Accessibility. It is important to keep in mind that ICT Accessibility is a journey, not a final destination. Tackling what is often referred to as “low hanging fruit” (more easily achievable and less time consuming accessibility initiatives) represents a good faith effort, and opens the door for improved web design and greater access for everyone.
 

Registration Now Open for Upcoming Webinars in November, 2015

10 Tips for Applying WCAG 2.0 to Mobile Websites

Nov. 4th: 11:00-12:00
Mobile access to the Internet is frequently becoming the primary way in which many people access information. In recent settlements, the Department of Justice has required compliance with WCAG 2.0 (Level A and AA) guidelines for both desktop and mobile access. In this webinar, Janet Sylvia, Web Accessibility Group (WAG) Leader, will be providing 10 tips for applying WCAG 2.0 to mobile websites.
To register for this webinar, access the following link: (Tips for Applying WCAG 2.0 to Mobile Websites) The login link will be emailed to registered individuals within 48 hours of the event.
 

Procurement as a Vehicle for Meeting Organizational IT Accessibility Objectives

Nov. 5th: 1:00-2:00
When it comes to compliance, especially for information technology accessibility, procurement language has been generally short on details. Chris Law, considered a national expert on procurement in the area of accessible information and communication technology, will present information on how to tie measurement into contracts, and how to use that as a vehicle for meeting organizational objectives on IT accessibility.  
To register for this webinar, access the following link: (Procurement and ICT Accessibility)
AccessGA, Georgia’s Accessible ICT Initiative, is a program of the State of Georgia ADA Coordinator's Office, AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Research Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Georgia Technology Authority's GeorgiaGov Interactive.