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

Leveling the ICT Playing Field

Updates to Section 508 Newly Proposed and Seeking Public Comment
On February 18th, the United States Access Board released a proposed rule that updates many of the current standards related to the accessibility of information and communication technology (ICT), also referred to as ICT Refresh. The updated standards and guidelines are intended to more accurately reflect the rapidly evolving e-commerce industry and web-based services and technology of recent years. The existing Section 508 standards related to ICT accessibility were issued back in 2000. A lot has changed since then. To put it in perspective, the first iPhone was only brought to market in 2007, and the first Android smartphone only hit the market in 2008. The proposed ICT Refresh also includes an update to the Section 255 guidelines, which require telecommunications products and services to be made accessible to people with disabilities. The ICT Refresh seeks to harmonize with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, WCAG 2.0, the recommendation of the World Wide Web Consortium, W3C.
Two public hearings will be held on the proposed rule. The first hearing takes place at the CSUN Conference in San Diego on March 5th. The second hearing takes place in Washington D.C. on March 11th.  John Rempel of AMAC and AccessGA is attending the March 5th hearing and will provide updated information in the next AccessGA newsletter. To learn more about ICT Refresh, visit: Proposed Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines


The Impact and Importance of Accessibility: A Personal Account

The integration of accessibility within ICT has a very powerful impact on the quality of life and level of independence for individuals with disabilities. Shirley Robinson, Georgia’s first Rehabilitation Unit Manager for the Blind with the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, GVRA, understands this firsthand.

Head shot of Shirley Robinson
Shirley Robinson, Unit Manager for the Blind with GVRA

Shirley gradually lost her vision from an eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa. Many of the tasks that she carried out visually at one time in her life are now done non-visually through a combination of low tech and high tech solutions. As a braille user, she relies on braille labels to identify items within her office such as folders. She also relies on screen reading technology when using her smartphone and computer to access electronic information. Shirley’s formal education as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, along with her own adjustment to declining vision, has given her a keen understanding of the needs of blind and visually impaired consumers whom she serves. In 2008, she completed the Vision Specialist Certification Program through Mississippi State University’s Graduate Studies Program. In 2010, Shirley successfully completed the Executive Commitment to Excellence in Leadership (EXCEL) training program through the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia. Shirley has achieved these accomplishments through a great deal of hard work and determination. She acknowledges that these achievements would not have been possible without the ability to access electronic information and assistive technology solutions.  
View Shirley's video on using low tech and high tech solutions to achieve greater independence.

Accessible Multimedia and Closed Captioning Webinar

Look for an announcement soon for an upcoming webinar presentation given by Sheryl Ballenger, Manager of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services with AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Research Center. Sheryl will present information on the importance of providing closed captioning of multimedia on websites and video hosting sites. She will also provide participants with a number of tools and techniques that are widely available.
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.