Operational Work Plan Detail

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The Committee has drafted an aggressive plan for the upcoming year. As the outline demonstrates, a great deal of effort will be put into awareness and technical skills training. This investment will allow us to move forward with our goal of institutionalizing accessibility requirements in Maine State Government.

Technical training will be in the development and design of applications as well as web sites. While Section 508 has brought a good deal of attention to the needs of accessible web sites, application development has been more of a gray area with many thinking if accessibility becomes an issue, it's simply a matter of the procurement of the correct assistive technology. While assistive technology can provide a solution, often without the proper initial design implementation can prove difficult and the result not as efficient for the end user as when the application is designed to support such technology. "Usability" must be as important as accessibility.

Awareness training programs will provide state employees with a better understanding of what accessible technology means, and the impact of deploying technology that somehow creates barriers to information for individuals. This year we are creating programs that will provide the opportunity for individuals to experience first hand how difficult it can be for users with physical or mental challenges to access information with technology that does provide full accessibility.

Several of these training programs are already in the development states and the committee will be partnering with the Bureau of Human Resources to deploy the complete program in the upcoming year.

Our next priority focuses on ensuring compliance in all areas of accessibility. We are in the process of beginning this effort with our review of current polices and standards. We then will develop additional standards in the area of telecommunications that are not yet in place.

Most importantly in this area, we will refine processes that will assist in the monitoring of compliance with those policies and standards. These audit processes will allow us to identify issues and work with agencies to correct them before they become a problem for an end user. To date we often are addressing problems after the fact so with improved processes in place we will have the capability to address potential issues before technology is actually deployed.

Finally, we will continue to dedicate resources to both state and national accessibility efforts. Our work with these entities allows us to ensure consistency of such policies nationwide which provides technology vendors with clear direction as to what is required in this most important area, while we maximize our resources by not re-inventing the wheel.

We feel our plans for the upcoming year, while aggressive for a team who all have other responsibilities, will provide Maine State Government with an increased infrastructure of accessibility awareness that will allow us all to better serve the citizens.

Good modern library service includes a commitment to providing material in the widest possible variety of formats. We are all differently-abled: video, audio, print, electronic, graphics, text-- the more ways we can share thoughts and ideas with one another, the better.

Melora Ranney, Outreach Services, Maine State Library

 

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