2003 Accomplishments Reported by Focus Area
The Committee has documented six focus areas and identified initiatives that would support each one of those. No one area is weighted any higher than another as it is felt all are critical to the objective of equal access to information and technology.
Ongoing monitoring and follow up when accessibility policies are breached
- The OCIO reported three clear violations of accessibility policies in the area of both web and application accessibility. They documented the specifics of each instance and then met with the agencies and responsible vendors to ensure the issues were addressed immediately.
Compliance testing of state websites
- The Committee sponsored web accessibility pilot tested sites at random during the summer of 2003 and reported back to agencies on issues their pages had. Additionally, individuals who have found problems with sites have reported them to the Office of the CIO, who then has worked with the appropriate state agencies to address and correct the issues.
Updating web accessibility standards
- The Committee charted a sub-committee which reviewed the current policies and standards. The sub-committee first updated the Application Policy to include current technology. The Web Policy was rewritten in a new format which made it easier for webmasters to quickly identify issues, better understand the impact of them and, most importantly, how they can correct them. Both changes were approved by the ISPB in 2003. The same team drafted a letter and presentation for vendors to give them a high level overview of what IT accessibility means.
Software testing (Internal and Vendor)
- Committee members (Floyd White, Gil Whitmore and Pauline Lamontagne Esq.) have continued to provide testing of software for internal and external development groups. The effort has included testing with screen readers, voice recognition software and testing of websites for compliance.
Communication of national efforts
- Kathy Powers continues to be the liaison between the State and national accessibility efforts. She represents Maine on accessible information technology issues to the Northeast Region ADA Technical Assistance Center, Boston MA, as well on a national work group of Information Technology and Training Technical Assistance Center (ITTATC) that identifies issues and develops resources related to accessible electronic and information technology for states and the federal government. She updates the Committee on a monthly basis, including Maine staff in efforts as appropriate. She requested Maine be a panelist on an ITTATC audio cast which will highlight progress states have made in the area of accessibility, as well as challenges they face. The planning began for this in December of 2003 and the audio cast is currently scheduled for the end of January.
Sharing status of current private and public sector litigation
- The Committee has multiple resources for the sharing of private and public sector litigation, the most visible to the Committee being Pauline Lamontagne Esq., who is a member. Public sector litigation is highlighted in the Cabinet presentation that the CIO will bring to the Governor in the first part of 2004.
Resources & Support
Identify testing resources (software and hardware)
- Testing resources identified are still limited to staff within the Committee. It is the goal that in 2004 that through community outreach we will expand these resources.
Publish best practices on website and in MIST
- The summer intern identified best practices for the accessible design of state web sites. These practices will be reviewed by a sub-committee charged with giving final approval to all recommendations included in the report and published upon completion of this effort.
Create list of expertise in accessibility to assist as needed
- The accessibility website has continued to be updated throughout the year with additional links that provide webmasters with resources that will assist them with accessibility training and best practices. The information can be found at www.maine.gov/cio/accessibility/. Again, through outreach efforts in 2004 it's expected that this list will be expanded.
- The Committee chartered a telecommunications sub-committee in the latter part of 2003. This Committee, chaired by Jan DeVinney from the Department of Labor, identified the issue of TTYs not being answered in a consistent manner within the state and took that on as their first project. After some research into the issue it was noted that much of the problem related to the fact that TTY calls were relatively infrequent in some areas, so when there was a TTY call often staff were unsure of how to answer it correctly. The Bureau of Information Services recommended that the state look into NexTalk, a product which would allow TTY calls to be received on a desktop PC, which all staff were familiar with. The sub-committee has performed a pilot to test the functionality of the product and is now moving forward with an implementation plan for 2004.
Targeted product training on accessibility
- The Committee sponsored Dreamweaver training for state agencies and has worked with State Training to ensure that accessibility was highlighted during this training. The Committee also sponsored LIFT training (a tool that assists webmasters with accessibility) which included purchasing the software for those agencies who participated.
Accessibility awareness in mandatory management training
- Accessibility awareness training was presented to State of Maine business managers at the Maine Technology Conference in the summer of 2003. We have also incorporated awareness training into Maine Management System's training program.
Accessible web design
- Several training opportunities were provided during the summer of 2003 through the summer web accessibility pilot. While it was originally planned for only those participating in the pilot, it was then opened to others who didn't have the time to commit to the full pilot, but could benefit from individual sessions.
Visibility and Awareness
State of Maine accessibility website
- The website www.maine.gov/cio/accessibility has had additional training links posted this year. The Committee continues to encourage individuals to take advantage of free on line training, especially in the area of web accessibility.
Annual report on accessibility to Cabinet
- The presentation to the cabinet has been prepared and will be presented in late January or early February by the Chief Information Officer.
Awareness Conferences/Seminars sponsored by the Committee
- Web Accessibility awareness training for business managers was presented at the 2003 Maine Technology Conference held in Augusta Maine. The focus was to demonstrate the cost when we do not make web sites accessible to all citizens.
- Several articles that focused on web accessibility were published this year. They highlighted the work planned and accomplished by the summer pilot sponsored by the Committee that gave a new tool to webmasters to assist with accessibility (LIFT); surveyed them to better understand what they saw as obstacles to their success; and worked with other states to document best practices.
CIO's monthly report to Governor includes accessibility section
- The OCIO continues to include this section in the monthly report to the Governor. The reports are published on the OCIO website, www.maine.gov/cio