March 17, 2003

No Boundaries Logo

Attending: Val Wood, Mary Silva, Kathleen Powers, Carolyn Beebe, Gil Whitmore, Pauline Lamontagne, Floyd White, Dick Thompson, Laurie Wills, Jeanne Arbour

Agenda Items

Overview of telecommunication issues - Jan

Jan reviewed issues facing the deaf and hard of hearing communities and focused on some areas of concern within state government. A major issue is that TTY's are not being answered. Additionally it was mentioned that signs are not present to clearly note where public TTY's are within buildings. It was decided that issues should be followed up by a sub-committee. Val Wood, Kathy Powers and Mary Silva agreed to work with Jan. Also invited were Eric Dibner and Nancy Melanson, both of the Department of Labor.

Summer Intern - There has been approval for a summer intern to address web accessibility. Val drafted the application and it has been submitted. The intern will sit in the Office of the CIO.

Sub-Committees - Membership committee meeting after this meeting, policy review team will send out new web policy for comment and review at next meeting.

Membership Sub-Committee Notes from 3/17

Will follow in separate document.

Policy Review Sub-Committee Notes from 4/8

Policy Review Sub-Committee Meeting
April 8, 2003

Attending: Floyd White, Delores Crocker, Joyce Kennedy, Mary Silva

Open Items:

Where should the benchmarks for accountability be in the process?

The software tool to be used for testing is only a part of the issue, the processes and procedures for Project Managers in relationship to ADA and their accountability need to be addressed.

Big question: who and/or what entity will actually check off on the accessibility standards? Problems: money, location of testing (Floyd thinks it should be on-site), personnel (even if interns are used, someone needs to train and oversee them, and interns are notoriously transient)

Discussion surrounding open items:

The group began with defining the various methods in which software applications are brought into the state system. There are off the shelf products, products that are brought in and then customized, and finally those that are developed fully in house. For the purpose of beginning the work on benchmarks and methods of ensuring accessibility, we decided to define a process for off the shelf products as they have fewer variables.

We will begin with creating a presentation and/or documentation that fully explains application accessibility as some vendors as well as state personnel may not understand what accessibility means to the end user. Floyd will draft this demo/document. The committee's recommendation will be that this is included with an RFP so that the vendors know expectations at the time they submit their bid.

Additionally, it was decided to craft some language for the package validation piece of the RFP that will outline specific steps that will be required during this process. Those steps will be demonstrating the capability of:

  • using the application without the mouse
  • customizing the screen colors
  • adjusting fonts and/or font sizes

This initial screening should cover almost 90% of accessibility issues. The State will take the responsibility of providing someone with knowledge of screen readers and voice recognition software to test further at a later date. Delores will craft this language for the RFP.

A recommendation will be made that the CIO mandates that there must be a package validation.

Research will be done on how best to provide software required for testing. Mary will research costing options for JAWS.

It was decided to recommend that accountability be placed on project manager.

Telecommunications Issues Sub-Committee Notes from 4/8

Telecommunications Issues Sub-Committee Meeting
April 8, 2003

Attending: Val Wood, Kathy Powers, Mary Silva, Jan DeVinney, Nancy Melanson and Eric Dibner

Agenda: Discussion initially focused on scope and purpose of this group. It was determined for the purpose of this meeting the focus would be on the TTY issue that Jan had presented earlier.
The problem is there are 165 TTY's in State offices, but very few of them are answered correctly in a consistent manner, and messages are not returned promptly. The possibility of moving forward to get an Executive Order was discussed, as well as the recommendation of decreasing the number of TTY's in the state. If we had fewer TTY's in State offices we could leave them in places critical to consumers (BDS, DHS, and DOL) and ensure that those are answered correctly. Other calls could be handled by relay.

Val proposed that we look at new technology to address the issue. He brought information on NXi Telephony Services about using a desktop computer to talk with a TTY user, allowing anyone on the system to have communication accessibility with deaf callers. (They also support paging, PDA's and instant messaging.) Eric, Nancy and Jan had all seen a demo of a free version of this product and had been impressed with it. Many federal agencies, as well as states, have already begun utilizing this technology. It was proposed that Val research the costs of deploying this as an enterprise solution, as well as look at the requirements for the desktop. (DOL mentioned some issues with the demo software given their limited desktops) He will also speak to the vendors to see if we would be able to get another demo with the full accessibility committee, this sub-committee and maybe appropriate technical staff from BIS. Kathy will bring information on this solution back to the committee from a national perspective. Nancy and Eric both felt that using the desktop would be much less intimidating for users answering TTY calls than the current hardware is.

Kathy brought up a question as to how we coordinate with FCC regulations and communications. Jan and Eric both were familiar with the recent issue she brought to the group and it was clear that there is communication with state and federal organizations and there is probably some overlap. No further action noted.

Eric mentioned that he is focusing on some web accessibility issues and was looking for some assistance. We will include him in the agenda for the April IT Accessibility Committee as we will be drafting the job plan for the summer intern who will be charged with this.

It was decided that the group meet again in a month and that has been scheduled for Monday, May 5 in room 302 at the Cross Office Building.

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