General Information and Requirements for Accessibility

  1. What does accessibility mean to information technology (IT) providers?
  2. What is Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act?
  3. What are Title 1 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Subchapters §206B and §213A?
  4. What are the general exceptions for Title 1 TAC Subchapters §206B and §213A?
  5. What is Web accessibility?
  6. Why do we need Web accessibility?
  7. What are common barriers to information on Web pages?
  8. Why is Web accessibility important?
  9. How does Web accessibility go beyond disability?
  10. How do people who are blind use the Web?

  1. What does accessibility mean to information technology (IT) providers?
  2. IT hardware, software, and services that are accessible can be used by more people, either directly or in combination with assistive technology products. These products use technologies such as voice recognition, wireless communications, and speech output to improve access to IT for people who have disabilities. These technologies are also increasingly in demand by others in today's society seeking convenience and ease of use. Accessible Web pages can be used in a variety of ways and do not depend on a single sense or ability. The accessibility of IT is essential because it enables people with disabilities to use IT to improve their daily lives-both at home and at work.

  3. What is Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act?
  4. Section 508 refers to a statutory section in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (found at 29 U.S.C. 794d). Section 508 requires federal agencies to ensure that their procurement of electronic and information technology (EIR) takes into account the needs of all end users-including people with disabilities. The Section 508 Standards are the basis for the Texas Web Accessibility Standards and other accessibility requirements found in Title 1 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Subchapters 206B and 213A.

  5. What are Title 1 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Subchapters 206B and 213A?
  6. The regulations in Title 1 TAC Subchapters 206B and 213A require that all people have an equal right to access information on state programs and services and to fully participate in the economic and social life of Texas regardless of their physical status, cognitive ability, or technology. All Texas state agencies and state-funded institutions of higher education (including departments, commissions, boards, offices, councils, authorities, state-funded colleges and universities, and other agencies of all three branches of state government) must comply.

    Subchapter 206B aligns Texas accessibility standards for electronic information resources and state Web sites with federal Section 508 standards. Requirements in these regulations are intended to ensure accessibility for both state employees and members of the public.

    Subchapter 213A clarifies what the regulations apply to, such as software applications, telephones and other telecommunications products, information kiosks, transaction machines, Internet Web sites, multimedia resources, and office equipment, including copy machines and fax machines.

    Although the regulations do not require state agencies to replace their existing hardware or legacy applications, they do make accessibility part of the procurement process for all new service and technology contracts on or after September 1, 2006.

  7. What are the general exceptions to Title 1 TAC Subchapters 206B and 213A?
  8. Title 1 TAC Subchapters 206B and 213A do not require the installation of specific accessibility-related software or the attachment of an assistive technology device at a workstation of a state employee who is not an individual with a disability.

    Exceptions include the areas of department-owned products, fundamental alterations, building maintenance, and monitoring equipment.

  9. What is Web accessibility?
  10. Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web.

    Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities. Web accessibility also benefits others, including older people with changing abilities caused by aging.

  11. Why do we need Web accessibility?
  12. We need Web accessibility for several reasons:

    • Access to information and learning is essential to a free society, and we have a moral responsibility to ensure that people's ability to participate in the information age is not limited by a disability.
    • State agencies are required by House Bill 2819 (79th Reg. Session) to make their Web pages and electronic information technology accessible to ensure equal access to state programs and services for all Texans.
    • Making the Web accessible allows people with disabilities to equally participate in the economic and social life of Texas.
    • We are economically interdependent, and increasing participation in the economy is good for everyone.
  13. What are common barriers to information on Web pages?
  14. Many Web pages present barriers to people with physical, visual, hearing, and cognitive and/or neurological disabilities. Common accessibility problems on Web sites include

    • images without alternative text descriptions,
    • lack of alternative text for image-map hot spots,
    • misleading use of structural elements on pages,
    • uncaptioned audio or undescribed video,
    • lack of alternative information for users who cannot access frames or scripts,
    • tables that are difficult to decipher when linearized, and
    • sites with poor color contrast.
  15. Why is Web accessibility important?
  16. The Web is an increasingly important resource in many aspects of life: education, employment, government, commerce, health care, recreation, and more. It is essential that the Web provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with disabilities. An accessible Web can help people with disabilities more actively participate in society.

    The Web offers the possibility of unprecedented access to information and interaction for many people with disabilities. In other words, the accessibility barriers to print, audio, and visual media can be much more easily overcome through Web technologies.

  17. How does Web accessibility go beyond disability?
  18. While the main focus of Web accessibility is on people with disabilities, accessibility also benefits people without disabilities:

    • older people
    • people with low literacy
    • people with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).
    • people with low bandwidth connections to the Internet and older technologies
    • new and infrequent Web users
  19. How do people who are blind use the Web?
  20. People who are blind use screen-reader software that reads the pages aloud. The software reads the page in a linear fashion from left to right and top to bottom. Screen readers announce structure by using phrases such as "this page has seventeen links," "visited link," and "heading level one." Screen readers therefore deliver a stream of spoken text that combines content and functional information. Screen readers are also used by some people who have low vision and by people with learning disabilities.

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Page Reviewed/Updated: 3/22/2012