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Summary Minutes of
Accessibility Working Group
Preliminary Meeting, June 28, 2001

Present: Jim Powers, Margery Miller, Margaret Pecht, Jane Coult, Mary Bonard, Hanna Fox

Jim Powers called together a small group of OIT and Department Representatives to discuss the formation of an Accessibility Working Group that will be responsible for writing up the purpose, organization and methodology of the Group. Subsequently, the Group will develop draft standards for accessibility on all state Web sites. OIT is pulling together a Web Publishing Standards and Guidelines. Accessibility will be part of it and will also have a separate section for reference.

The accessibility initiative, which is broad based, originated with the CIO. The Working Group needs to have representatives from a number of state departments and agencies. Several have already expressed interest, including the Commission for the Blind.

The need to have broad participation and commitment to Accessibility was discussed. The group agreed that our overall purpose statewide is to make the state's Web site as accessible as possible. There are three levels of accessibility based on W3.org checklists: 1 (must), 2 (should), 3 (may). We will be looking at tools, methods, and processes needed to achieve that purpose. There needs to be an analysis of how accessible our existing site is, what level of accessibility is feasible, and what we need to do to get there. The state's home page and those pages immediately dependent from it (excluding department or agency pages) will serve as a test bed. In order to meet these objectives, it will be necessary to share the issues, problems, and successes with the agencies. The process could include training as well. Progress in providing accessibility will likely be incremental due to the scope of the work to be done.

The minutes of this meeting will be disseminated to the Web Publishing Working Group and Web Content Management Working Group as well as to the ITL and ITC.

The group will meet once a month. Jim Powers will act as Head; Margaret Pecht will help facilitate the group and do the Agenda and send out announcements of meetings.

Section 508 of the recently enacted federal law deals with accessibility and requires federal government Web sites' compliance this month. Feds are not holding states to comply with Section 508 immediately, and states aren't mandated to procure accessibility tools as are federal Web sites. However, we expect that the Feds will at some point require states to comply with Section 508 in order to receive federal money.

The Working Group should come up with a plan of action. It will need to discuss and determine how to implement accessibility. Some possibilities are as policy or as an Executive Order from the Governor to Commissioners.

Jim distributed the W3C Guidelines Accessibility Checklist and suggested the Working Group look over Priority 1 items and be prepared to discuss their applicability to New Jersey at the next meeting. Also, at that meeting, we will try to finalize the goals and mission statement.

Meetings will be held on the 3rd Thursday of each month, the next one set for July 19th, location to be determined.

 

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