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Minutes from the September 18, 2001 meeting
Ten people attended

The goal of today's meeting was to present the draft Web accessibility policy made by Marge Pecht to the group for comments. Because so few people were available to come, no decisions on the policy will be made until the next meeting.

A copy of the draft Web Accessibility Policy will be available on the Web site.

Marge read through the draft policy, which was mostly taken from the group's discussions at previous meetings. The policy is divided into seven sections: purpose, scope, definitions, policy, roles and responsibilities, compliance, and resources.

The purpose is taken from the group's mission statement. It was suggested the purpose also include the business side of the state, not just the Web developers.

The group was undecided on the exact wording of the scope and how large it should be. Some terms, like "independent state agencies," needed to be defined. The group was unsure about some of the wording in the scope of the policy. For example, currently the policy applies to "all Web sites and services." It was suggested that "services" be taken out because the meaning is too broad. The group agreed it would be best to keep the scope narrow because it would be easiest to meet. It would also make the policy easier to approve.

The policy includes an introduction explaining why accessibility needs to be addressed. It explains that the wording of Section 504 implies federally funded programs will need to meet the requirements of Section 508. The group agreed this was important and should stay in the policy.

Most statements in the policy section were taken from the Connecticut policy. Marge was not sure if the wording she used to indicate compliance ("strive," "strongly encouraged") was too strong or too weak.

The group agreed the 508 guidelines should be the minimum standard for accessibility because it ensures compliance with Federal guidelines and because Web design tools are 508 compliant. The Web sites, though, should strive to be W3C compliant. If the sites meet 508 guidelines they will also meet all major points of the W3C.

It was also suggested that there be a way to recognize Web sites that meet accessibility guidelines.

Jim Powers felt the group should begin to focus on educating agencies on accessibility. He said it's not hard to make a Web page accessible, but Web developers need to know the proper way to do it.

Marge used Connecticut as a model for education. The Connecticut accessibility work group put together four seminars and went to the agencies to develop programs for who needed to be trained. The large agencies found it easiest to comply because they had the resources. Smaller agencies are still working towards compliance.

The group decided it wants to hold a seminar to educate agencies and departments on the accessibility policy. It wants to bring in outside experts to speak and to demonstrate some of the tools people with disabilities use to access pages, like JAWS.

It was suggested that the seminar be divided into sections to cater to different audiences. For example, the morning might be an overview of accessibility for managers and the afternoon would go into technical details for Web developers.

Two more trips to the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired in New Brunswick will be held in October. More information will be available through the listserver.

To be addressed at the next meeting:

  • Review the draft policy and make changes
  • Form a subgroup to plan the seminar
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