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Update - January 2017 On January 5th, 2017 the US Access Board announced that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) cleared the Section 508 Refresh, with the compliance deadline set for January 18, 2018.
Introduction Welcome to a series of articles on accessibility laws, standards, and statistics around the globe. These articles will help web professionals to understand accessibility legislation within a wider policy context. Every accessibility law has both strengths and weaknesses which can offer valuable lessons for other countries and systems.
This posting summarizes some detailed research into the state of government accessibility standards around the world, as of March 2016. Usually these evolve fairly slowly, although the Jodhan vs. Attorney General of Canada case may change that (governments don’t like being successfully sued by their citizens).
The Design for All Research Group at Middlesex University have produced a report called Declaring conformance on web accessibility asking the question: can website accessibility declarations be trusted?
Sadly the conclusion was no, for both self-declared and third-party certifications, confirming the findings of earlier studies. Using a sample of 100 European government and commercial sites claiming accessibility standards conformance, more than 95% were found to have accessibility issues. The study used our automated tool, SortSite, in conjunction with manual testing performed by the accessibility group at the Shaw Trust (see the report for details on methodology).
This diagram shows how web standards have developed since 1994. Originally HTML and related standards were discussed and agreed by a small group of interested parties on a mailing list. Later the W3 was formed, and it put in place increasingly rigorous processes, with increasing amounts of public consultation.
While solid process and consultation is a good thing, one striking point is how long it now takes to get W3 standards from Draft to Recommendation status.
Here's a month-by-month review of the important events of 2010 for our company and customers:
Jan - PowerMapper 5.0 Released
PowerMapper 5.0 was released to support and maintenance customers. New features included: new map styles; analytics data import; data visualization; map notes. Feb - Management Buyout
PowerMapper Software completed the acquisition of Electrum’s PowerMapper and SortSite product business as part of a management buyout (MBO). Mar - Draft of new Section 508 accessibility standards
On Dec 11th 2008 the W3C released the long awaited WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines. The first draft was published in Jan 2001, so they've been 8 years in the making. For comparison, it took NASA 8.5 years from Kennedy's 1961 speech to land a man on the moon.
On Dec 16th 2008 Electrum released SortSite 3.0, the first commercial accessibility tool to support the final W3C WCAG2 recommendation.
In addition to support for WCAG2 there's been a host of user interface improvements, including the ability to set a corporate web site quality policy and share that with co-workers.