ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments
This checklist is designed for use in conducting a preliminary assessment of the accessibility of your agency’s website. The goal is to review your website and your agency’s website policies and procedures and see if there are red flags alerting you to ADA accessibility concerns.
MATERIALS AND INFORMATION NEEDED:
To assess the accessibility of your website you will need:
If already created, a copy of your Website Accessibility Policy.
Information describing specific actions taken to make your existing website accessible to people with disabilities.
Information about website accessibility training taken by staff and/or contractors responsible for developing and posting webpages and content.
Information about any procedures used to obtain input from people with disabilities regarding the accessibility of your website.
Any input provided by people with disabilities about their experiences accessing your website.
The assistance of your website manager.
Assessing Current Webpages and Content on Your Website
This section will help you determine if your website has some of the most common accessibility problems. It will not identify all website accessibility problems.
1. Does the top of each page with navigation links have a “skip navigation” link? (This feature directs screen readers to bypass the row of navigation links and start at the webpage content, thus enabling people who use screen readers to avoid having to listen to all the links each time they move to a new page.)
2. Do all links have a text description that can be read by a screen reader (not just a graphic or “click here”)?
3. Do all of the photographs, maps, graphics and other images on the website currently have HTML tags (such as an “alt” tag or a long description tag) with text equivalents of the material being visually conveyed?
4. Are all of the documents posted on your website available in HTML or another text-based format (for example, rich text format (RTF) or word processing format), even if you are also providing them in another format, such as Portable Document Format (PDF)?
5. If your website has online forms, do HTML tags describe all of the controls (including all text fields, check boxes, drop-down lists, and buttons) that people can use in order to complete and submit the forms?
6. If your website has online forms, does the default setting in drop-down lists describe the information being requested instead of displaying a response option (e.g., “your age” instead of “18 - 21”)?
7. If a webpage has data charts or tables, is HTML used to associate all data cells with column and row identifiers?
8. Do all video files on your website have audio descriptions of what is being displayed to provide access to visually conveyed information for people who are blind or have low vision?
9. Do all video files on your website have written captions of spoken communication synchronized with the action to provide access to people who are deaf or hard of hearing?
10. Do all audio files on your website have written captions of spoken communication synchronized with the action to provide access to people who are deaf or hard of hearing?
11. Have all webpages been designed so they can be viewed using visitors’ web browser and operating system settings for color and font?
Website Accessibility Policy And Procedures
This section will help you identify potential problems with the ongoing process of ensuring website accessibility
12. Do you have a written policy on website accessibility?
13. Is the website accessibility policy posted on your website in a place where it can be easily located?
14. Have procedures been developed to ensure that content is not added to your website until it has been made accessible?
15. Does the website manager check the HTML of all new webpages to confirm accessibility before the pages are posted?
16. When documents are added to your website in PDF format, are text-based versions of the documents (e.g., HTML, RTF, or word processing format) added at the same time as the PDF versions?
17. Have in-house staff and contractors received information about the website accessibility policy and procedures to ensure website accessibility?
18. Have in-house and contractor staff received appropriate training on how to ensure the accessibility of your website?
19. Have in-house and contractor staff who create web content or post it on your website received copies of the Department of Justice’s technical assistance document “Accessibility of State and Local Government Websites to People with Disabilities”?
20. If your website contains inaccessible content, is a specific written plan including timeframes in place now to make all of your existing web content accessible?
21. Have you posted on your website a plan to improve website accessibility and invited suggestions for improvements?
22. Does your website home page include easily locatable information, including a telephone number and email address, for use in reporting website accessibility problems and requesting accessible services and information?
23. Do you have procedures in place to assure a quick response to website visitors with disabilities who are having difficulty accessing information or services available via the website?
24. Have you asked disability groups representing people with a wide variety of disabilities to provide feedback on the accessibility of your website? (Note: Feedback from people who use a variety of assistive technologies is helpful in ensuring website accessibility.)
25. Have you tested your website using one of the products available on the Internet to test website accessibility? (Note: Products available for testing website accessibility include no-cost and low-cost options. These products may not identify all accessibility issues and may flag issues that are not accessibility problems. However, they are, nonetheless, a helpful tool in improving website accessibility.)
26. Are alternative ways of accessing web-based information, programs, activities, and services available for people with disabilities who cannot use computers?
If the answer to any of the above questions is “No,” there may be accessibility problems with your website. Here are some steps to take to ensure that your website – and the programs and services offered on it – are accessible to people with disabilities.
Establish a policy that your webpages will be accessible and create a process for implementation.
Check the HTML of all new webpages. Make sure that accessible elements are used, including “alt” tags, long descriptions, and captions, as needed.
Ensure that your webpages are designed in a manner that allows them to be displayed using a visitor’s own settings for color and fonts.
If images are used, including photos, graphics, scanned images, or image maps, make sure to include text equivalents for them, using “alt” tags and/or long descriptions for each. Ensure that the text equivalents convey the meaningful information presented visually by the image.
If you use online forms and tables, make those elements accessible.
Ensure that videos appearing on your website include appropriately synchronized audio description and captions.
When posting new documents on the website, always provide them in HTML or another text-based format (even if you are also providing them in another format, such as PDF). If documents are provided in both formats, provide both formats at the same time so people with disabilities have the same degree of access as others.
Develop a plan for making your existing web content accessible, including specific steps and timeframes. Describe your plan on an accessible webpage that can be easily located from your home page. Encourage input on accessibility improvements, including which pages should be given high priority for change. Let citizens know about the standards or guidelines that are being used to provide accessibility. Make accessibility modifications to the more popular webpages on your website a priority.
Ensure that in-house staff and contractors responsible for webpages and webpage content development are properly trained on your web accessibility policy and procedures.
Provide a way for visitors to request accessible information or services and provide feedback about accessibility problems by posting a telephone number and email address on your home page. Establish procedures to assure a quick response to people with disabilities who use this contact information to access web-based information or services.
Periodically enlist people with a variety of disabilities to test your webpages for accessibility and ease of use; use this information to increase your website accessibility.
Consider using one of the no-cost or low-cost resources available on the Internet to test the accessibility of your website. (Please note, however, that these products may not identify all accessibility problems on your website.)
Ensure that alternative means are available for people with disabilities who are unable to use computers to access information, programs, and services that are normally provided on your website.
Recently the New York State attorney general’s office ran tests on popular store brands of herbal supplements at the retailers — Walmart, Walgreens, Target and GNC — which showed that roughly four out of five of the products contained none of the herbs listed on their labels. In many cases, the authorities said, the supplements contained little more than cheap fillers like rice and house plants, or substances that could be hazardous to people with food allergies.
This all goes back to something that we all lived through. And that is that we saw the collapse of the socialist world, the emergence of these very very large countries, with tons of people. China, India, all of Eastern Europe, and you can even count Brazil.
So you’re talking about 3.5 billion people.
If you put this in perspective, the so-called “developed” world — Japan, U.S., Canada, Western Europe — is 0.8 billion people.
Mr. Alpert goes on to say:
"So we have 3.5 billion people who show up and decide one day they want to eat our lunch and play by our rules. Of course part of that is that they’re willing to work very cheaply. Obviously they have far lower standards of living and far lower costs of living.
It’s a giant global labor glut. And the glut is one of these once-in-the-history-of-mankind kind of things.
So that creates this massive instability it created, in my argument, the bubble itself, because we saw something we’ve never seen in the history of mankind which is what economist call reverse capital flows, where we see money coming from poor countries to rich countries where the Chinese buy our bonds and other countries buy our bonds.
And we’ve never seen that in the history of the world before either.
And so what creates is an environment where you have enormous amounts of capital trying to find their way into sovereign debt of developed countries, interest rates of course then decline because you have an overabundance of demand for bonds, you have an excess supply of labor relative to total demand because as you know the Chinese and Indians while they’re producing they’re not consuming, at least what they should be in order to create equilibrium.
And then you have the issue of way too much stuff being made. We can see that now as we saw infrastructure and other investment being made in China and other countries has now outstripped rational demand for the product that they make. The steel industry, for example, you saw an environment in which people were building steel plants in anticipation of not only infrastructure demand in China but also large demand growth globally. Of course that demand growth was driven by a massive amount of debt that was being created. When you took away all that debt, you took away the demand."
I revisited the book The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, by Al Ries and Jack Trout (1994).
Below is a brief summary of the second 11 (the first 11 Laws were listed in a previous post).
Law 12 (The Law of Line Extension)
There’s and irresistible pressure to extend the equity of a brand.
One day a company is tightly focused on a single product that is highly profitable. The next day the same company is spread thin over many products and is losing money.
Less is more. If you want to be successful today, you have to narrow the focus in order to build a position in the prospect’s mind.
Law 13 (The Law of Sacrifice)
You have to give up something in order to get something.
There are three things to sacrifice: product line, target market, and constant change.
Less is more. If you want to be successful today, you have to narrow the focus in order to build a position in the prospect’s mind.
Law 14 (The Law of Attributes)
For every attribute, there is an opposite, effective attribute.
You can’t own the same word or position that your competitor owns. You must find your own word to own. You must seek out another attribute.
Too often a company attempts to emulate the leader.
It’s much better to search for an opposite attribute that will allow you to play off against the leader. The key word here is opposite — similar won’t do.
Law 15 (The Law of Candor)
When you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive.
First and foremost, candor is very disarming. Every negative statement you make about yourself is instantly accepted as truth. Positive statements, on the other hand, are looked at as dubious at best. Especially in an advertisement.
Next, you have to shift quickly to the positive. The purpose of candor isn’t to apologize. The purpose of candor is to set up a benefit that will convince your prospect.
Ex: "Avis is No. 2 in rent-a-cars." So why go with them? They must try harder.
Law 16 (The Law of Singularity)
In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results.
History teaches that the only thing that works in marketing is the single, bold stroke.
Finding one is difficult. Finding more than one is usually impossible.
Most often there is only one place where a competitor is vulnerable. Use the focus of their marketing against them.
Law 17 (The Law of Unpredictability)
Unless you write your competitors’ plans, you can’t predict the future.
No one can predict the future with any degree of certainty. Nor should marketing plans try to.
Good short-term planning is coming up with that angle or word that differentiates your product or company. Then you set up a coherent long-term marketing direction that builds a program to maximize that idea or angle. It’s not a long-term plan, it’s a long-term direction.
Law 18 (The Law of Success)
Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance to failure.
Brilliant marketers have the ability to think like a prospect thinks. They put themselves in the shoes of their customers. They don’t impose their own view of the world on the situation.
The larger company gives up some of its advantage if it cannot keep itself focused on the marketing battle that takes place in the mind of the customer.
Law 19 (The Law of Failure)
Failure is to be expected and accepted.
Admitting a mistake and not doing anything about it is bad for your career. A better strategy is to recognize failure early and cut your losses.
Be free of an insidious disease called the “personal agenda” that can creep into any corporation.
Law 20 (The Law of Hype)
The situation is often the opposite of the way it appears in the press.
The only revolutions you can predict are the ones that have already started.
Real revolutions don’t arrive at high noon with marching bands and coverage on the 6:00 P.M. news. Real revolutions arrive unannounced in the middle of the night and kind of sneak up on you.
Law 21 (The Law of Acceleration)
Successful programs are not built on fads, they’re built on trends.
A fad is a short-term phenomenon that might be profitable, but a fad doesn’t last long enough to do a company much good. Furthermore, a company often tends to gear up as if a fad were a trend. As a result, the company is often stuck with a lot of staff, expensive manufacturing facilities, and distribution networks.
Don't overextend. Don't be all over the place. Don't wear out your welcome.
Law 22 (The Law of Resources)
Without adequate funding an idea won’t get off the ground.
Even the best idea in the world won’t go very far without the money to get it off the ground.
Marketing is a game fought in the mind of the prospect. You need money to get into a mind. And you need money to stay in the mind once you get there.
You’ll get further with a mediocre idea and a million dollars than with a great idea alone.
The law of leadership is tough for many to swallow. Most people want to believe they got to the top by being better, not by being first.
The law of line extension is the most dangerous law of all to deal with. In this case, you have to be prepared to demolish what management holds to be a basic truth: Big successful brands have an equity that can be exploited to encompass different kinds of products.
Line extension makes eminent sense in the boardroom. You won’t find one director in a dozen who would be willing to challenge management on this critical issue.
So beware! Management will not take kindly to any efforts to curtail their equity expansions. You may just have to wait them out. Management is mutable, but the laws of marketing are not.
Thus are you duly warned. If you violate the immutable laws, you run the risk of failure. If you apply the immutable laws, you run the risk of being bad-mouthed, ignored, or even ostracized.
Have patience. The immutable laws of marketing will help you achieve success.
I revisited the book The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, by Al Ries and Jack Trout (1994).
Below is a brief summary of the first 11 (I'll post the second 11 soon!)
Law 1 (The Law of Leadership)
It's better to be first than it is to be better.
The basic issue in marketing is creating a category you can be first in. It’s the law of leadership: It’s better to be first than it is to be better.
It’s much easier to get into the mind first than to try to convince someone you have a better product than the one that did get there first.
Law 2 (The Law of the Category)
If you can't be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.
Everyone talks about why their brand is better. But prospects have an open mind when it comes to categories. Everyone is interested in what’s new. When you’re the first in a new category, promote the category.
Law 3 (The Law of the Mind)
It’s better to be first in the mind than it is to be first in the marketplace.
It’s better to be first in the prospect’s mind than first in the marketplace. Which, if anything, understates the importance of being first in the mind. Being first in the mind is everything in marketing. Being first in the marketplace is important only to the extent that it allows you to get in the mind first.
The law of the mind follows from the law of perception. If marketing is a battle of perception, not product, then the mind takes precedence over the marketplace.
Law 4 (The Law of Perception)
Marketing is a battle of perception, not product.
There are no best products. All that exists in the world of marketing are perceptions in the minds of the customer or prospect.
The perception is the reality. Everything else is an illusion.
Law 5 (The Law of Focus)
The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect’s mind.
A company can become incredibly successful if it can find a way to own a word in the mind of the prospect. Not a complicated word. Not an invented one. The simple words are best, words taken right out of the dictionary.
This is the law of focus. You “burn” your way into the mind by narrowing the focus to a single word or concept. It’s the ultimate marketing sacrifice.
Federal Express was able to put the word overnight into the minds of its prospects because it sacrificed its product line and focused on overnight package delivery only.
Law 6 (The Law of Exclusivity)
Two companies cannot own the same word in the prospect’s mind.
When a competitor owns a word or position in the prospect’s mind, it is futile to attempt to own the same word.
As we mentioned earlier, Volvo owns safety. Many other automobile companies, including MercedesBenz and General Motors, have tried to run marketing campaigns based on safety. Yet no one except Volvo has succeeded in getting into the prospect’s mind with a safety message.
Law 7 (The Law of the Ladder)
The strategy to use depends on which rung you occupy on the ladder.
In general, a mind accepts only new data that is consistent with its product ladder in that category. Everything else is ignored.
If you're not number 1, admit to being lower on the ladder and explain why someone should instead work with you.
Law 8 (The Law of Duality)
In the long run, every market becomes a two-horse race.
Early on, a new category is a ladder of many rungs. Gradually, the ladder becomes a two-rung affair.
When you take the long view of marketing, you find the battle usually winds up as a titanic struggle between two major players—usually the old reliable brand and the upstart.
As time goes on, however, these customers get educated. They want the leading brand, based on the naive assumption that the leading brand must be better.
We repeat: The customer believes that marketing is a battle of products. It’s this kind of thinking that keeps the two brands on top: “They must be the best, they’re the leaders.”
Law 9 (The Law of the Opposite)
If you’re shooting for second place, your strategy is determined by the leader.
Much like a wrestler uses his opponent’s strength against him, a company should leverage the leader’s strength into a weakness.
If you want to establish a firm foothold on the second rung of the ladder, study the firm above you. Where is it strong? And how do you turn that strength into a weakness?
Law 10 (The Law of Division)
Over time, a category will divide and become two or more categories.
A category starts off as a single entity. Computers, for example. But over time, the category breaks up into other segments. Mainframes, minicomputers, workstations, personal computers, laptops, notebooks, pen computers.
Law 11 (The Law of Perspective)
Marketing effects take place over an extended period of time.
Many marketing moves exhibit the same phenomenon. The long-term effects are often the exact opposite of the short-term effects.
The chart shows the price of energy sources since the late 1940s. The extreme outlier, of course, is solar, which only recently became an expensive blip in the energy marketplace. It will soon undercut even the cheapest fossil fuels in many regions of the planet, including poorer nations where billion-dollar coal plants aren’t always practical.
The CSS3 Flexible Box, or flexbox, is a layout mode providing for the arrangement of elements on a page such that the elements behave predictably when the page layout must accommodate different screen sizes and different display devices.
For many applications, the flexible box model provides an improvement over the block model in that it does not use floats, nor do the flex container's margins collapse with the margins of its contents.
Many designers will find the flexbox model easier to use. Child elements in a flexbox can be laid out in any direction and can have flexible dimensions to adapt to the display space. Positioning child elements is thus much easier, and complex layouts can be achieved more simply and with cleaner code, as the display order of the elements is independent of their order in the source code.
This independence intentionally affects only the visual rendering, leaving speech order and navigation based on the source order.
Bill Murray Day @ TIFF: Bill Shares Personal Philosophy & his Cab Driver Story (Sep. 5, 2014)
"You have to remind yourself that you can do the very best you can when you're very, very relaxed, no matter what it is, whatever your job is. The more relaxed you are, the better you are. That's sort of why I got into acting. I realized the more fun I had, the better I did. I thought, well, that's a job I could be proud of."
It's now 28 days after the so-called #Drupageddon and up to 57.5% of the top 10,000 Drupal websites still have not applied the patch.
"The key point in this experiment is that systems that are not regularly maintained and updated when patches become available will be a liability for your organization. Ensure you have a process in place for updating all your software including web applications and add-ons."
I think it's worth noting that Acquia and Pantheon (Drupal hosting companies) both applied the patch before the Drupal PSA announcement. I love Pantheon. This is yet another reason why.
"And the truth of it, is that both are correct. From a security standpoint, using a CMS/Framework is both a risk, and a benefit. Like everything when it comes to security, it's a tradeoff. Does that mean you should avoid CMS's and Frameworks? No. What it means is that you need to think and plan on how to mitigate risks.
You're never safe. If you're running a system, it's either been compromised, or will be. The key is how you deal with it."
"Imagine yourself in 50 years. You’re in your early 70s, near the end of your career. You’re sitting on your couch, having just watched the State of the Union holographic address by President Kardashian.
You begin to ponder your life. The career successes, how you’ve been able to provide for your family. You’ll think of all the great moments with your family and friends. But then you start to think about all of the things you wished you had done just a little differently, your regrets. I can guess at what they might be.
Sitting in 2064, you wish that you had spent more time with your children. That you had told your spouse how much you loved them more frequently. That you could have even one more chance to hug your parents and tell them how much you appreciate them before they passed. That you could have smiled more, laughed more, danced more and created more. That you better used the gifts you were given to empower others and make the world better.
Just as you’re thinking this, a genie appears from nowhere and says, “I have been eavesdropping on your regrets. They are valid ones. I can tell you are a good person so I am willing to give you a second chance if you really want one.” You say “Sure” and the genie snaps his fingers.
All of a sudden you find yourself right where you are sitting today.You are in your shockingly fit and pain-free 20-something body and begin to realize that it has really happened. You really do have the chance to do it over again. To have the same career successes and deep relationships. But, now you can optimize. You can laugh more, dance more and love more. Your parents are here again so it is your chance to love them like you wished you had done the first time. You can be the source of positivity that you wished you had been the first time around."
- Sal Khan in an amazing and inspirational thought experiment in MIT's Commencement address to the class of 2012
I recently read venture capitalist Peter Thiel's new book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. I enjoyed the book. I took lots of notes and shared with my colleague. There was one paragraph, however, that made me chuckle.
WHAT'S UNDER SILICON VALLEY'S HOODIES
From the outside, everyone in your company should be different in the same way.
Unlike people from the East Coast, who all wear the same skinny jeans or pinstripe suits depending on their industry, young people in Mountain View and Palo Alto go to work wearing T-shirts. It's a cliché that tech workers don't care about what they wear, but if you look closely at those T-shirts, you'll see the logos of the wearers' companies – and tech workers care about those very much. What makes a startup employee instantly distinguishable to outsiders is the branded T-shirt or hoodie that makes him look the same as his co-workers. The startup uniform encapsulates a simple but essential principle: everyone at your company should be different in the same way – a tribe of like-minded people fiercely devoted to the company's mission.
I can't say I agree with that statement, and I think it's one of the big differences between NYC and California. (I grew up in CA and I have now lived in NYC for 6 years). I really enjoy the diversity of NYC. I think it's great that people have style in NYC. That people try in NYC. I was just in San Francisco this past weekend and the stark lack of style was immediately apparent to me.
Today I came across this article on LinkedIn and I agree with it in many ways, and I've seen it in action in more than just the workplace. I've seen it especially in social environments. There's an old saying "the clothes make the man". So true.
It is a game, and the game is all part of life. We all judge each other based on visual cues.
A few key takeaways from the article:
"Look around," he said. "How do supervisors dress? How does their hair look? How do they act? No one will think of you as supervisor material until they can actually see you as a supervisor -- and right now you look nothing like a supervisor."
"In a perfect world your performance is all that would matter," he said. "But we don't live in a perfect world. Take my advice: if you want to be promoted into a certain position... make sure you look like the people in that position."
May: 2014, Norman Seeff discusses his emotional, and singular approach to creative work.
From Tina Turner to Steve Jobs, from Steve Martin to Joni Mitchell, from Michael Tilson-Thomas to Michael Jackson, from Dr. John to Dr. Phil, from Chicago to the Rolling Stones, from Arthur Ash to Frank Zappa, no single individual has photographed, interviewed and filmed more creative icons from every imaginable field than Norman Seeff.
Norman Seeff, a native South African who moved to the United States in 1969, is a physician turned internationally acclaimed photographer and filmmaker. Seeff ’s talk, Finding You Voice, Living Your Dream, will be followed by a screening of his documentary, The Triumph of the Dream.
He has been documenting the inner dynamics and outer ex- pressions of the creative process with hundreds of artists and innovators for close to four decades. As a result, he has identified a seven-stage archetypal map of how the creative process unfolded that appeared relevant to all creative endeavors across multiple disciplines.
The film is the result of the time Seeff spent working with a team of NASA scientists and engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California as they prepared to land the two rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, on Mars. It reveals the power of imagination and the drive to dream and vision the future, as the ultimate source of all creation. In this session, we will screen the film and Seeff will facilitate an audience dialog around the practical elements of his seven-stage creative dynamic in action.
Our cloud data is stored for eternity, not the moment. Legislation and company policy cannot guarantee backups are destroyed. Our government may change, and what qualifies as a "lawful" warrant tomorrow might be illegal today. Similarly, your eternal data might be legal today and a threat tomorrow.
What you consider cool today might be an embarrassment or personal risk tomorrow. A photo you can rip to pieces, a letter you can shred, a diary you can burn, an old flag you can take out into the woods with your friends and shoot with a bb-gun till it's destroyed and then have a nice, cold beer to celebrate. Cheers to that.
But memories in the cloud are there forever. You will never be able to destroy them. That data is backed-up, distributed, redundant, and permanent. I can tell you first-hand: do not assume that when you click "delete" a file is gone. Take Mary Winstead’s word for it. Bugs and tape backups often keep things around, regardless of the law or programmer effort. This is one of the single hairiest technical problems of today.
Instead, how can you burn that digital love letter, or tear up that digital picture? The only answer is to start with it encrypted, and then throw away the only key.
You need the legal right to use software that makes you the sole owner of that key.