Section 508 Comes to the University of Hawaii (HI UCEDD), College of Education

March 6, 2017

The Media Center at the Center on Disability Studies is leading the way for compliant digital content for the University of Hawaii, College of Education (COE). Recognizing compliance with federal accessibility regulations as a need, the Dean of the COE contacted the Center on Disability Studies (CDS) for their guidance and expertise. With 15+ years of experience, the CDS Media Center (www.media.cds.hawaii.edu) has created accessible websites and digital content for CDS projects and core activities. In this newly proposed endeavor, the Media Center presented a course of action that included, collaboration with the COE training team, integration of the Utah State UCD WebAim evaluation program (webaim.org), and proposition of an accessibility policy. The importance of a proactive and manageable accessibility policy included a specific timeline for compliance of both legacy and future digital content.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act was recently updated to clarify the responsibility that organizations have to ensure the accessibility of digital media:

"On January 18, 2017, the Access Board published a final rule that jointly updates requirements for information and communication technology covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Communication Act. The Section 508 Standards apply to electronic and information technology procured by the federal government, including computer hardware and software, websites, multimedia such as video, phone systems, and copiers. The Section 255 Guidelines address access to telecommunications products and services, and apply to manufacturers of telecommunication equipment." U.S. Access Board Website Statement

Through a formal announcement at the college-wide meeting, Dean Young highlighted the COE and CDS Media Center's move to provide access for all. This is a message that the new CDS Director Patricia Morrissey knows all too well. As one of the authors of the 1998 Section 508 update, Dr. Morrissey continues to advocate for the importance of Section 508. Ultimately the CDS proposed policy was approved by the Dean and adopted by the College of Education.

In addition, for 3 months the CDS Media Center led a series of trainings for faculty and staff to educate and help with the transition and adoption of the new COE Section 508 policy. The trainings were divided into three levels:

 

  1. Basic - awareness of the policy and Section 508.
  2. Intermediate - hands on workshop for making basic digital content accessible.
  3. Advanced - trainings for program specific user groups such as those using WordPress, Drupal, and Adobe Creative Suite.

 

The trainings addressed how the accessibility policy would work and why it was important for higher education institutions to have digital content available to everyone. The primary target was publically available information provided on the college website or distributed electronically. Although many of the faculty and staff do not directly create content, they do oversee others who do and represent the college when information is passed on to others for distribution.

The CDS Media Center has created a positive impact on campus by training 12 departments and 113 COE personnel to integrate the standards of Section 508.

For more information or to request a training to make your organization Section 508 compliant, contact cdsweb@hawaii.edu or visit www.media.cds.hawaii.edu/personnel.