[Athen] WCAG 2.0 vs Desktop Software

Bourne, Sarah (MASSIT) sarah.bourne at mass.gov
Wed Mar 29 10:55:19 PDT 2017


The new Section 508 actually gives some guidance on this, in the Standards and Guidelines, section E207 Software. That was based in large part by the work done by the W3C, published as a Working Group Note, “Guidance on Applying WCAG 2.0 to Non-Web Information and Communications Technologies (WCAG2ICT)<https://www.w3.org/TR/wcag2ict/>”.

Sarah E. Bourne
Director of IT Accessibility, MassIT
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
1 Ashburton Pl. rm 811 Boston MA 02108
sarah.bourne at mass.gov<mailto:sarah.bourne at mass.gov>

From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Zirkle, Kara
Sent: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 8:59 AM
To: athen-list at u.washington.edu
Subject: [Athen] WCAG 2.0 vs Desktop Software

Hello all,

Working with vendors in the procurement phase and referencing WCAG 2.0 level AA compliance I'm beginning to see some push back for desktop software. What do you consider an "acceptable" accessibility response and documentation from a vendor in this case?

PS, please keep in mind the original VPAT I received was from 2014 and I've asked for an updated version, notified the vendor of the updated standards and used most of this email along with a manual accessibility report shared with the vendor requesting a timeline for changes. The vendor is just hesitant to provide much of anything aside from an old VPAT. This is a common program used in higher education and is installed in most any of our computer labs. So to pull it and/or find an alternative is almost impossible. We have our internal processes that I know what I need to do to complete the project and close it, but wanted to give it as an example to get other peoples thoughts on the accessibility standards and conversation with vendors around desktop software. It seems as if keeping it as a desktop rather than moving it to a cloud allows them to have a loop hole of less accessibility standards to meet with the current way things are written.

Since the new Section 508 standard is now in effect and reflects similar to WCAG 2.0 we still use this as best practice. While I understand software is different from web-based applications and websites, many of the UI areas of WCAG 2.0 still apply as best practice design.

With that said the new 508 standards are in effect, state the following specific to software:


The existing standards require ICT to be compatible with assistive technology—that is, hardware or software that increases or maintains functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities (e.g., screen magnifiers or refreshable braille displays). However, in the past the existing requirement resulted in ambiguity of application. For example, some agencies interpreted the provisions of existing 36 CFR 1194.21<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.federalregister.gov_select-2Dcitation_2017_01_18_36-2DCFR-2D1194.21&d=DwMFaQ&c=lDF7oMaPKXpkYvev9V-fVahWL0QWnGCCAfCDz1Bns_w&r=rhLenV33VPpmkT7iP0-OkUlRYw9YWn3HMLHZVP2q9y8&m=puvCBfHBcmk6oOHrWyFrC4HtdT6FxAe1Yam8tVDoGEk&s=FenAb2iv4ZacZFn3uLzrZf-9KZQdmf-UvfghHf2tgSQ&e=> (which addresses software applications and operating systems) as applicable to assistive technology itself. The ensuing confusion led, in some cases, to unnecessary delay in procurements intended to provide reasonable accommodations to employees under Section 501, creating a hardship for both agencies and their employees with disabilities. The final rule provides more specificity about how operating systems, software development toolkits, and software applications should interact with assistive technology. The final rule also specifically exempts assistive technology from the interoperability provisions. The Board expects the final rule to improve software interoperability with assistive technology, allowing users better access to the functionalities that ICT products provide.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/01/18/2017-00395/information-and-communication-technology-ict-standards-and-guidelines<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.federalregister.gov_documents_2017_01_18_2017-2D00395_information-2Dand-2Dcommunication-2Dtechnology-2Dict-2Dstandards-2Dand-2Dguidelines&d=DwMFaQ&c=lDF7oMaPKXpkYvev9V-fVahWL0QWnGCCAfCDz1Bns_w&r=rhLenV33VPpmkT7iP0-OkUlRYw9YWn3HMLHZVP2q9y8&m=puvCBfHBcmk6oOHrWyFrC4HtdT6FxAe1Yam8tVDoGEk&s=PF7VXOHXvI6tOHqRjYBOebHzJXKXIbQ-orIrxvxa5qk&e=>[Image removed by sender.]

I'd love to get other folks thoughts on the accessibility standard for desktop software.

Kara Zirkle
Accessible Technology Specialist
Information Technology Services
Hoyt Hall, 312V
Oxford, OH 45056
Phone: 513-529-9006
Email: zirklek at miamioh.edu<mailto:zirklek at miamioh.edu>
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