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Accessibility

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      The Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) strives to make sure that all of the content posted on its web site is fully accessible to persons with disabilities.  IDB follows the State of Iowa Website Accessibility standard.  If you are having difficulty accessing a page or document posted on the IDB website, please send an email to: information@blind.state.ia.us or call (515) 281-1333. 

      Accessibility Information and Resources

      IDB is frequently asked questions about Section 508 Compliance and Accessibility.  Below are some helpful resources to learn more about these topics. Check back to this page frequently as new resources are added on an on-going basis.

      What is Section 508?

      In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, open new opportunities for people with disabilities, and encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. ‘794 d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to access available to others.

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      Why is accessibility important?

      • It's the right thing to do

      Accessibility is an important step toward independence for individuals with disabilities. Accessible web content provides access to fundamental information and services. which allows users with disabilities to participate in day-to-day activities many of us take for granted, such as reading a newspaper or buying a gift for a loved one.

      • Accessibility is the law for many institutions

      With new national requirements in the United States, Canada, and the European Union, and more to come in the near future, there are numerous legal mandates for accessibility. These policies will likely expand in scope. In the United States, for instance, Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act sets standards for web pages designed or maintained by federal agencies. State and local governments as well as educational and nonprofit institutions around the United States are considering their own accessibility policies. The State of Iowa has adopted a Website Accessibility Standard that requires all new content posted to state agency websites after May 4, 2013 conform to all WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA Checkpoints.

      • Accessibility offers benefits for all users

      As with many improvements intended for individuals with disabilities, the enhancements of accessible design offer benefits for all users of the web. Anyone who has pushed a stroller or rode a skateboard down a sidewalk has benefited from ramps cut into curbs. Similarly, accessible web pages are often easier to read, easier to navigate, and faster to download.

      • Accessibility uses innovative technology

      Accessible design is based on the premise that web pages must work with a broader range of browsers than only Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer. A page must be accessible whether using a screen reader, a refreshable braille display, or a head pointer. Making pages work in nonstandard browsers often makes them available to other consumer Internet devices, such as mobile phones or handheld personal digital assistants (PDA). The techniques of accessibility are based on recent technologies and design strategies. Older, static HTML designs often intermix content with formatting on web pages. Accessibility guidelines encourage the separation of formatting from content through the use of cascading style sheets (CSS) to allow more flexible use of content and easier implementation of more powerful dynamic models.

      • Accessibility ensures reaching the widest possible audience

      Accessibility offers the potential for organizations and businesses to reach new customers. As additional accessibility policies are adopted, the need among government and educational institutions for goods and services that support accessibility policy is growing. In the United States, businesses providing goods and services to the government via the web or other information technology should understand  Section 508. Businesses that understand accessibility and comply with Section 508 have a strong market advantage, which is multiplied as local governments implement new policies.

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      How can I learn more?

      The following list of links will provide helpful information regarding accessibility.  Check back to this page frequently as new resources are added on an on-going basis.

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