Questions and Answers
What is "508" and "Accessibility" ?
These terms - Section 508, accessibility, compliance with 508 or ADA standards, W3C's guidelines - are in reference to a set of web guidelines, proposed as standards in many organizations, that allow access of a web site to a variety of users and devices. Special devices, such as PDAs, cell phones, a kiosk terminal, or text readers (for visually impaired) can be used to view websites. However, adherance to the guidelined will determine a site's ability to be usable or impossible to use. Other considerations are for the mobility-challenged (imagine navigating through a website menu without a mouse or with only a stick to type on the keyboard) and hearing-impaired.
Often adhering to the guidelines only requires a small amount of effort on the part of the web developer while creating a page (adding some additional explanation of what's going on, selecting colors that contrast well, etc).
How do I know if my website is OK?
Currently the 508 group at MUSC is helping determine which sites are compliant with the guidelines and which sites will need help getting there. Other ways to check your own site are to go through the website manually, with some of the considerations in mind: use a site-reader demo to read your site to you and determine if the content is clear. Try to navigate through your site without a mouse. Have someone who is color-blind look at your site and tell you is they can see the difference in the regular text and a link. You can also use the help of some online "Accessibility checkers" to run through your site and produce a list of which areas need attention.
508 Validator (WAVE)
W3C's online Validator
Does my site have to comply with these guidelines?
If you maintain a website at MUSC, then it falls under the requirement to be compliant with these guidelines. South Carolina has given a state mandate for any state institution to comply with 508 and encourages to comply with W3C's priority 1 and 2 levels. Also, any federally funded entity falls within the requirement. This includes all resources at the University, or any site on a server that is being funded by state or federal funding.
How much time do I have to make my sites compliant?
More information will be distributed on the timeline of site requirements as the 508 group determines the plan for MUSC as a whole. A plan will be finalized by the end of October and submitted to the State CIO Office. The State CIO's office has set a separate deadline for external and internal websites. The 508 group at MUSC will also determine which sites fall into each category and establish a priority for the MUSC sites.