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Doug Wakefield
Doug Wakefield
Beyond the Law, Why Make Information Technology Accessible?
Wednesday October 16, 2002
Building 3 Auditorium - 3:30 PM

(Refreshments at 3:00 PM)

Dr. Doug Wakefield , will talk about Beyond the Law, Why Make Information Technology Accessible? Mr. Wakefield’s talk focuses on Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508, agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others. The standards cover the full range of electronic and information technologies in the Federal sector, including computers, software, networks, peripherals, duplication devices, and other types of electronic office equipment. The standards define electronic and information technology, in part, as “any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment, that is used in the creation, conversion, or duplication of data or information.”

The standards provide criteria specific to various types of technologies, including:

- software applications and operating systems
- web-based information or applications
- telecommunication products
- video and multimedia products
- self contained, closed products (e.g., information kiosks and fax machines)
- desktop and portable computers

Doug Wakefield is employed by the United States Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) and has been a leader in developing important accessibility guidelines. He has been instrumental in the implementation of the Telecommunications Act (Section 255) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The Telecommunications Act requires access to new telecommunications and customer premises equipment where “readily achievable”. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act ensures access to electronic and information technology in the Federal sector. The final guidelines for Section 508 took effect in June 2001.

The Access Board is an independent Federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities. It operates with about 30 staff members and a governing board of representatives from Federal departments and public members appointed by the President. Key responsiblities of the board include developing and maintaining accessibility requirementss for telecommunications equipment, and for electronic and information technology; providing technical assistance and training on these guidelines and standards; and enforcing accessibility standards for federally funded facilities.

IS&T Colloquium Committee Host: Janet Ormes