The difficult second album 23 Nov 2006
"Section 508, a provision of the federal Rehabilitation Act requiring the federal agencies make their information technology accessible to people with disabilities, is proving to be challenging for the standards body that is now revising the standards. The current iteration of the section is plagued with interoperability problems, language issues and an inability to adapt to emerging technologies, according to members of the Section 508 Advisory Committee."
Nevertheless, Committee members predict that a working draft of the new guidelines will be available around July of 2007.
Another interesting quote from the article:
"Mike Fratkin of the Social Security Administration said that there are issues missing from the section's Web standards that are covered by software standards, such as keyboard accessibility. Under Section 508, software applications must be accessible through keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys. Web 508 rules don't have this requirement even though today users often run applications via the Web.
"Fratkin said consolidating similar technologies will be a major task for the committee as they draft the new report."
Fratkin's comments seem to suggest that websites will be required to provide accesskeys if they are to adhere to the revised version of Section 508. If correct, this could actually make the web a far less accessible place.
Accesskeys are a great idea in principle, but in practice they don't work. Most accesskey combinations conflict with reserved keystroke combinations in one or more assistive technologies or browsers (even the numeric ones recommended by UK government).
Therefore Section 508 part deux shouldn't be enforcing accesskey implementation. At least, not unless they can get the W3C, assistive technology vendors and browser manufacturers to support these key combos without conflicts.
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