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Panel Discussion: Website Accessibility –

Date: August 22, 2001
Speaker: 
— 

As of June 21, 2001, Federal agencies must make websites accessible to people with vision impairments, hearing problems, limited dexterity and other disabilities. Section 508, an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, mandates that people with disabilities be given access to government information, including through websites, as easily as anyone else. The Act also pertains to organizations that receive funds from the federal government and companies that have government procurement and related contracts.

Topics include:

  • An overview of why accessibility is important

  • What the regulations and laws are

  • The “costs” of implementing or not implementing Website accessibility

  • Accessibility guidelines

  • How to do a basic accessibility audit

  • How does accessibility relate to usability in website design

  • How to incorporate the disabled into standard usability testing

  • Examples of accessible and inaccessible websites

  • Experience using Dragon Dictate with websites

  • Computer accessibility in general.

    The panelists are:

    Denise Spielman, Oregon Affiliate of the Northwest Regional Disability and Technical Assistance Center

    Terry Brainerd Chadwick, website optimization specialist

    Beverly Arnoldy, usability testing expert, and

    Lina Bensel, Independent Living Specialist.

    Denise M. Spielman is the Oregon affiliate of the Northwest Disability Business Technical Assistance Center (DBTAC) which is based in Olympia, Washington, and encompasses the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. As the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Program Coordinator, her office is housed at Independent Living Resources, a nonprofit social services agency providing services to people with disabilities to enable them to gain and maintain the skills necessary to live independently. A graduate of the University of Illinois with a background in teaching and training, Denise has nearly three years of experience providing technical assistance on the ADA. She facilitates training sessions on all aspects of the ADA. In addition, she performs site evaluations for facility accessibility, assists consumers who feel they are being discriminated against under the ADA, and conducts disability sensitivity awareness training.

    Terry Brainerd Chadwick is the President of InfoQuest! Information Services, a firm that provides website optimization, accessibility, content development, and strategic research services. She has been helping businesses market their products and services on the Internet since 1991, has been designing websites since 1994, and has been working on and speaking about website accessibility and optimization issues since 1995. Terry Chadwick is a past president of the Oregon Chapter of the Special Libraries Association, the founding vice-president of Internet Professionals Northwest, a former board member of the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP), and is a member of CHIFOO.

    Bev Arnoldy specializes in usability testing, heuristic evaluations, user surveys, and usability training for recent corporate clients such as Intel, Symantec, Medscape, and Informix. Her past corporate work experience includes contributions in software development, technical support, technical writing, and training for such firms as Honeywell, Intel, Schlumberger, and Mentor Graphics. She is an active member of CHIFOO (Computer Human Interaction Forum of Oregon) and SWE (Society of Women Engineers). Beverly holds bachelors and masters degrees in mathematics and computer science from the University of Minnesota.

    Lina Bensel works as an Independent Living Specialist/Peer Counselor at Independent Living Resources (ILR), a nonprofit social services agency whose goal is to help people with disabilities to live as independently as possible. Having had an initial relationship with ILR as a volunteer, Ms. Bensel has for the past three years maintained a caseload of consumers as well as conducted classes as requested by consumers (recent classes have centered around housing readiness and cooking for people with disabilities). In addition, she performs living skills assessments to help people move toward greater independence in their living arrangements. Ms. Bensel has served on Tri-Met’s Committee on Accessible Transportation as Chair of the LIFT Subcommittee as well as a general committee member and is recognized in the community as a valuable resource for information about the LIFT system.

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