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The Collaborative Road to Maine State Web Accessibility. Kelly Hokkanen, Kathy Record, Ellen Wood State Web Accessibility Sub-Committee Maine.gov - the official Web portal of the state of Maine. Objectives. Describe Maine’s collaborative path to increasing access to government web sites

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The collaborative road to maine state web accessibility l.jpg

The Collaborative Road to Maine State Web Accessibility

Kelly Hokkanen, Kathy Record, Ellen Wood

State Web Accessibility Sub-Committee

Maine.gov - the official Web portal of the state of Maine


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Objectives

  • Describe Maine’s collaborative path to increasing access to government web sites

  • Discuss Maine’s web standards

  • Describe Maine templates developed for Dreamweaver to support a consistent, accessible, and usable government web site.


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Background

  • 1997 “Maine’s Opportunity: Maximizing Economic Potential conference”

    • Ensuring Information Technology provides access for ALL Maine citizens

    • White Paper with Guiding principles & recommendations

  • 1999 Legislation passed to create InforME, Maine’s e-government partner and portal


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Maine’s IT Accessibility Committee

  • Government Information Services Policy Board recognizes State commitment to people with disabilities

  • Establish accessibility committee - 1998, Charter in 1999

  • More than web…”to integrate accessibility into our everyday business processes and practices”

  • Maine Government Accessibility Committee


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Accessibility Committee Charter

  • Propose and maintain standards for information technology accessibility

  • Expand and maintain an evaluation methodology for current and future information technology endeavors

  • Prepare periodic updates on technology, ADA compliance, and other legal requirements

  • Complete an annual report on previous year's accomplishments and proposed future work plan

  • Work in partnership with the Accessible Information Technology Coordinator on identifying issues and providing technicalassistance and solutions

  • Annual Reports –these reports go to Governor’s, Cabinet, Commissioner, Maine State Library government publications


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The Web Problem

  • What we knew: The Web is a critical means by which the State communicates with the public

  • Where we were:

    • Everyone did their “own thing”

    • Many sites unusable & inaccessible

    • No compliance to standards, lack of consistency, browser compatibility issues, not forward compatible, costly to maintain, lack of accountability


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Roadblocks to Accessibility

  • No coordinated state plan or management for web presence

  • Costs

  • Lack of accessibility training and information

  • Resistance to change; ownership issues

  • No accountability

  • No enforcement of accessibility policy

  • No web standards


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Solutions – Policy & Leadership

  • Accessibility Committee wrote Maine State government web accessibility policy

    • adopted by the Information Services Policy Board July 2001

  • CIO became champion for accessibility initiative: Top IT official is accountable

  • CIO hired half-time IT accessibility coordinator

  • CIO provided a budget

  • Web accessibility sub-committee formed & developed an action plan


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Steps for Change

  • 2002

    • Launched new state accessibility website - "one stop shopping" for those looking for IT accessibility information.

  • 2003

    • Summer intern researched issues to bring Maine State websites into compliance with State policy– Web accessibility recommendations

    • Updated web accessibility policy & more usable format for implementation guidelines


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2004 Steps for Change

  • Accessibility Committee & IT Accessibility Coordinator, Kathy Record, worked on accountability & standards

  • Web Design Consistency Initiative – collaboration & support by Accessibility Committee, Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Department of Administrative and Financial Services, & InforME

    • InforME: Maine’s e-Government Partner and the winner of the Center for Digital Government’s 2004 Best of the Web competition.

  • Web Sub-Committee established

    • Focused on prioritizing and implementing Web Accessibility Plan recommendations

    • 5 Action Areas for 2004-05 goals


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Committee Action 1: Training

  • Make basic web design training available for every state employee who works on web pages affiliated with Maine State Government.

    • InforME provides monthly webmaster training

    • Committee offers quarterly free half-day accessibility workshops open to state webmasters and their managers.

  • Review the current training course curriculum and the process for selecting training instructors

  • Issues- costs, time away from job, levels of skills, what to teach, who trains


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Committee Action 2: Web Resources

  • Transition webmasters to one software

    • Support & training only for Dreamweaver

  • Each agency should have access to web testing and accessibility tools on at least one computer.

    • Committee purchased HiSoftware: 50 licenses of AccVerify/AccRepair, Hi-Caption, Link Checker

    • Enterprise evaluation with AccMonitor

    • All provided to agencies at NO cost

  • Develop Webmaster Resource Center Website and online forum

    • Set up by InforME, Fall 2004


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Committee Action 3: Evaluation & Governance

  • Purchased enterprise accessibility evaluation software

    • Chose HiSoftware’s AccMonitor

  • Evaluate all state sites at least twice a year for accessibility

    • Hisoftware’s AccMonitor initial run Spring 2005 with ongoing quarterly reports

  • Agencies must develop internal web management plan

    • identify roles and responsibilities, site monitoring and evaluation, content maintenance, oversight, user feedback and other aspects of site management.

    • Web sites need project management and planning


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Committee Action 4: Personnel

  • Require all agencies to appoint a primary web coordinator

    • Responsible for ensuring compliance to all state standards

  • Create Webmaster Directory for communications and security purposes

    • Mandate that all state employees who have access to and work on state web pages register with the Office of the CIO, using the directory

  • Issues

    • Use of employees who have both time and training to design professional pages,

    • Fewer working on pages, less problems

    • HR and job classification

    • Pages meeting standards

    • Accountability & communication of policies

    • Support of senior management important


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Web Standards

Purpose:

  • Web is one of the most important means by which the State communicates with the public

  • An agency's website may be the only interface that a citizen or business has with a particular agency

  • Maine state government's presence on the Internet must be professional, comprehensive and coordinated.

  • All state websites must be accessible to the broadest possible audience and easy to understand and use.


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Web Standards – Business Value

  • Reinforce Maine.gov identity and make it clear to users they are on a Maine state site

  • Provide consistency and continuity in website appearance

  • Improve the quality, usability and accessibility of State websites for the public

  • Ensure that critical state links appear on all agency sites

  • Integrate agency sites and the portal, to support the "one government" approach

  • Increase efficiency of website development and management by agencies


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Web Standards Developed

  • Web standards revised and passed by Information Service Policy Board, Spring 2005

  • Governor’s Order, Jan. 2005 charging CIO and InforME to develop accessible web templates that all departments will utilize to ensure unified e-government web services


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Scope of Standards

  • These standards apply to all agencies within the Executive Branch of Maine State Government. In addition, all sites must comply with the Web Accessibility Policy of the State of Maine

  • Web design and content requirements

    • Maine.gov header

    • Design templates – Developed at no cost to government by InforME

    • Style Guide

  • Agency Site Management Plan

  • Webmaster Directory

  • Website Coordinators

  • Approved Web Software: Macromedia Dreamweaver


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Summary of Standards Benefits

  • Improved usability for the public

  • Professional presentation

  • Improved accessibility for all users

  • Consistent branding of state sites

  • Browser compatibility, standard code, fast download

  • Easier development and maintenance by agencies

  • Reduced costs


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Next Steps

  • Support webmasters in transitioning to templates with resources and training

  • Continue monthly InforME webmaster meetings with targeted training

  • Hold monthly web coordinators meetings

  • Monitor level of accessibility through quarterly AccMonitor testing

  • Full Accessibility Committee broader initiatives – More PR, studying legal aspects, network with others

  • E-government Manager position from Office of Information Technology

  • Continue summer intern program


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Maine State Library HomeUse of Template


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Agency Leadership makes a Difference

  • With the strong support of the State Librarian and the Deputy Librarian, Maine State Library is reporting close to a 100% web accessibility compliance for Maine’s Web Accessibility Policy

  • Other key factors for Maine State Library:

    • Use of the templates, InforME’s training, HiSoftware’s tools, Dreamweaver /Contribute accessibility settings, and the continual support of InforME and the CIO’s Accessibility Coordinator


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Template - Bureau of Parks & Lands (green style)


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Another Template Example – Maine’s Fall Foliage

  • Some flexibility in color scheme, header, use/non-use of right navigation


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Template Accessibility Features – Skip Nav

  • “Skip navigation” links (required by federal Section 508)

    • These “invisible” links allow a blind user with screen reader software to skip over repetitive header and navigation links and move directly to the page’s main content.

    • Two levels of “skip” links are included: Skip header links, & skip to content.


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Template Accessibility Features –Text Nav

Text navigation

  • Very few graphics are used in the templates.

  • All navigation is text.

  • This is more accessible than graphical text, since it can be enlarged as needed.

  • It also downloads more quickly.

  • Uses CSS


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Template Accessibility Features – Alternative navigation systems

  • Search and site map available from every page. Specific to each site.

  • A textual site map provides information about how the site is organized.

  • Breadcrumb trail navigation provides information about site organization and another way to navigate.


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Template Accessibility Features - Fonts

Sizing & Styling

  • The State accessibility policy requires that sites use relative font sizing.

  • Effective font sizing within the style sheets that meets all accessibility requirements and is cross-browser compatible.

  • All font styling and sizing comes from the style sheets automatically.


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Template Accessibility Features - CSS

CSS - Cascading Style Sheets

  • Separation of presentation from content

  • Allows users to control the site display to their own preferred settings

  • Provides a cleaner page that is more accessible to screen reader software, text browsers, and alternative devices.

  • Improves download speed of web pages.


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Template Accessibility Features - Other

  • Consistency of layout, navigation and appearance.

  • Home link and “Contact Us” link available from every page

  • Navigation systems include clear “you are here” indicators as the user moves deeper into the site.


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Presenters’ Contact Information

  • Ellen Wood, Web Coordinator for Maine State Library, Chair of the State Web Accessibility Sub-Committee, ellen.wood@maine.gov, www.maine.gov/msl/

  • Kelly Hokkanen, Director of Creative Services, InforME: Information Resource of Maine, and member of Web Accessibility Sub-Committee, kelly@informe.org, www.maine.gov

  • Kathy Record, IT Management Analyst/Accessibility Coordinator, Office of the CIO, kathy.record@maine.gov, www.maine.gov/cio/


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Resources mentioned (in order of appearance)

  • Maine.gov - the official Web portal of the state of Maine http://www.maine.gov/

  • White Paper with Guiding principles & recommendations -http://www.mainecite.org/docs/wpaper.htm

  • Maine State Accessibility Committee http://www.maine.gov/CIO/accessibility/committee.htm

  • Accessibility Annual Reports http://www.maine.gov/CIO/accessibility/annualreports.htm

  • Website Accessibility Policy of the State of Maine http://www.maine.gov/CIO/accessibility/policy/webpolicy.htm

  • Office of the CIO Accessibility web site http://www.maine.gov/CIO/accessibility/index.htm

  • Web accessibility recommendations http://www.maine.gov/msl/accessibility/recommend03.htm

  • Accessibility policy implementation guidelines http://www.maine.gov/CIO/accessibility/policy/guideline1.htm

  • InforME: Maine’s E-Government Partner http://www.maine.gov/informe/

  • HiSoftware http://www.hisoftware.com/

  • Maine State Library http:www.maine.gov/msl/

  • Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks/

  • Maine’s Fall Foliage http://www.mainefoliage.com