Where are we on 508 compliance?

As a computer professional I take my sight for granted. Think about it, how much you rely on your eyes. How much of what we do is based on what is on the screen and where it is on the screen.

I am currently helping a branch of our Agency that is responsible for testing software and the ability to connect and use systems by those that are less than able. The group is working on the 508 compliance capabilities and I am constantly amazed at how much they can do and saddened by how much more they have to do. They have a sighted person with them today as we are working through the process of learning new software, despite the software “talking” to them.

If Linux is going to succeed, we need to make sure that 508 access compliance is not an afterthought, but is a core concept, like security, like building better software. Otherwise, a portion of our user base will be left out.

I am not familiar with software that is currently 508 compliant and would welcome your input. Perhaps we can get Linux Journal to add a section or part of one month’s edition to access issues. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.


David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack


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508 compliance

FlyFishPanFish's picture

When I was actively writing web pages I worked to keep them usable and 508 compliant = which required lots of gentle education of my bosses. I knew I was 'doing it right' when a staffer called to thank me for allowing her to magnify the page she was viewing without the page breaking. I knew I needed to rethink a few things when another staffer called to ask if I could slow down an auto-running, looping slide show because the blinking was triggering the start of epileptic seizure. Now, years later, I find I need to bump up the font sizes in the web pages and docs I am reading and am spending time using (or trying to use) the keyboard to move around in web pages and software GUIs. Getting larger monitors is not an option since most my work is from laptop or rack mounted screen.

Figuring out how to move about by key strokes is a challenge and either I have setting(s) wrong on my PCs(WinXP, RH and Ubuntu) or they are just less accessible to the mouseless. But my problems with "doing stuff by GUI" has caused me to learn to do some work by CLI - and that has done much to brush my "fear" of the command line away.

Hey folks - could you please make the posting to this blog a bit more difficult?! I understand the need (sometimes) for Captcha but its not easy for me to use it.

Accessability in General

Justin Brooks's picture

Being in the UK I have no knowladge of 508 but this organization focuses on all types of accessability that you may find interesting.


I recommend two articles from the March 08 Issue

Webmistress's picture

Orca—Take the Killer Whale for a Ride - The Orca screen reader helps people with visual impairments access the desktop. It also can serve as a useful tool for developers to check their applications for accessibility.

Make Your Application Accessible with Accerciser

Katherine Druckman is webmistress at LinuxJournal.com. You might find her on Twitter or at the Southwest Drupal Summit


David Lane's picture

Now I should go back and find the article :-)

David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack