I agreeto Idea Product testing for 508 compliance
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Product testing for 508 compliance

Currently each agency is making determinations as to whether a product is 508 compliant. A central location for sharing product testing for accessibility, by product name and version, would save each agency from having to replicate testing over and over again. We could start with major applications such as Windows and Lotus Notes. Most agencies are spending significant dollars to make some major procurements, such as Sharepoint accessible. There ought to be a way for the federal government to coordinate and centralize testing and sharing of results of accessibility for electronic and information technology. It would save the government money if this could be done before agencies can purchase it. Almost like a prequalification step.

Comment from Accessibility Committee virtual listening session, Sept 8, 2011

Submitted by Section508 2 years ago

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  1. The idea was posted
    2 years ago

Comments (6)

  1. I agree about the need for sharing testing, but I don't think it needs to be via a centralized facility. There are many non-federal resources out there that are already doing a good job of testing and sharing. Let's open up the process by creating a rich community of practice. This will give us more testing results in the near term, and develop the dialogue about testing protocols and methodologies. Sure, there will be concerns about accuracy and reliability, but the answer to that is more openness, rather than anointing one lab somewhere.

    2 years ago
    0 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  2. I also like your reference to prequalification. As you know, the government (federal and otherwise) has programs that prequalify all kids of products. Because these programs simplify and accelerate purchasing, both vendors and buyers want to use them. One easy rule to establish is that ICT products must be 508 compliant (however that's measured -- a whole other topic!) in order to participate in any expedited procurement program.

    2 years ago
    1 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  3. You make a good point in that implementation costs for poor performing products is significant, but if an agency is considering among products that are relatively equal in their accessibility isn’t the money that would be spent on centralized testing better applied to improving agency governance, policies, and internal development resources? Even if an agency is able to find a significantly better product, if the agency does not have the right policies in place and/or implementation resources are not applied (development, configuration, validation testing, etc.), the agency could easily be worse off than picking the product that “best meets”. Testing resources are better applied to improve development and agency implementations than to procurements.

    2 years ago
    0 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  4. Theoretically, agencies should not have to do any testing at all. How could a vendor complete a VPAT without having done all the necessary testing? ;-O

    But seriously, vendors should be required to share their testing results in full detail, including AT compatibility. I understand the need to protect proprietary information, but that shouldn't be an absolute.

    In the meantime, if customer agencies are going to be doing testing, they shouldn't all have to do it on every product, right? Another advantage of opening up the testing world is that agencies could find peers that were considering the same product, and they could share the testing costs.

    For example, look at ATHEN's testing of Google Apps. Greg Kraus (NCSU) and Scott Williams (UMich) have a webinar Tuesday, March 20 on EASI on their findings. Why not do a lot more of this, considering that so many products are fully "converged" across the domains in which their used, the functions they perform, etc. Is an iPhone a workplace accommodation, an educational device, or a telecom product?

    2 years ago
    0 Agreed
    2 Disagreed
  5. An agency cannot shrug off its responsibilities or culpability. If it makes an evaluation determination, it must be able to stand up to a bid protest and meet its own established interpretation/requirements for accessibility. The points are good ones, the question is how can that be accomplished legally and safely?

    2 years ago
    0 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  6. One employee with a disability that I support was having difficulty with a rather expensive piece of software that was said to be section 508 compliant. I called their tech support to tell them it wasn't compliant. Within thirty minutes I received a callback from one of the softwate engineers wanting to know what the problem was. --- The problem, the supported employee is a C-3 quadriplegic with no use of his hands--their software product required only one keyboard input for improved functionality -- being a C-3 quadriplegic, he was unable to provide this keyboard input independently. At that instant, we could actually envision the "Ah-Ha!" epiphany moment when he finally realized there are actually users without keyboards. When you have non-disabled individuals designing software, it should be thoroughly tested by the targeted audience prior to release and/or certification.

    2 years ago
    0 Agreed
    0 Disagreed