I agreeto Idea screen reader users cannot cast votes in this dialogue!
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I disagree

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Idea#86

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screen reader users cannot cast votes in this dialogue!

How on Earth can we be having an online dialogue about improving implementation of Section 508 using a platform that, itself, is not compliant with Section 508? Those of us who use screen readers cannot even vote on the ideas! Giving us an inaccessible platform on which to cast our votes for aspects of an issue that is so vitally important to our ability to access information and participate in the federal workforce is extremely insulting and demoralizing, and seems to show a callous disregard for those who are most affected by these issues, or a blatant and inexcusable lack of knowledge about what is and isn't Section 508 compliant.

A person using a screen reader cannot vote using keystrokes. A more advanced user, trying some features of the screen reader that try to make up for the fact that many applications are not developed using accessibility standards, can think that she has managed to vote. She will hear the "I agree" link change to "you agree", hear the number of votes increase, and get a "retract" link for her supposed vote. But she will later return to the site to find that her votes appear to have been cast for comments for which she didn't vote, and even for those, she will not see her name listed in the voter activity.

I call on the sponsors of this campaign to please remedy this situation ASAP! Offering us an e-mail address isn't sufficient. It isn't sufficient for any federal agency trying to remedy a Section 508 violation, and it certainly isn't sufficient or appropriate for the sponsors of a campaign for improving implementation of Section 508!

There is another comment related to this issue: "IdeaScale screen Reader Accessibility". I tried to vote for it, but since I can't, I'm forced to resort to posting my own comment.

Submitted by gosarah 2 years ago

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Comments (26)

  1. sam.joehl Merged

    Currently screen reader users cannot vote for or against an idea using a keyboard. The targets of the links to vote ideas up and down are JavaScript functions which do not make them keyboard-accessible. A screen reader user would be left submitting a separate idea which devalues the ranking process, using the provided E-mail reasonable accommodation to request that somebody do the voting for the user, obtaining local assistance or using mouse simulation commands built into their screen access software to fire a click event on the link providing their software possesed this ability. How did a noncompliant crowdsourcing platform get selected to host a national dialogue on improving Section 508 implementation throughout the federal government? Was this the most compliant product on the market that met the business needs of the agency? Was insufficient market research performed to select a crowdsourcing platform? Did the procuring agency not know that the product was noncompliant before they procured it? Was the area of developing a 508-compliant crowdsourcing website with a CMS explored? Were there insufficient dollars to develop an in-house solution? These are the kind of breakdowns that need to be solved if Section 508 is going to actually translate into creating accessible ICT environments for federal employees and the public.

    2 years ago
    13 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
    1. Thanks, Sam -- glad you raised this here. I know others will chime in.

      From a JAWS user who finally figured out how to vote for an idea: "I got to the 'I agree' link, routed the JAWS cursor to the PC cursor, and hit the simulated left mouse button (/ on the numpad with numlock off), and my vote took. The link changed to 'You agree', the number of votes increased, and I got a link to retract my vote. So it's doable, just not in the most accessible way."

      2 years ago
      0 Agreed
      0 Disagreed
    2. gosarah Idea Submitter

      Well, I voted for this, but I'm still not sure if my vote will permanently take. When I came onto the site this morning after voting yesterday, it seemed that some of my votes had changed. This is absolutely outrageous. Even my method above isn't a guarantee.

      2 years ago
      1 Agreed
      0 Disagreed
      1. You have not voted...

        2 years ago
        0 Agreed
        0 Disagreed
    3. gosarah Idea Submitter

      It would seem not. Even though I can look at the list of ideas and see "you agree" with this one, the number is off per the number of votes, and I don't see my name listed in the vote activity.

      So the method I thought i found is really sneaky; it really makes it look as if you've voted, initially increasing the number, changing "I agree" to "you agree", and giving me a "retract" link.

      2 years ago
      0 Agreed
      0 Disagreed
    4. IdeaScale has an alernate conforming website....for an extra charge for Section 508 accessiblilty which is clearly a violation of the ADA by (surcharge provisions). One should not have to pay for the "enable government version which is 508 compliant) at $2,999 when the free or $39 per month platforms would suffice.

      2 years ago
      3 Agreed
      0 Disagreed
    5. How ironic. An alternative site for a site about accessibility. How much pressure was put on IdeaScale to fix this? If we all shrug and then use inaccessible products anyway...nothing will ever change. This goes along with the idea that Jim Tobias raised about consequences and accountability.

      2 years ago
      4 Agreed
      0 Disagreed
    6. Accessibility and usability. At my agency, the problem is trying to make something 100% user friendly for everyone. That's why we need standards regarding accessibility and most importantly usability across government.

      2 years ago
      1 Agreed
      0 Disagreed
    7. Moderator

      This is the government accessible version. The application passed accessibility testing. During further testing with people with disabilities, a number of usability issues were identified and we worked with the vendor to resolve. I've forwarded the issues identified by our community to the vendor.

      2 years ago
      0 Agreed
      0 Disagreed
      1. Then we'd need to ask - what exactly was your "accessibility testing?" did it consist of a variety of persons with a variety of disabilities using a variety of assistive technologies, or one person who uses one specific assistive technology, or was it simply a VPAT that looked good enough? It's gotten ridiculously tiresome hearing - even and from people who should know better - "well, it worked for our blind employee and he uses JAWS, so it's conformant and accessible." That's not conformant, compliant, or accessible.

        2 years ago
        3 Agreed
        0 Disagreed
    8. I can guarantee you that it would not have passed accessibility testing if that testing conformed to the SSB BART Group formal audit methodology which is described at https://www.ssbbartgroup.com/reference/index.php/Formal_and_High_Level_Audit_Comparison

      2 years ago
      0 Agreed
      0 Disagreed
  2. I think IdeaScale is a good product except I wholeheartedly disagree with their current policy to charge $2,999 for a "enable government version" or an alternately conforming website in order for an entity to obtain an accessible 508 version. This constitutes a "surcharge" under the ADA. The ADA states, "A Title II or Title III entity may not impose a surcharge on a particular individual with a disability or any group of individuals with disabilities to cover the costs of measures, such as the provision of auxiliary aids, barrier removal, alternatives to barrier removal, and reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures, that are required to provide that individual or group with the nondiscriminatory treatment." On their site, an entity has choices from free, $15 per month,$99 per month or $208 per month, but to get the accessible version, it if $2,999 per year ($249 per month). I've talked with IdeaScale about this and have made my point with them, but I think it is so ironic, that IdeaScale is being used to ask about Section 508 compliance when, in my opinion, it is breaking the law by in essence applying a "surcharge" for accessibility.

    2 years ago
    1 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
    1. I see their 508 page: http://support.ideascale.com/kb/government/section-508-compliance. But I don't see any connection to price. Can you please post a link?

      2 years ago
      0 Agreed
      0 Disagreed
      1. Jim, the price isn't on the website. I had to call to find out the cost.

        2 years ago
        0 Agreed
        0 Disagreed
    2. Moderator

      This is the government accessible version. The application passed accessibility testing. During further testing with people with disabilities, a number of usability issues were identified and we worked with the vendor to resolve. I've forwarded the issues identified by our community to the vendor.

      2 years ago
      0 Agreed
      0 Disagreed
    3. I know it is the government accessible version. My point is that you have to pay a surcharge to get it. If I only want to use the $15 a month version to survey my disabilitiy groups, I couldn't do it. I'd have to purchase the "government accessible version." That amounts to an alternate conforming site and a "surcharge" under the ADA. I should be able to purchase whatever I need and it be accessible.

      2 years ago
      1 Agreed
      0 Disagreed
    4. The annual version at $999 allows the ability to enable the "508 compliance" features, whatever those features may and may not include.

      2 years ago
      0 Agreed
      0 Disagreed
  3. Moderator

    We are working with the vendor to remedy the voting issue.

    2 years ago
    0 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  4. Moderator

    I just agreed at 5:35 P.M. EST. I'll check tomorrow on the vote status.

    2 years ago
    0 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  5. bradsaul Merged

    First, it is unbelievable to me that this site isn't accessible for peope with disabilites. Just typing in the two words to open an account required assistance. If its comments about online accesibility that are being requested why not ask me to get out of my wheelchair and walk? Moreover, Section 508 only applies for people who have screen readers in their computers. That's like saying, "bring your own ramp and you can get into my restaurant." not all of the 9.5 million people who are blind or visually impaired have screen readers in their computers. Moreover, there are 19M people who are mobility impaired, can't use a keyboard or otherwise, require assistance that would necessitate voice to text interaction. All 28.5M people with disabilities should have equal access to the Internet. It is because of mis cues like those on this site, that not only is the playing field not even, well intended efforts often go awry. Am I know the only one who is disabled that notices these things? I suppose there may be others, but good luck to them, if there are trying to enter a comment.

    2 years ago
    2 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  6. I agree there are challenges. I'm blind and use a screen reader. This version is much better than the one used for the web strategy. Not saying it is great. I am glad I get to have a say in what the government does, especially on a subject that directly impacts me. The alternative is no say at all.

    2 years ago
    1 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  7. gosarah Idea Submitter

    I agree that this version of Ideascale seems better than the one available when I tried to vote on aspects of the government plan for mobile accessibility or something like that. But a dialogue for improving implementation of Section 508 is not the place to just be grateful for what they give us. This is the time and place to speak out. At least here, someone might be listening.

    2 years ago
    2 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  8. Go Sarah indeed! This whole situation brings up another potential path to progress. For each product category (this one might be "online dialogue and voting/rating system) there are going tob e unique accessibility requirements, just because the features are more detailed than any generic set of guidelines could be. So it'd behoove buyer and seller alike if those were spelled out. In this case, the specific requirements would include the ability to vote, retract, and confirm both of those. For a webinar platform, we'd want to add specific requirements about reading the main content pane and the chat pane, and integrating real-time captioning. The more specific we can be, the more compliant the products will likely be. So my recommendation would be to develop a comprehensive list of product categories, and develop targeted guidance for them, on a prioritized basis. GSA's Quick Links does some of this now, so maybe they can take the lead.

    2 years ago
    3 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  9. Moderator

    Good recommendation, Jim. Should GSA take the lead on developing product categories, with detailed specific 508 related requirements before the procurement stage? Should there be changes to the FAR?

    https://www.acquisition.gov/far/html/Subpart%2039_2.html

    2 years ago
    3 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
    1. As Jim has mentioned in his post, GSA has taken the lead in defining applicable provisions for specific products - they are found on buyaccessible.gov under Quick Links. GSA's Section 508 program has focused its outreach efforts in promoting this detailed requirements language (which includes evaluation and acceptance criteria). Unfortunately, it isn't well known. If the FAR can't point to this government resource, that would definitely help.

      2 years ago
      0 Agreed
      0 Disagreed
  10. I think any entity could take the lead on this. What I'm talking about is more like interpretive guidance rather than new regulations or extensions to existing regulations. I mentioned GSA because of Quick Links. This idea goes a step beyond Quick Links, but it'd fit perfectly in them: after saying which provisions apply to a given product category, we'd add guidance about each provision. For example, for 1194.21d on an online rating/voting system, we'd specify that among the user interface elements that must be available to AT are the text of the item, its current tally, whether the user has voted, the controls for voting and retracting, etc.

    Yes, it's a bit of a pain to have to do this, but it's a useful exercise because it links functionality -- why is the federal government using this product? -- to the accessibility features that users require.

    2 years ago
    2 Agreed
    0 Disagreed