June 22, 2010

Express Train to the White Spaces

This summer will mark the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. There is a great site of ADA and other disability-related resources at www.DisabilityInfo.gov and their blog has been doing a countdown since the spring, with regular updates on Twitter.

If you are looking for ways to add value to your organization, consider educating yourself on the ADA and specific aspects of compliance that you could provide some guidance on. You might want to read up on issues surrounding employing people with disabilities or perhaps your interest is in compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, the requirement that federal agencies make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. There are a ton of great resources on web accessibility these days. My favorite is Dive Into Accessibility.

One of the best things I have ever done for the white spaces where I work was to create an accessibility statement for our website. I did not write it from scratch; I cobbled it together after thoughtful consideration of existing statements from federal and other websites, in order to create a draft that was appropriate for our circumstances. See the sidebar for a bunch of examples of accessibility statements, as well as other web accessibility resources.

Yesterday I got to sit in on a staff training about ADA Complementary Paratransit, which is one of the main ways the ADA affects our work. I listened for the terminology one might use in a search, the main documents, legal precedents and federal regulations to follow on this topic, as well as frequently asked questions so that I can help codify what we learned into usable knowledge on our website (or link to existing resources on the web). When we finished I tagged a bunch of stuff to go back through and pare down for some new FAQ resources. Watching your colleagues engage in Q&A on a topic that is central to their work is a great way to learn and anticipate information needs.
(I love this graphic; isn't she sexy?)

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