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The following email was sent to the ct-access Listserv on May 6, 2008:
Dear Accessibility Committee Members and Listserv subscribers:
During the last six months, I have been part of the team that wrote and put out a bid for a new Web Content Management System to replace DSF (the software currently used to maintain the CT.Gov portal).
As you know, there were no qualified responders to the bid, so we are now preparing to send out an RFP.
The current State policy ( http://www.access.state.ct.us/policies/accesspolicy40.html ), which was adopted in July of 2001, consists of some of the guidelines from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 May 1999, and additional Design Requirements written by the Committee in 2000-2001. During the bid/RFP process, it became apparent to me and others on the WCMS Team that it would be difficult, if next to impossible, to find a WCMS that would be in compliance out-of-the-box with the State's Web Site Accessibility Policy. I have also found during my years here at the State that any time you customize a software package to meet unique State of Connecticut requirements; we end up with a package that is more difficult for the vendor to support and the State to maintain.
Just before Connecticut's policy was adopted, the Section 508 Technical Standards for Web-based intranet and internet information and systems http://www.section508.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Content&ID=11#web became effective at the Federal Level. All electronic & information technology (E&IT) companies that wish to sell their products to the Federal Government must provide a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT), which indicates their compliance with Section 508.
As the team was hoping to draw from large pool of potential responders to the RFP, it became clear that we needed to align our WCMS requirements with the Federal standards. Therefore, in the RFP requirements we stated that the winning proposal must comply with Section 508 and the vendor must also provide a VPAT.
As CT.Gov comprises the majority of State web sites, this raised the question of whether the State policy should be updated to require compliance with Section 508. For consistency's sake and also because we were up against a tight deadline for WCMS RFP, I drafted a revised policy (attached to this email ) which was reviewed by DOIT Directors and IT Managers.
The comments received were mostly about understanding the differences between the current policy and the proposed policy and whether or not training will be available. These issues will be addressed at the Portal User Group Meeting scheduled for May 14th, 2008. If you are interested in attending, please register at http://www.ct.gov/cpi/ical/eventDetail_page.asp?date_ID=CCCDCEC6CA83CDC9CF. If you are not able to attend, but would like to review the differences, please read "Side By Side - WCAG vs. 508" at http://jimthatcher.com/sidebyside.htm.
I hope that you all understand the reasons for this action and can support it as I do. They say the only thing constant is change - coming down the pike are a refresh of Section 508 http://www.access-board.gov/news/508update.htm and WCAG 2.0 http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/ so I expect we will take another look at this issue before long.
If you have any questions or concerns, you can post back to the list by hitting "Reply", or you can write to me directly at email@example.com
~ Kathleen Anderson, Chair
State of Connecticut Web Site Accessibility Committee
phone: (860) 622-2159