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Thursday November 27, 2003
11:54 PM

Is the government breaking the law?

[ #16050 ]

This week, I have run across several U.S. government websites that claim they are optimized for Internet Explorer and that I "may lose some functionality" with other browsers.

Besides a possible violation of the ADA, what other equal access policies does this violate?

Ziggy? Lisa?

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  • In fact, from my limited experience, Windows and IE have the best "Accessibility Options" I've seen.

    There might be some contracting law that requires that government IT systems adhere to "standards" whereever possible so as to level the playing field for competition, I dunno.

    • I am not talking about leveling the playing field, just recognizing that not everyone wants to use Microsoft. I have to use Internet Explorer to do various things on certain government websites. I am not worried about anti-competitive stuff, but rather that the government is not supposed to target such information towards a particular software program.

      The ADA angle comes in because Ineternet Explorer only runs on certain platforms. You should not be forced to buy those platforms because you have a disab

        • I am not talking about leveling the playing field, just recognizing that not everyone wants to use Microsoft.

        When you said:

        Besides a possible violation of the ADA, what other equal access policies does this violate?

        I thought that an "equal access policy" might include a fairness in contracting rule. It does seem that Gov. sites favor PDF over .DOC or other MS Office formats for downloadable documents that are intended for the public. Perhaps there is a rule somewhere that encourages this, but I don't

  • We (government agencies) are not bound by the ADA, but rather the Rehabilitation Act and Section 508 [section508.gov] of the Workforce Reinvestment Act. What that means, is that my sites have to be accessible to persons with disabilities and I can follow the letter of the law by adhering to the standards of 508. Of course, I can still follow those standards and develop a completely inaccessible site. Depends whose disabilities we're talking about (but that's another rant). The law primarily addresses visual disabilities.
  • This week, I have run across several U.S. government websites that claim they are optimized for Internet Explorer and that I "may lose some functionality" with other browsers.

    Don't forget that the US Government is an interminably large place. Although there are regulations on the subject (c.f. Section 508), there are no standards in place on what to do (and what not to do) when performing some task, like, say, building a website. Doubly so when you look at the government as a set of independant depar

    • It's a Cath-22. While Section 508 is enforced through the Federal Acquisitions Regulations, the law still requires that electronic information be accessible. Most agencies I've dealt with on this disregard the FAR when it comes to web sites, and adhere to 508 wether the site is procured or not.
  • It's not hard to produce a visually attractive web site, that is W3C compliant, works on most modern browsers*, and is accessible to a wide range of users. You can even produce a nice site that degrades gracefully on the older less standard compliant browsers too.

    All too often people/companies/governments don't. There are many reasons for this: ignorance; obsession with visual impact; lazyness; legacy site/code; lack of usability testing. It can be expensive to convert large complex sites that have evolve

    --
    -- "It's not magic, it's work..."
    • I agree :)

      A lot of the stuff I have to access has no visual impact---it is HTML 0.9, but they want to use goofy IE javascript to put it in popups or whatever. Those are useless technology add-ons that just make life harder for the weirdos like me.