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Archive for the 'IT procurement' Category

Final Draft of Mandate 376 Set For Review

The latest and final draft of a new European Standard for the accessibility of ICT products and services procured by the public sector – known as “Mandate 376” – is to be placed online next week, E-Access Bulletin has learned.

Users, developers, manufacturers, public bodies and procurers will have until October to offer feedback on the standard and associated documents before formal work begins on legislation this autumn.

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Severely Disabled Pupils Face Wait For Home Access

School pupils with serious disabilities are facing an indefinite delay, likely to last six months or more, to receive the assistive technology they need to benefit from the government’s new ‘Home Access’ computer scheme, E-Access Bulletin has learned.

The £300 million scheme ( http://www.homeaccess.org.uk/ ), managed by education ICT agency Becta ( http://www.becta.org.uk/ ), is providing computers to children aged 7-14 from low-income families. Launched this month, it aims to help around 270,000 families by March 2011.
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Research – Accessibility: ‘Just The Right Thing To Do’

Article by Peter Abrahams.

In the past year or two it has been possible to detect heightened awareness of the need for accessibility of ICT products and services. This has partly been brought about by court cases such as that filed against Target.com in the US, where the National Federation of the Blind claimed that the company’s website was inaccessible and violated disability legislation ( http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=206 ).

Other factors increasing awareness of accessibility issues include new standards such as the updated Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0; increased pressure from governments to make e-government services accessible to all; and the ongoing ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (
http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml ).
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Outdated ‘Legacy’ Systems Hindering Accessibility

A lack of accessibility in old ICT systems and lack of budget are the two main barriers preventing organisations from making their internal and external ICT systems more accessible for people with disabilities, according to the results of the new survey.

These factors were each cited by 40% of respondents as ‘strong’ or ‘very strong’ barriers to implementation of accessibility in a survey carried out by Bloor Research in conjunction with E-Access Bulletin’s publisher Headstar and Ability Magazine. The finding suggests that providing tools for improving the accessibility of these ‘legacy’ systems could be an interesting business opportunity, say the survey’s creators. Less than a quarter of respondents quoted lack of understanding of accessibility issues as a barrier to progress.
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Public Procurement Enlisted To Improve Equality

Public sector procurement should be used to improve equality for people with disabilities, including the development of more accessible IT systems, according to a government bill passing through Parliament.

The Equality Bill
( http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2008-09/equality.html
), introduced to the Commons on 24 April and currently undergoing its committee stages, aims to reform and harmonise equality law. Notes accompanying the bill say: “With an annual expenditure of around £175 billion every year on goods and services, the public sector has an important opportunity to use its purchasing power to promote equality where possible.”
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Call for Tougher European Access Laws

A more solid European legal foundation is needed to enforce technology accessibility, a leading software expert from Yahoo! told E-Access 09.

Artur Ortega, ‘accessibility evangelist’ at Yahoo! Europe, said that ensuring more accessible products were developed would be a challenge, but that a legal basis for accessibility would actually impact positively on suppliers.
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Guidelines Create Landmark Month For Web Accessibility

The long-anticipated publication of new international web accessibility standard WCAG 2.0 has coincided with the release of a draft British Standard for managing web accessibility, in a landmark month for internet inclusion.

WCAG 2.0 (http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/) is the new version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), accepted as the main benchmark for ensuring web content is usable by people with disabilities

The new ‘recommendation’ – the consortium’s term for a full standard – was finally released on 11 December 2008, nine years and seven months after the adoption of its predecessor WCAG 1.0. The delay was caused by the W3C’s desire to consult as widely as possible on every stage of the complex guidelines’ development; and to ensure the standard is as generic and flexible as possible so it will remain relevant as web technologies develop.
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