A look at cloud computing and Section 508 compliance

Listen to the entire interview with Bruce Bailey.

Bruce Bailey is an Accessibility Specialist with the United States Access Board.

Today, he talks with FCB about Section 508 compliance — and how cloud computing might help agencies and businesses when it comes to meeting government standards for those with disabilities.

He says part of the problem is that the current provisions were written in 2001 — when the Internet was a different animal.

“The current provisions are very product-centric. Nowadays, so much technology just doesn’t fit into those nice, neat categories that are in the standards. Cloud computing kind of leads in that way in that — the Web provisions that we have are from 2001 and are really quite limiting in terms of trying to assess accessibility of a modern Web application.”

He says, however, that the Web is probably one of the more adaptable portions of IT when it comes to making information available to those with disabilities.

“Web sites are really one of the areas that’s pretty well-defined and there’s been a lot of work done. The W3C, the WAI — at this time last year — came out with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 — and ten years’ worth of work went into that document. So, in terms of knowing what’s accessible when it comes to the Web, we really actually have a pretty good handle on that.”

This means that there isn’t a lot of grey area when it comes to moving an application from a desktop to, say, the cloud.

Bailey says this is a positive change, but there’s also a lot of unknowns when it comes to agencies and businesses moving into the cloud.

“Right now, we’re transitioning from a platform that people know works, to something that people don’t have experience with. . . . So, it’s a reason to be anxious. I think there’s a lot of potential with cloud computing, but the potential is not realized yet.”

As far as moving into the cloud at the United States Access Board, Bailey told FCB that, because they’re a fairly small organization (29 people total), they’re looking at cloud products, but don’t have any plans to move themselves in the near future.

To learn more about Section 508, compliance and the U.S. Access Board, click on the audio link above.

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